Home > Moron Management > The Origin of “Puke On His Shoes”

The Origin of “Puke On His Shoes”

Longtime Zuskateers know that I often recommend, or express the desire to engage in, puking upon someone’s shoes when they have behaved in an egregious manner. Perhaps you have occasionally wondered whence came this delightful phrase.


A thousand years ago, when I was still a graduate student in Boston, I went to visit a friend of mine in D.C. On the long train trip back to Boston, a suited gentleman (and I use the term very loosely) sat down next to me somewhere around Baltimore. I was deeply engrossed in a novel, but this moron didn’t care. He interrupted my reading with a steady stream of chatter, asking me very personal questions about myself and trying to hit on me.
He ignored my attempts to ignore him, which included continuing to bury my head in the novel, turning my back and shoulders towards him and hunching slightly over the book. He was so confident of his charms and so sure that I was so into him and so convinced that at any moment I would swoon and fall into his arms – the wedding ring on my left hand was not even a deterrent for him – that I despaired of ever being left in peace. I was sitting by the window and he was by the aisle. Short of getting up and leaving the seat, I could not think of how to be rid of him. The train was packed, and if I vacated my seat I wasn’t sure where I would find another one.
Finally, in absolute utter desperation, I blurted out – this was not conscious, it came from somewhere within deep within me, from my gut – in a rather loud and angry voice, “IF YOU DON’T SHUT UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE I’M GOING TO PUKE ON YOUR SHOES!”
Silence! He shut up! He looked startled! Frightened, even. Perhaps he concluded that I was…um…a crazy bitch. Whatever. He did not utter another word. Within a minute or so he gathered up his things and left the seat. Didn’t see him again for the rest of the train trip. Which I enjoyed in happy solitude, able to read my novel in peace. It was a beautiful thing.
There is a moral to this story, my friends. You see, I tried politeness. I tried subtle cues to get him to stop his obnoxious behavior. I tried to hint to him that his attentions were unwanted. I did not want to be rude. I did not want to make a fuss in public. Woman are not supposed to be loud and rude in public. Women are supposed to negotiate and be polite and seek resolution and build consensus and not be off-putting. I tried all my best womanly tactics to deal with this overbearing ignorant moronic son-of-a-bitch. They didn’t work.
The moral of this story, my friends, is that sometimes, it’s the loud, angry, crazy bitch who gets the results.
Women tend to think rage is a dangerous thing that will devour and consume – themselves, the ones they love, the world around them. This is not (necessarily) true. Embrace your rage, and make it work for you. Rage, properly acknowledged and wisely used, can be a very powerful catalyst for change.

Categories: Moron Management
  1. igor eduardo kupfer
    December 4, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    I have no idea how this notion got around that a wedding ring is any kind of deterrent. I have made an extensive survey of my single male acquaintances, and almost none of them even think to look for a ring. I certainly don’t. People tend to generalise from their own experience, and if you’re single, you just assume that is the default state for everybody.
    Bothering someone reading a book, though, is a crime that almost necessitates having the transgressor end up with puke on his shoes. No tolerance, I say.

  2. Kristin
    December 4, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    I love the phrase “puke on his shoes” and the variants that you use. It’s reminiscent for me of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog: “It’s good enough…for me to poop on!”
    It’s useful because I think more people will come back and read the blog when you can mix in a bit of humor with pointing out painful truths. And that’s important, because you deserve a wider audience. There’s those of us who would read you no matter what because it speaks directly to our experience, but there are more people out there who need to read you, even if they don’t know it yet. So keep puking on those shoes!

  3. T. Bruce McNeely
    December 4, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks for this story. It will be a useful tool to deal with the inevitable obnoxious tools that I encounter. However, as a guy, I don’t have to deal with the obnoxious persistent “hitting on” stuff. Shoe puke would be a restrained response, in my opinion.

  4. Katherine Sharpe
    December 4, 2006 at 2:20 pm

    I

  5. Katherine Sharpe
    December 4, 2006 at 2:21 pm

    Weird, that didn’t work. I was trying to say I love this post, and that it’s true (at least for me) what you say about rage and the fear of rage. So thanks for telling the story. Maybe it will inspire me to let it out next time.

