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The PunchBuggy!

By Sean McBride
October 16th 2001

Some people would say that a man's attraction to fast, expensive cars is nothing more than a grasp at physical dominance over his peers. I would like to punch those people, because I know I'm better than they are.

I just bought a shiny red VW Beetle, also known as a punchbuggy. This is a beautiful thing, because now wherever I go, whomever I happen to see, I have full clearance to jump out of the car, call "Punchbuggy Red!" and sock the bastard in the jaw. No court could convict me! I can punch anybody: mean people, nice people, people who say "pop" instead of "soda," people who own those lame scooters with the inept little wheels, people who buy not one, but two Furbies so they can have them talk to each other, and heck--even Reese Witherspoon. All very punchable people, you'll agree. If there is any other reason to own a punchbuggy, then I don't know what it is.

I'm not sure why I brought up Reese Witherspoon; there's just something about her that I can't put my finger on. It's nothing personal really, it's just that every time I see her I want to punch her in the face. Okay, well I guess that is pretty personal, but I have nothing against her; she seems to be having a very succesful acting career, and I have to admit that it's well deserved. In "Pleasantville" she proved her ability to handle a role that could not be farther from her true personality--the role of a superficial, stuck-up bitch. It was convincing, too! Furthermore, I found her performance in "Election" to be rather naturalistic as well. (Come to think of it, she played a bitch in that one too.) Well I haven't seen "Legally Blonde" yet, but I'm sure that she carries on the same solid performance that we've come to love and expect (as a bitch). Truth be told, I only wish her the best. But I would still really love it--I mean love, love, love it--if someday I could punch her in her fat, sweaty face.

What I truly need is a fresh outlet for my aggression--that's what my boss is recommending anyway. (Apparently beating your co-workers with sausages and frolicking about in your Tarzan underoos is considered "inappropriate behavior for the office." Damn him and his rules!) Sure, I could always take up knitting, fly-fishing, milk cap collecting, bonsai kitten sculpting, selling spatulas door to door, breeding gerbils, and collecting my bodily discharges in a jar. Collecting your bodily discharges in a jar is a good one, because it's less pollution for the environment. But really, when it comes to aggression, what better outlet than the hot, chubby face of an unsuspecting punchee?

Hence the punchbuggy.

So when I brought it home all shiny and new, my dad suggested that I take it out for a spin. Of course, hindsight is always twenty-twenty, and it's obvious now that "taking it for a spin" meant taking an orderly ride around the neighborhood, obeying traffic laws and such. But at the moment, I thought he meant taking it into the backyard and busting out some major donuts. I remember gleefully ripping three foot circles in the lawn at forty miles per hour, giggling like a schoolboy, when my parents leapt out the kitchen window (something they don't usually do, so I knew something was up), faces as red as Santa Claus's hat, yelling and motioning desperately at me to get the hell off their lawn and away from their property. Normally I would've called a "Punchbuggy Red" on the suckers, but it seemed like bad form to repay the people who gave birth to me with a torn-up lawn and a beating, even if it were a light beating. So I zoomed off, in search of different outlets for my aggression, preferably ones that weren't members of my immediate family (sorry Grandma).

Now, if you know me, you know that I am lactose intolerant. I hate lactose! I won't stand for it! Nor will I stand for the shameless vending of it to young, impressionable children. Naturally my first stop was the Baskin Robbins, because I had thirty-one reasons to give the ice cream man a severe beating. Little did I know that I would do battle with enemies far worse than lactose.

Another thing you might know about me is that I don't like paying parking meters, so when I arrived at the ice cream store, I just drove my car straight through the front window. Got a few dirty looks, but they were just jealous because they weren't smart enough to save a few quarters themselves. Like it's the smart people's fault that the rest of the world is full of idiots. So I shoved my way up to the front of the line, where these two wise-guy kids in the front wouldn't budge; they were at that age where all they do is walk around angry and sarcastic all the time, mocking everyone and everything around them, rebelling against anything that gets in their way. So I called a "Punchbuggy Red!" on them, taught 'em a lesson. All three-year-olds are like that nowadays. It's sad, really. Forcing my way to the counter, I found myself face-to-face with Roy, the employee on duty. He was all freckles and glasses and had that "I-watch-Star-Trek" look to him.

"You and your Double Banana Fudge Nut Swirl," I seethed with disgust. "You make me sick."

