For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearance, as though they were realities and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are.
~ Niccolo Machiavelli
I’ll just put this up here at the beginning, to save you some time: I am a pretentious moron. Those of you who wish to concur can skip the rest of this and go on your merry way. For those of you inclined toward disagreement, read on . . .
My friend Ginny published a new post this morning. On my YIPEE! scale, such an event usually registers around 9.5 or so, for her writing is concocted of wit, charm, humor and intelligence, all in subtle but potent doses. She was one of the first people I “met” here in Blogland and we’ve grown somewhat close. One reason for this is that we use the same blogging platform and have helped each other weather the sometimes-turbulent seas of coding and protocol.
In her post, she referenced a video clip, and I sensed a storm a-brewing when I read:
You’re going to have to click here to watch it. (The fact that I got frustrated over the fact that I couldn’t embed it is the most beautiful irony. Watch it, or you won’t know what I’m talking about.)
At that point, my Brian-to-the-Rescue radar went all flashy and red and so I posted a couple comments. In one I included the video clip, and in another I shared how to properly embed video clips in posts. Quite proud of myself for having come to the aid of a friend in distress, I figured I’d take a moment to watch this clip that meant so much to her. Go ahead and give it a try . . .
Yeah. That’s what I got too. It wasn’t that she technically couldn’t post the clip, it’s that she literally couldn’t. And that is what crow tastes like. Maybe you’ve never eaten crow. It’s part of my daily diet, unfortunately. And it seems I’ll never tire of consuming it.
Not once before I chose to comment did I consider the fact that Ginny is extremely intelligent. Scary smart. That she probably tried to post the clip and got the same result I did. And that her statement above meant so much more than I read into it. Completely missing the irony to which she referred, I instead saw a chance to make myself look just a wee bit smarter than Ginny. Surely it wasn’t a conscious thought at the time, but in hindsight . . . there it lingers. Festers. A belated realization that had I taken a moment to dig up before commenting would have saved some valuable face.
Now? I just look stupid.
That’s the problem with pretentious people. We make up for our impatience, for our lack of self-confidence, for our general lack of knowledge and understanding, by putting forth stuff that is ultimately irrelevant and inconsequential. We are like the nerd who braves the high school dance only to be found out when our pocket protector peeks out from beneath our suit jacket. We try to be cool – to be smart, witty, charming, one of the crowd – but cannot for one minute separate ourselves from the accoutrements of our shortcomings. We try to bring you a drink, and then we end up slopping it on your pumps.
Maybe that’s being too rough on nerds. Some of my best friends are nerds, and they mean well. Let’s try another angle . . .
We are that guy at the party, or in the break room, or the one you meet while standing in line at the supermarket, who lifts his chin high and stares down his long, crooked nose at you when he hears something you said and is about to add his two cents. You know right off the bat that whatever he has to say is going to be lame. Misinformed. Lacking in deep, rich context. Seeping from a well only six inches deep. Yet you know he’s going to say it anyway. So you hear him out. You maybe nod your head and say something like, “That’s . . . interesting.” And then you don’t say anything else because that will just keep the conversation going. And that’s the last thing you want.
I am that guy. Though maybe just a bit more well-meaning. I want to be a part of the conversation. I often feel that I have something of value to contribute. And yet almost always I fall miserably short. The difference between me and that guy is that I’ll realize what a moron I am later. And I’ll hate that guy. I’ll feel the need to write about it, so I’ll draft something riddled with self-loathing, contrition, and still more pretense.
But Ginny won’t hate me. I can count on that . . .