  6. SharonC
    December 4, 2006 at 4:41 pm

    This issue is SUCH a peeve with me. It keeps happening, that no matter how many times I assert something politely in a non-aggressive manner, it is ONLY when I cross the “polite line” that the other person (always a man) actually believes what I say.
    It is infuriating beyond belief. This crops up So. Many. Times. I am SO fed up with it. You can’t flippin’ win. You either get ignored completely or you get labelled a bitch, or over-aggressive, or “hey, no need to be like that, I was only askin'”. There IS NO MIDDLE GROUND. Doesn’t matter what kind of a man it is, I’ve had this sort of thing from the insensitive oaf type to sensitive boyfriend type.
    Why should I have to get mad in the first place? Why should someone’s rudeness force me into a place where I am in danger of saying something that could really get me into hot water? And then it’s MY fault for exploding, of course, it’s not the person’s fault who dripped the water droplets, it’s the person who screams from the water torture.
    I had one just today (again). Someone knocks on my office door and I thought they were someone else arriving for a meeting (otherwise I wouldn’t have opened the door in the first place). Turns out to be a man wanting to ask a query (my office hours were written next to the door but oh no he couldn’t wait an hour). So I explain that I’m sorry, I’m really busy and can’t deal with his query right now, he’ll have to make an appointment if he wants to see me. CLEAR. POLITE. Yet does he take the “no” as a “no”? NO, HE DOES NOT. HE TAKES IT AS AN INVITATION TO TRY HARDER. He says he just wants to ask a query.
    WHO TEACHES MEN THAT NO DOESN’T MEAN NO?!?!?!?!?!?!
    Fortunately I have run through this particular version of the script several times before and I’ve evolved a relatively polite way of dealing with it (without the yelling). So I said something like “I *said*, I can’t see you now, you’ll have to make an appointment.” and closed the door quickly on him before he could reply. Optional end step: lock door, quickly go to your desk and put on headphones and turn the volume up LOUD.
    I could go on and on and on and on; I have soooooooooooooooo many examples but I’m really worn out by this stupid issue. I am not unassertive. It’s not like I just hint, hoping that they’ll get the unspoken message. I’m direct, and polite, and THEY WILL NOT LISTEN TO POLITE.

  7. December 4, 2006 at 5:13 pm

    SharonC, yes yes yes. And if you complain about this to a guy, he says “Well, why don’t you just explain politely that yada yada ya”. AARGH.
    Zuska, great story. In fact, more than a story. A Fable, with a Moral to it.

  8. December 4, 2006 at 5:13 pm

    SharonC, yes yes yes. And if you complain about this to a guy, he says “Well, why don’t you just explain politely that yada yada ya”. AARGH.
    Zuska, great story. In fact, more than a story. A Fable, with a Moral to it.

  9. Tinni
    December 4, 2006 at 6:27 pm

    wow, Zuska thanks for the story. For some reason your posts always reassert my belief that It’s not me, I’m not really a crazy bitch they kinda force it.

  10. December 4, 2006 at 10:43 pm

    I am glad to learn the origin of that comment! Speaking as someone who has been in similar situations (huh, haven’t we all?) I’m glad I haven’t had to resort to yelling about my vomit potential. I’m also glad that it is not just me that acts like the crazy bitch at time. Feeling a bit better now.
    I have a three strikes rule. I respond to queries or irritations once politely but firmly, then once firmly, then very very forcefully. If anyone is stupid enough to push it past that then I let the crazy bitch have her moment in the sun. Then I am guilt ridden for hours. I have no idea why No does not mean No to some men. Can you imagine the reputation of any woman who behaved in that way to men?

  11. Tina Rhea
    December 5, 2006 at 12:22 am

    I recommend two songs on the subject: folksinger (and onetime member of The Four Bitchin’ Babes) Christine Lavin’s “Getiing in Touch with My Inner Bitch” and, even better, “Bitch With a Bad Attitude”, especially the live version, by Saffire, the Uppity Blues Women. The latter informs us that “bitch” stands for a Being In Total Control of Herself. So maybe controlling the situation takes a little loss of control… if that’s all that gets their attention.
    I recall some language guide which contained phrases you might actually need, including, for the taxi driver, “If you don’t slow down, I’ll vomit.” Again, whatever makes them listen.