"Huh?" he asked, quite confused.

"No, literally, it makes me sick," I explained. "I can't eat ice cream. I'm lactose intolerant. And I'm calling a Punchbuggy Red on your lactose-serving ass. So say your prayers, Roy, because after this day sorbet will rule the world!" I grabbed him by his shirt collar like the bad-ass with a punchbuggy that I am and wound up for the punch.

"Wait! You can't punch me!"

"And why is that?" I demanded.

"Because... because I'm wearing glasses?" stuttered Roy.

We stood there for a moment, my fist frozen in the air. "Dang, you're right. Glasses: my only weakness!"

I dropped Roy and slumped away from the counter. Emasculation consumed me, and I scanned the room for another outlet for my aggression--an old man, a wiener dog--anyone. She was standing right behind me, must have come in when I wasn't paying attention. Her face was even more annoying in person than on the screen, and her nostrils were flaring in that alien way they tend to do... oh, those alien nostrils. It was Reese Witherspoon, Punchable Person Extraordinaire.

There she was with her fat, sweaty face, all sweaty and fat. It was perfect. It was more than perfect. The gods had put her there specifically for me to punch in the face. How could I say no to the gods? It was my calling. But I froze.

Reese stood before me. She looked at the red punchbuggy, then at me, then at the punchbuggy, then at me, clenching her hand into a fist, drawing it back for a punch, and yelled--you guessed it--"Where are your pants?!"

Did I forget to mention that I wasn't wearing any pants? Well I wasn't. It was the peak of summer, and because my parents didn't have air conditioning, our house often reached sauna-like conditions. The easiest way to cope with this was to forego pants, which I did with much frequency and gusto. If outdoor temperatures were as sweltering as the indoor's, I would go pantless outside as well. Of course I got some negative feedback from strangers, but that's all part of dealing with dim-witted people who are jealous of your creative ideas. So anyway, when Reese questioned my attire--or lack thereof--I humored her dim-wittedness with an enlightened, highly-intellectualized response.

"Uh... I don't know."

That was when she screamed "Pervert!" and punched me in the face, knocking me over.

"Hey, you can't do that!" I yelled after her, as she was now walking away. "You didn't call Punchbuggy Red! You're punching me in your spare time! That's against the rules!" But she heeded not my complaints, and marched away--fat, sweaty face and all. As I picked myself up, I realized I had landed squarely on someone's chocolate sundae, tarnishing my boxers. A free fashion tip: brown goo on the back of your underwear is a no-no; I don't care what kind of goo it is.

The entire ice cream store erupted in laughter. Hundreds, even thousands of mocking fingers pointed in my direction as I scrambled around on the floor, slipping in melted ice cream, making an even worse mess of myself. Even Roy was laughing, all freckles and glasses, snot hanging out of his nose. "I'll get you for this, Reese!" I hollered, vowing to redouble my efforts, naming her every curse I'd ever known. "I'll get you!!!" And then she was gone.

* * * * *

So in a lot of ways, I feel a connection with George W. Bush, who is possibly the most misunderstood man of our times. You see, it's not that he's AGAINST the environment so much as it is that he's FOR the mega-corporations. People seem to have a hard time understanding that, and I think he gets judged unfairly because of it. In the same vein, it's not that I'm AGAINST Reese Witherspoon, it's more that I'm FOR punching her in the face. I can see how someone might take that very personally, but really it's not. I find her charming in fact, and I only wish her the best. The best punch in the face, that is. You know, I thought this puchbuggy would help me vent my aggression, but so far it's only served to exacerbate it. Tomorrow I think I'll forego the punchbuggy protocol and just start running people over in the street. I can see them getting all worked up about it already, the town council and the PTA, saying "Ohhh! You can't just run people over with your car! That's against the law!" But you know what? They're just jealous because they didn't think of it first.

It may seem like my life is nothing but punchbuggies and lemon-flavored sorbets, but it's not. It's hard being me--people judging me unfairly, trying to cramp my style, always ragging on me to put on some pants. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth it, the price I pay for being superior to everyone else. And I'd have to say that it is; it's worth it for the pants.



Sean McBride, a renowned expert on the subject of anger management issues, has taught a nation how to channel its abundant rage with his best-selling book "The Gentle Maniac: Using Violence for Constructive Ends." Email -

Visit his excellent humor/cartoon/animation website: