Is It Worth Being A Good Person In 2019 America?

Illustration: Jim Cooke (G/O Media)

Today, we’re talking about doctors, the Mariners, capture the flag, being followed, and more.


Your letters:


It could be that this has always been the case, but it definitely seems like only horrible people excel in the world today. Does it pay to be a pleasant person?

It does. I know it doesn’t feel that way at the moment, but you can take cold comfort in the fact that history has often been kind to morally repugnant shitheads. It has, indeed, always been the case. I know Trump is in charge and that Trump is the world’s most hideous man, but people older than you and me have lived through the ascent and prosperity of plenty of other god-awful humans. That doesn’t mean you should use the Sackler family as a template for your own existence. The system really is set up so that you can profit by turning heel and fucking over other people, which is an unpleasant thing to learn about the world. BUT… sometimes okay people do well, too. Look at me! I’m a good person!

(unadulterated silence)

Okay, maybe I’m not the best example. What about, like, the Jonas Brothers? They seem nice and still do well for themselves. It CAN be done, I swear. In fact, compared to, like, the days of Genghis Khan, people are arguably nicer than they’ve ever been! Crime rates are down! We haven’t nuked each other to kingdom come just yet! Call it 20 percent nicer. I can be a better person. Not in the online sense, but on the ground. I could give more money and time to worthy causes. I could do more volunteer work. I haven’t done enough, and it’s not that I feel guilty about it. It’s that I know I’m missing out on something I’d truly enjoy doing by sitting on my ass. I’m depriving myself.

Don’t make the mistake of framing the whole “Should I be a prick?” question strictly in financial terms. It’s worth considering the (ugh) intangibles. When you’re pleasant in your everyday dealings, people are pleasant to you, and then they help you when you’re in a tight spot. Or, at least, they oughtta. That’s why they teach you common decency at elementary school in between savage games of Butts Up. They want you to abide by the golden rule for a reason. Say please. Say thank you. Don’t take out your fucking phone at the dinner table. Be professional. Give a fuck. You get more Christmas gifts when you do all that. TAKE THAT, JEFF BEZOS! Some of us do things the RIGHT way, you pile of shit. I’ll cut you good!


Which children’s playground game would make the best pro sport/league?

Capture The Flag. I say this knowing that if some fabled playground game COULD have been a billion-dollar professional sport, it already would be. But there’s a reason that the only time you see wiffle ball on TV is when it’s a celebrity game and, like, Joe Scarborough is the pitcher. No matter. I firmly believe that Capture The Flag is the be-all-end-all of kid games, particularly in the summertime. Not Hopscotch. Not Butts Up (though watching Justin Verlander compete in a game of Butts Up would be mesmerizing). Not trading Garbage Pail Kids. None of that. Capture The Flag is the GOAT.


When I went to sleepaway camp as a kid, they would stage a game of it on a massive field, with the entire camp split into two teams. We played the version of Capture The Flag where each side had a jail. So if you got tagged crossing over into enemy territory, you went to the jail and then your teammates could free you by running into the jail without getting tagged themselves. Freeing someone from a Capture the Flag gulag was nearly as thrilling as actually capturing the flag. Felt like breaking out of San Quentin.

Like the flag circle, jail was a safe space (don’t tell National Review), so if you got into it without being tagged, there was this really tense moment where you had to properly time when you and your freed hostage could dare to bust loose from the circle and make a break for the dividing line. WHAT A RUSH. IF you got tagged on the way back, you got baked into a pie.


A couple of times, I managed to make it all the way into the flag circle, mostly because the other team was busy chasing down and tagging faster kids. I don’t think I ever made it back home with that flag, not even once. If I had, that flag would be framed and hanging from a wall in our bedroom. So I would absolutely watch Alvin Kamara attempt to play this game along with 49 of his peers. This would be fascinating for a solid five minutes before I change the channel to bird-watching. Summer may be unofficially over, but Capture the Flag deserves to be enshrined by our government as the awesomest shit in history. Build a memorial to it on the Mall, to honor the tagged. Carve my name into the quartzite a thousand times over.

I would tell you that honorable mention here goes to Smear The Queer, but A) NFL football is better, and B) You really can’t/shouldn’t call that game that anymore. Someone on Reddit suggested re-branding Smear The Queer as Get Down, Mister President, but that’s almost too deferential to whoever has the ball. I’m not trying to save the ballcarrier from himself. I’m trying to beat his ass. Just call it Kill Bill, Part 3 or something.



When do kids learn to properly use a Kleenex? I have a sick six-year-old who has gone through a whole box and not a single one looks used.


My kids can all use Kleenex properly and the youngest one is seven. I think your six-year-old should get the hang of it sooner rather than later. Once a child understands that they can snot into a tissue with impunity, they come around quick. OH WOW I CAN PICK MY NOSE WITH THIS ANYTIME I WANT TO! Whole new avenue of opportunity opens up for them.

They will waste paper as they learn. Kids waste everything on this earth: tissues, food, water, your love, and such and such. But it’s worth harping on them when it comes to properly blowing their noses. I know this because my kids have wiped their boogers on the couch. One time I looked at the side of one of the cushions and it looked like an old man’s skin three days after he got too much sun. Horrifying shit. I would routinely catch one of the kids picking without a tissue and, in extremely overbearing fashion, I would hold up a tissue box in front of them to be a nag. Then they’d roll their eyes and insist “I wasn’t picking my nose!” Lies. All lies. I refused to give up. I didn’t wanna reach under a table again and discover an impromptu biotech lab. You don’t either. Kids grow. They eventually learn all the crap you and I now know. It’ll happen.



Common foods that make me gag are bananas, celery, seeded rye bread, and hard-boiled eggs, although I can’t figure out for the life of me what these have in common, and why I like other strong-flavored foods like anchovies and sauerkraut. Is there any connection to other foods you don’t like, or is it totally random?


I don’t think my least favorite foods have much in common. I don’t like mayo, olives, beets, and, like, brie cheese. That is not a food group. When the FDA issues a nutrition pyramid, you don’t see a wheel of baked brie topped with black olives at the top in the Weird Appetizers group. They have more pressing foodstuffs to categorize.

I hate these foods for varying reasons. I hate the texture and smell of mayo, along with its inexplicable, eternal omnipresence in fucking everything. I hate beets because beets taste like raw potatoes someone washed in corn syrup and then dumped into a vat of Easter egg dye. I hate olives because they’re distressingly meaty. I’ve told this story before, but one time I was at some cocktail party and ate what I thought was a fried mushroom. It was a fried olive. Terrible moment. I’ll never get over it. I wish this somehow related to my distaste for runny cheeses, but I’m at a loss. Each of my food hang-ups is unique and special, like a fingerprint.


I think that broader food quality dislikes are a childhood thing. I used to fear anchovies as a little kid. Like Jeff, I also once hated rye bread. I didn’t think bread should be tangy. I also disliked orange cheese(?), whipped cream, and pretty much any cooked fish. If I thought a food looked scary or had a strange texture, or if I thought certain foods HAD to taste a certain way and not deviate, I avoided them. I eventually grew out of those widespread aversions (except for mayo; mayo is still a fraternity prank). Your palate matures along with you, and what’s left are a handful of random foods you dislike for reasons you either cannot explain or that you just can’t overcome. You can never eat a basket of calamari again after Sheila dumped you that one time after you ordered one. Speaking of sudden nausea…


Have Mike Pence and Mother ever done mouth stuff?

Oh, sure. Everyone does mouth stuff, even people who need written consent from THE LORD before they get into it. Mike Pence probably begs Jesus for forgiveness every time he has to come up for air down there.


Also, since I’m a child of the 80s, I am predisposed to believe that the most demonstrably pious individuals are complete freaks behind closed doors. Mother probably slaps a gimp mask on her hubby every Saturday morning, holds him facedown in a wading pool filled with buttermilk, and then lashes him with a riding crop. I wasn’t born yesterday. I know how this type operates. Mouth stuff is the most NORMAL shit they’re into.

Evan (NOTE: this email sent in wintertime):

Today I saw two separate adult humans wearing winter gloves on the train and casually using their noses to navigate on their phones. I don’t have a question I just thought you needed to know this.


Why don’t they just buy the phone gloves? They have the special tactile winter gloves now with fingertip pads so that you can still use a touchscreen. People buy those things all the time. I would tell you that this is a depressing factoid about society as a whole, but I’m the type of person who A) Is too stupid to own a pair, B) Will shed a glove and risk frostbite at the bus stop in January just to refresh Twitter to see who fucked up, and C) Will probably do the nose thing now that I know about it. It’s resourceful. It’s how MacGyver would use an iPhone. I’m pathetic.


Do you think you’d notice some sketchy guys in a Crown Vic tailing you all the way home? I’d like to think I would, but then again I can’t really think of a situation where I’m looking out for someone following me home.


I’d notice. Absolutely. I spend every waking minute imagining that my life is a shitty action movie, so when another car stays behind me for a noticeable amount of time, I immediately think it’s the Feds, or a serial killer following me home to cut me up and plant me in some sort of body garden. Then the van in question turns onto Burnside Drive and my little flirtation with paranoia comes to a sudden and bittersweet end. I was looking forward to tussling with that murderer, man. I would have smacked him in the nose to get him off me, like he was a shark.

So if it happened for real, you better believe I would be on HIGH ALERT. I’m the guy who, after the 2016 election, turned on TweetDelete AND enabled a passcode on my phone because I was told the Feds can force you to unlock your phone with touch ID but can’t do the same with a passcode. Did that paranoia come back to bite me in the ass when I could least afford to have it happen? My friend, you know it did.