  12. csrster
    December 5, 2006 at 5:32 am

    There’s a bit in Egil’s saga where Egil Skallagrimmson gets so pissed off with someone that he pukes _down their throat_.
    You might want to remember that if the “puke on your shoes” line isn’t strong enough some time.

  13. jon
    December 5, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    Happy to chime in with a hairy-armed point of view here: You could’ve told him to back off (politely or otherwise), but instead put up with his crap until you lost your temper. He was obviously an asshole, but he was also obviously rather dim when it came to nonverbals. He might even have learned something from the experience (other than that you were acting like a crazy person).

  14. jon
    December 5, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    Happy to chime in with a hairy-armed point of view here: You could’ve told him to back off (politely or otherwise), but instead put up with his crap until you lost your temper. He was obviously an asshole, but he was also obviously rather dim when it came to nonverbals. He might even have learned something from the experience (other than that you were acting like a crazy person).

  15. December 5, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    Jon has a point. It does seem as if you skipped from subtle to loud without any intermediate steps. You might think he’d catch onto your hints but some people don’t. Next time try plain speech:
    “Please leave me alone: I do not want to interact with you at all. If you persist, my next response will be loud enough for everyone to hear.”
    Of course if a guy can’t get that hint, puke away; he has it coming.

  16. December 5, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    Decrepitoldfool, Jon has no point whatsoever. Suited Man, like 90% of males in American society, suffered from an inability or unwillingness or both to read verbal and nonverbal cues from other people. Generally, if you are trying to speak to a stranger, and they repeatedly turn away from you and continue reading a book, it means they do not wish to speak to you. After 30 minutes of this, it should be sufficient for even the most thickheaded of pervy clods to get a clue.
    Nevertheless: you weren’t there. I did not recount every single tiny detail of what went on that day, because I was telling a story. I didn’t write down how many times I made polite “ha ha” or “oh really” replies to his inanities followed by “I think I’ll get back to my book” or “if you don’t mind, I’m reading a book” or variants there of. But putting all that detail in the post above ruins the flow of the story.
    Women who read this story are smart enough to realize all of this because all of us, at one time or another, have been subjected to a similar idiot in some similar situation. The world is full of clueless males who assume that they can impinge upon your personal space, your time, your life as they wish and their presence will always be welcomed because, well, it’s HIM. And (most) men don’t understand when women tell a story like the one above because they are not used to having their personal space impinged upon over and over and over again and not having their wishes respected when they make it reasonably clear that they do not wish the impinger to impinge.
    I don’t need your frickin’ advice about what to do next time. I’ve had a thousand frickin’ next times already in my lifetime.
    I appreciate, Decrepitoldfool, that you are generally trying to be supportive. But your post comes dangerously close to the category of “don’t be angry, you should be more polite.” This blog does not exist for men to instruct women in where and when and how they should be more polite.

  17. December 5, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    I notice that criticism of this story (that you didn’t explicitly asking him to leave you alone before going from hints to PUKE ON YOUR SHOES) has only shown up after Why I Am Not Polite was posted, and exactly in accordance with MissPrism’s forecasts. Imagine that.

  18. mangoboba
    December 5, 2006 at 2:10 pm

    Jon and Decrepitoldfool, I can see your point about being polite, but I have to agree with Zuska here. Yes, it’d be nicer to politely tell the guy to leave, but that doesn’t always work. Taking the polite route only makes guys like suited-gentlemen try even harder. You need to shock guys like that into going away and you lose the shock value if you slowly ramp up the loudness/standoffishness.
    And sure, the guy might’ve learned something from the experience if Zuska calmly told him to leave her alone, but she wasn’t there to educate guys on how not to treat womem, she was there on vacation! Everyone needs their down time. Give her a break!

