“Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, please,” etiquette, or at least Madison Avenue, instructs supplicants. “Just get me some f—ing bacon-jalapeno mac-and-cheese,” Luke Gatti demands.
On Sunday the University of Connecticut student pushed, cursed, and taunted a manager for refusing him service at a campus eatery for allegedly drinking in the dry establishment. Worst of all, he did this wearing sweatpants, socks, and sandals. By Friday, the bro’s bad manners, to say nothing of his fashion faux pas, became known to everybody with electricity.
“This is gonna be posted somewhere,” Gatti helpfully informed the manager upon spotting the iPhone paparazzi. “You’re gonna look like a f—ing fool.” He was half right.
The student’s contempt for the working man (“Your job is a f—ing joke”), his entitlement (“Just f—ing give me my food”), and his hubris in the face of consequences (“Yeah, yeah, I’m gonna get expelled!”) astound the viewer. But his bizarre gustatory enthusiasms most disturb this viewer.
You eat macaroni and cheese in kindergarten. You drink in public on skid row. Gatti and his late-night snack both combine an adolescent’s entitlement with an adult’s excess. The meal sums up the man-child.
Learning that the UConn student received his walking papers from UMass for two arrests in the first two weeks of school last fall surprises about as much as learning that Ronda Rousey likes to work out. “I’m a little concerned you’re going to pull a trifecta before the month is over,” the judge astutely told him. Gatti allegedly kicked a policeman in one Amherst incident and called a Caucasian cop the n-word in another. The Long Islander appears as a walking case for legalizing police brutality and raising the drinking age to 35.
Boys once itched to become men—flee the hometown at first chance to join the army, join the circus, or join with a woman—and get on with life. Gatti appears as an exaggerated version of the physically grown-up but socially stunted males Kay Hymowitz wrote about in Manning Up. He demands his rights but flees from his responsibilities. A dude? A bro? A guy? Sure. A man? Not yet.
The modern phenomenon of suspended adolescence keeping Master Gatti back meets a postmodern phenomenon of suspended adolescence that promises to continue to keep him back. Pictures, Tweets, and videos released upon the world in one’s teens can remain in the world in one’s twenties and thirties. Youth is fleeting but the Internet is permanent. Technology captures our worst moments and presents them to the world as us in a nutshell. Gatti hectoring the manager of the food court promises to hector Gatti.
God watching us once regulated behavior. God Google watching us similarly restrains despite its failings as a deity in other spheres (surely Google proves a less forgiving God). God keeps our sins quiet; Google puts them on blast.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” bests “Act the way you would if you knew your actions would become an Internet meme” as moral advice. But both serve to temper bad behavior.
“The spiritual terrors wielded by the clergy, enforced by all the forces of tradition, habit, ceremony, vestments, and prestige, took the place of a thousand laws and a hundred thousand policemen in maintaining social order and social obedience,” Will and Ariel Durant informed of Catholic France in The Age of Voltaire. If man, or, in this case, a man-child, will not acknowledge spiritual terrors, society assuredly endures terrors (and Sunday night annoyances). God, home, schools—something—failed to restrain the big brat on the nine-minute video. Hopefully the presence of the omniscient God Google jars him to live a life that rebuts the reputation showcased on the search engine.
Joe Jackson fantasizes “I’m never gonna be 35” in his song “Nineteen Forever.” Through the wonders of technology, Luke Gatti stays 19 forever. One Englishman’s dream plays out as an American’s nightmare.