After honoring my seven-year-old’s request to spell “bell” out loud for him, for what felt like the 100th time, I started wondering how many different words I’ve actually spelled out loud one hundred times or more. Over-under is five—what say you?


I was gonna say zero EXCEPT I remembered as a kid that my brother, my sister, and I would spell out MISSISSIPPI as fast as we possibly could. We thought it was funny, mostly because there’s a “peepee” in there. Same goes for ICUP, which is not a real word but should be. It could even be the name of a show about drinking beer from a keg: I, Cup. But otherwise, 100 is an onerous number of times to spell out a single word. I say this even though, as I told Roth and Greenwell last week, my wife and I used to spell out certain words so that the kids wouldn’t know what we were talking about. That doesn’t work now that the kids can spell. They know we’re talking about potentially buying C-A-N-D-Y. The jig is up.

For most people, I would wager that swear words get spelled out the most. I used to do this with my kids around. “Honey, I gotta go take an S-H-I-T.” The kids could still Google my name and suddenly be inundated with a million SHITS and FUCKS and COCKBARFS. And yet, I still tried to maintain the façade that I was a discreet fellow. No point in keeping that up any longer. They know a shit is a shit. They aren’t stupid.



When Trump tweeted from Vietnam, it made me wonder if he knows how to connect to WiFi if he’s in a country that doesn’t have the best cellular service. Like, when he steps into a hotel, does he know how to connect his phone to the WiFi or does an aide immediately take his phone and connect for him?


Not a chance he knows how to do it. He may not even know what WiFi is. He walks into a new room, can’t get his browser to load, and then screams that someone should be fired because of it. Then a bunch of terrified lackeys scramble to fix the problem so that the President can get back online and tell the world that the media is lying and that Stephanie Zimbalist very much DID want to sleep with him back in 1986. As Trump does this, 12 hurricanes strike the mainland and 800 people are gunned down at random. That’s every morning now.


Lifelong Mariners fan here in Washington, and a friend in my group that’s a lifelong Yankees fan (also from Washington, go figure) has decided to rock the EXACT SAME M’S HAT that I have! This dude still talks shit about his beloved Yanks, but wears my Ms hat out and about. What’s the correct protocol here besides taking it off of him and throwing it into the bus-lane downtown?


You should give him shit. It won’t amount to anything. Yankees fans are too stupid and proud to EVER indulge in a moment of self-reflection. But that doesn’t mean you should accept your friend being a literal asshat. Do your bro duty and unload on his sorry ass. Call him a fuckhead. Slash his tires. Hide his asthma inhaler from him. Spend every waking second reminding him that he’s an ugly asshole. Shit on him until you get right up to that line where it stops being friendly banter and is poised to devolve into outright hostility. That’s what makes being a guy so FUN.

Why would a Yanks fan wear a Mariners hat anyway? The Yanks have a bazillion rings. The Mariners have never won fuck all. In fact, when the Mariners won 116 games one year and broke the MLB wins record (which they hold to this day), they still choked in the playoffs against … the YANKEES. Either your friend is grossly ignorant, as all Yankees fans are, or he’s trolling you on a level that MERITS outright hostility, if not open violence. I say assault him. He’s likely used to such things.



The other day, I looked in the mirror and realized that my hat, sweater and vest were all made by Patagonia. Even worse, the logos on all three items were visible, so I looked like the world’s least attractive and most unfit Patagonia model. What’s the most items you can wear from a single brand before you start to look like a weirdo? Two seems reasonable, although if the logos are hidden, then maybe it doesn’t matter?


If the logos aren’t visible, then you’re off the hook. If I walk out the door dressed head-to-toe in Uniqlo, and I have, I do NOT look like a hypebeast. I look like someone paid me to be a crowd extra in Mission: Impossible film. I am invisible.

It’s a different story if everyone can see the brand in question, and even then it depends on the brand. Like, if you walk around wearing all-adidas shit, it makes perfect sense. You’re wearing a t-shirt, mesh shorts, and a pair of slides. Those are articles of clothing that are meant to be part of a complete ensemble: a sloppy, boring ensemble. Whereas if it’s all Patagonia, you look like the founder of Honest Tea. Or if it’s all Polo shit, you look like a preppy asshole. Not only do you look the brand, but people will assume that you deliberately set out to do so.


That’s not a sin, necessarily. I know we at Deadspin treat saying brand names like we’re summoning fucking Voldemort, but brands are so ubiquitous now that plenty of people openly align themselves with ones that they think are interesting or cool. Kids especially. My kids were into Under Armour for a long time. I did not sit the kids down and say to them, “Well listen, boys and girls, you might think that UA is KEWL and HIP, but you know what’s not cool? CEO Kevin Plank sitting on the President’s WAY bogus business council and then resigning because he wanted to stick to sports. Tell me that’s IN with the school crowd!” I just let their little private fad run its course, and it usually does. The daughter likes Lululemon now, which is a whole OTHER problem.