  19. December 7, 2006 at 8:52 am

    What Zuska said. Of course there were intermediate stages. There always are. They don’t work because you don’t actually have the guy’s attention. He’s not seeing you as a singular, autonomous, decision-making human being. You’re a girl, he’s appointed you to be his entertainment during the ride, and ignoring the feedback he gets is an integral part of the way he chats girls up. He’s running on automatic. The specific rule he’s running on is, “whatever she does, just keep talking.” That he could be harassing you is not considered in his scenario.
    This means no normal social signals are going to get through to him. You know the joke about how first you have to get the mule’s attention? It’s like that. And if he wasn’t willfully ignoring everything short of getting hit in the head with a two-by-four, it wouldn’t be necessary.

  20. December 7, 2006 at 8:52 am

    What Zuska said. Of course there were intermediate stages. There always are. They don’t work because you don’t actually have the guy’s attention. He’s not seeing you as a singular, autonomous, decision-making human being. You’re a girl, he’s appointed you to be his entertainment during the ride, and ignoring the feedback he gets is an integral part of the way he chats girls up. He’s running on automatic. The specific rule he’s running on is, “whatever she does, just keep talking.” That he could be harassing you is not considered in his scenario.
    This means no normal social signals are going to get through to him. You know the joke about how first you have to get the mule’s attention? It’s like that. And if he wasn’t willfully ignoring everything short of getting hit in the head with a two-by-four, it wouldn’t be necessary.

  21. Dale Austin
    December 7, 2006 at 9:20 am

    Allow me to share my favorite phrase: “I’m going to go in and piss on his desk!”
    Yes, there is a story. It involves a man with a better job, a jerk boss, and a six pack for breakfast. The boss was sitting at the desk at the time.
    Family friend-and not his most outrageous act.

  22. Kyle Armbruster
    December 12, 2006 at 6:03 am

    You know what would have also worked? You could have stabbed him.
    Just because something works doesn’t mean it’s good.
    The guy sounds like an idiot, and certainly rude. But the way you tell the story, you sound like a self-congratulatory jerk. He obviously didn’t know he was upsetting you so much. WAS there a “Look, I really just want to read my book” comment? If not, here’s what the guy has to work with:
    “I ask a question, she answers.”
    Being polite is answering the first and then when it’s clear he’s going to go on, telling him you don’t want to talk to him.
    You were upset because “90% of men” ignore verbal communication, but don’t you think that should indicate that it’s not going to work? Why is it your expectation that, by your estimations, approaching 50% of society should adjust to your communication style?
    I mean, it’s SMOOTHER and MORE COMFORTABLE to deal with problems like this nonverbally, but sometimes you have to say things in different ways to get through to other people. In your case, at least in the form of the story here, you went from weakly putting up with his annoying chatter to weakly exploding at him. Sitting there quietly suffering when a simple sentence would have likely ended it is spineless. So is being rude.
    So, to sum the situation up as I see it (based solely on your telling of the story): You lash out at people when you get frustrated with your own lack of confidence to tackle social problems head-on.
    And you want a medal for it.
    Gee… Walks like a bitch, talks like a bitch…

  23. December 12, 2006 at 9:35 am

    When some men even manage to ignore clear, written English like
    I made polite “ha ha” or “oh really” replies to his inanities followed by “I think I’ll get back to my book” or “if you don’t mind, I’m reading a book”,
    what use is speaking, let alone using nonverbal signals whose meaning is bloody obvious to anyone who bothers to take notice?

  24. December 12, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    Kyle, I’m sure your boyish ego will be ever so thrilled to learn that the Open Pit Irony Mine exists just for you. Do stop by and dig up a clue.

  25. December 12, 2006 at 7:23 pm

    Why Kyle, I did not ASK for a medal but I will be glad to accept one!
    Meantime, I am giving YOU the I Am An Ignorant Moron Who Threatened By All This Feminism Stuff Who Must Flap My Mouth And Expose My Moronocity Award for the week.
    You “obviously” know what the asshole I dealt with was thinking, though you were not there, and you don’t know all the details of the incident. Congratulations! Your mind-reading powers know no limits – not of space or time!
    I mean, it’s SMOOTHER and MORE COMFORTABLE to deal with problems like this nonverbally, but sometimes you have to say things in different ways to get through to other people.
    Yeah. Like, “If you don’t shut up, I’m going to puke on your shoes.” Which worked, and was legal, and didn’t involve stabbing him. Which would have been messy – the authorities frown upon that sort of thing.
    I love the way you call me weak, since obviously you are threatened by the notion of a woman standing up for herself. I am sure you consider your comment unique but do take a look at the Irony Mine, I assure you, you are only one in a long tired line of cranky men who all say the same thing. Ho hum. Boring.

