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 . . .

[Flickr photo is by andryone and is protected]


17 thoughts on “Skxawng

  1. Ummm…at least you admit it! LOL…

    I commend you because I am the same way but I will not admit it as a fault.

    BTW – Louis C.K. rules (I know it is not an important part of you post but I felt like throwing in my 2 cents) 🙂

  2. I won’t hate you, either.

    And I’m pretty sure when I hear the word pretentious, you are one of the last people I think of. Funny the things we believe about ourselves, you know?

    Love and more love to you.

  3. Cool post. At least you are man enough to admit it.

    I’ve seen this clip…he’s hilarious to me!

  4. excellent post, excellent crow. well done.

  5. Pretentious?? I don’t see it. But you nailed it on the moron part!

    (I kid!! It’s what I do. See — I’m the guy that usually has nothing of substance to add to the conversation but feels he needs to say something so I make a ridiculous joke and then gets all awkward when the room goes silent.)

  6. Shit Brian, arent you describing all of us mere mortals? Or is there another group that dont fit this bill? 🙂

  7. OK, first of all, how many of my panicked emails have you answered, making widgets appear on the side of my blog where I couldn’t get them to show up? Hmm? How many?

    Secondly, you are far, far too kind.

    And third, oh my god, I get so smug in real life. You have no idea. And whether you’re quietly being smug or not, I have NEVER gotten that vibe from you. So chill, yo.

    Finally, don’t think that it escaped notice that you took a pretty meh post of mine, and used it as fodder for a FANTASTIC post. You little hermit crab, you.

  8. what you did instinctively wasn’t overtly pretentious – you were trying to help, jumped quickly into the fray to lend a hand to a friend. that whole “thinking about her being pretty smart and all that”? it takes a back seat to the instinct to help a friend.

    put away the flogging gear. you’re a good human. deal with it.

  9. I don’t think offering assistance is pretentious, but I didn’t read the emails/comments you sent, so I can’t say you weren’t being that way.

    I will say that I haven’t found you to be pretentious in our (admittedly limited) dealings, however.

    1. And therein lies the sneakiness of the pretentious. Generally, and in spite of my lame examples above, we pretentious folk hide it well. The guy in the supermarket? He may just be a nosy bastard who likes to butt in. But the pretentious are much more deliberate in our deceit.

      There are so few people around whom I can just be myself . . .

  10. Hmmmm…I’m sitting here wondering if you have ever been pretentious with me. Haven’t sensed it. I think you are just fine, stop beating yourself up.

  11. “It’s part of my daily diet, unfortunately. And it seems I’ll never tire of consuming it.”

    Loved that.

    Also, speaking from personal experience, I really see that kind of help and stepping in as, like you noted, an in in the conversation but not pretentious, not glib, oh look how smart I am, and more, look, I’m ok, right? am I ok? do you like me, I know if you got to know me, you’d like me, really, you would like me. You are far too hard on yourself. The older I get, the less hard I am on other people because most of it comes from wanting a bit of belonging and yes, even some hope of a little occasional admiration but really, who doesn’t like to feel like a hero, even if it’s for helping with an html issue.

    I know this was more a post about self-realizations than looking for everyone to tell you how great you are but really, you are one of the most humble and likable guys ever.

  12. Wow, what a great post. I am that guy too, only I think I’m more of an a$$ about it. Very beautifully done, in the thoughtfulness that makes you recognize the motivation, and in the writing that reveals it. *smiles* Thanks for this. I don’t see it as flogging, but as self-recognition and maybe even acceptance.

  13. I think we’ve all been that guy in the supermarket, as much as we’d like to think we aren’t.

  14. Careful you don’t get lost in the hoo-ha about realizing you are the annoying guy and stay in touch with that underlay of self-loathing. I have it too. It’s a deep deep pain that many of us carry. Cultural? Part of the human condition at the very least.

    I think it stems from an inborn need to belong (to the tribe). It’s all about survival. Imagine being mocked and rejected from your tribe 10,000 years ago. It’s more than hurt feelings. It’s life or death.

    I believe it’s part of our evolution to notice that insecure inner me and accept him or her. He’s OK. She’s OK. They can stay and even be loved. But they don’t have to run the show.

  15. Thanks for that reality check — delivered with healthy doses of humor!

  16. Dude, I like you, you post things of value, but you are being way, way hard on yourself. This whole post is a mea culpa for trying to go the extra mile in being helpful and being stymied along the way. If the embed had been allowed, we wouldn’t be reading this post, I have to think?

    I know all about confidence issues, I do absolutely get where you are coming from, so I am sorry if my comment here only makes you chew on your self esteem the same way it would for me, but it needs to be said: You’re just fine. Chillax brother!


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