Can Shaq use a urinal?

Yes. He’s not 30 feet tall. I saw Shaq in person this past June and his size is breathtaking to behold in person. But the man can use a pisser. I’m 6-foot-3 and even I encounter the occasional public urinal that’s awfully high, like I could rest my balls on the lip of it. Such urinals can easily accommodate a man of Shaq’s height and girth. Not the kiddie urinals, though. Some of those are stationed a foot underground. Exactly how small do they think children are?



I just saw Nas perform with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. At what point is it pathetic that I attend concerts of artists from my formative years? I say this because I mercilessly heckled my parents for going to a “Beach Boys” concert in 1999 that turned out to be one of the Beach Boys and Carnie Wilson.


Never. It’s never pathetic. Did you have a good time at the show? Then who gives a shit about how it looks? I long ago resigned myself to the fact that I like rock, and rock is now for old fogies. When I gotta think up a halftime song for this column, I inevitably end up picking some track that betrays my age, even if it’s from a relatively new band. But I like what I like and there’s little sense in fighting it. I still go to every Bob Mould show when he comes into town. If you gave me tickets to the Stones, I would absolutely go and enjoy myself. If the act in question still knows how to put on a live performance, no sense in depriving myself of the pleasure. Sometimes that live show can help me remember why I liked that band to begin with.

Years ago, my parents dragged me to a Gene Pitney concert. If you’re unfamiliar with the since-deceased Gene Pitney, you’re hardly alone. Even I was too young to know who that was, but that didn’t stop my parents anyway. “He the guy who sings ‘Town Without Pity’!” they cried. I was like whuh? They took me to the show, which was located in a rural Connecticut amphitheater that was essentially a circus tent. Pitney did his set in the round, including his aforementioned, lone greatest hit. I think I had an all-right time. Gene Pitney was a professional. He was also 106 years old, but he knew how to work a stage. Never let your self-perceived reputation get in the way of heading out to go see a long-in-the-tooth artist grab one last paycheck. Besides, Nas is cooler than Gene Pitney. I doubt that’ll ever change.



Is it socially acceptable for a grown man to take a glove to a baseball game? I’m going to be catching a couple games during a business trip to Florida in a couple weeks, so I’ll be without the wife and kids. Am I going to look like a weirdo walking in solo with a glove during batting practice?


Yeah, but that’s all right. Do what you enjoy. Again, no point in letting your ego get in the way of having fun. It’s one thing if you’re Zack Hample and you’re elbowing toddlers out of the way to snatch up balls to sell on eBay like a smug prick. But if you wanna bring a glove to a game as a one-off, I won’t judge you. You’re not gonna catch jack shit, and stadium security will probably confiscate your glove and burn it right in front of you. Even if you do manage to get your glove through the gate, you’ll probably end up cursing yourself for having the bright idea to lug one around a ballpark for fours hours. But hopefully you’ll be dead drunk for all that. HOORAY BASEBALL!

I have brought a glove to an MLB game in the past, like when I was a teenager. I absolutely felt like a member of the team when I did that. LOOGIT ME! I’M AN OUTFIELDER! I caught nothing.



I’m in medical school. At what point can I reply to an airline or public page for a doctor? I really want to do this though I know that it’s lame to want public praise.


In my mind, you have to graduate first. If I was having a heart attack in an airport terminal and the first guy to rush to my aide turned out to be Nick Riviera, Hollywood Upstairs Medical School freshman, I would be distraught. I want my doctor to be a doctor.

However, if it’s clear that you’re the ONLY person in the immediate vicinity who knows jack shit about medicine, and you’re know what the patient involved needs and if you can give them what they need, fine. Put on your scrubs. You’re the last resort, but that’s better than no resort. You’re the only girl left at the bar for last call.


Email of the week!


I regularly donate noncash items worth, in my estimation, about $499 annually. On one recent Goodwill visit, the attendant pulled the cart to the back of my trunk, and we loaded the following items:

1. A giant foam hand making a shocker gesture with the caption “Shock ‘Em”

2. A Halloween decorative bouquet of fake dead flowers

3. A tape recorder that we acquired from my grandmother-in-law 10 years ago (with 1 tape included)

The attendant asked me if I wanted a receipt, and I somewhat-embarrisingly said “sure.” My wife looked at me side-eyed. I could sense the regret that she had for ever being associated with me. Later, I attempted to complete the tax form but couldn’t bring myself to do it.

What is the most worthless item you’ve ever donated?

Probably a tray of brownies to the back-to-school picnic. I use the shitty mix for those. The Ghirardelli mix I keep for myself.

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.