  26. Kyle Armbruster
    December 16, 2006 at 8:11 am

    The feeling is mutual.
    Women who stand up for themselves? Cool. Those are the people I like to hang out with.
    Weak women who just take the shit some guys dish out? Pains in the ass, because they never stop whining and refuse to do anything about it themselves.
    Weak women who call being sexist and pissy all the time “standing up for themselves?” Goddamn bores. Goddamn self-righteous bores.
    Say something nice about men or I will stop reading your blog.

  27. December 16, 2006 at 10:30 am

    I interpret that last line as a #8 from the Irony Mine. Using that as a closer seems an interesting choice.
    Looks to me as if that completes one lap around a feedback loop. Seems like a fine time for a pit stop.

  28. December 16, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    Oh my god. Kyle is going to stop reading my blog if I do not say something nice about men! I am heartbroken. Excuse me while I retire to my chambers and weep copiously.

  29. January 9, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    “The world is full of clueless males who assume that they can impinge upon your personal space, your time, your life as they wish and their presence will always be welcomed because, well, it’s HIM.”
    Oh, now, to be fair, many of them simply suffer from swollen ball syndrome.
    “Say something nice about men or I will stop reading your blog.”
    Wow. I’ve read a lot of stupid comments. But that deserves some sort of award.

  30. January 9, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    “The world is full of clueless males who assume that they can impinge upon your personal space, your time, your life as they wish and their presence will always be welcomed because, well, it’s HIM.”
    Oh, now, to be fair, many of them simply suffer from swollen ball syndrome.
    “Say something nice about men or I will stop reading your blog.”
    Wow. I’ve read a lot of stupid comments. But that deserves some sort of award.

  31. Laura
    February 23, 2007 at 11:42 am

    I often spend my lunch break at a cafe near work, eating a sandwich and reading. On one occasion an older gentleman, also alone, sat down at the table next to mine and made a few comments about my book (clearly he knew the author, etc., and was legitimately making conversation). I was polite and engaged him in conversation even though I really wanted to spend a quiet lunch alone. A few minutes afterward I left, so as to not continue the conversation further.
    On a second, recent day, I was at the same cafe, new book, alone, sandwich, etc. The same man recognized me and started talking to me again. I’m not sure if he considers us to be lunch buddies now or what, but I really don’t know how to handle the situation anymore. He’s not threatening, but I feel uncomfortable making smalltalk with someone I don’t know, especially during my precious break time that I choose to spend by myself to unwind. I fear that there is no way out without seeming rude, standoffish, or crazy. While I don’t necessarily think he’s hitting on me (he appears to be about 25 years older), I also somehow don’t believe he’d be approaching a young man in the same way. It’s a sucky situation, and you reacted the way we’ve all wanted to react sometimes.

  32. February 23, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Laura, I’d try this: “As much as I enjoyed our brief conversation the other day, my lunch hour is rather precious to me. It’s important downtime from work, and I like to spend it alone, with my book, or just thinking. I’d rather not engage in conversation with anyone. Thank you for respecting my wishes.” It’s important that you not ASK him to respect your wishes, but that you thank him for doing so as if it is a given. Then return to your book. Don’t speak to him. If he continues speaking to you, say “I thought I made myself quite clear. I don’t want to talk. I am going to move to another table now.” Get up and move to another table. This will feel to you like you are being rude, but you are not. He will be the one being rude if he continues talking to you after you’ve asked him not to. Getting up and moving is a defensive tactic toward someone being rude. If he follows you to your new table and insists that he would just love talking to you, tell him “If you don’t leave me alone, I’m going to puke on your shoes.” Hee.

  33. Katherine
    September 2, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Looked this up on a whim. Conclusion: I love it. Though I’m so glad I’ve never had someone bug me when I’m reading (well, not past the point of showing them what I’m reading and then going back to it and them taking the hint.)

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