People can be so annoying.
This is not some Earth-shattering revelation; I am well aware of that. It’s more just a general observation, based on the fact that lately, I have run up against some really potent examples of the “Up Your Own Ass” syndrome; people who have entirely inflated senses of self, and exist mainly as legends in their own minds.
One of the truisms of life is that when people feel the need to relentlessly promote themselves and drag other people down, it’s a sign that they’re scrambling to cover something they feel is deficient in their own person. Truly legendary people generally walk softly, and don’t require the fatuous fawning of others to feel good. They have a few trusted advisors, and a sense of purpose that allows them to move in the world with quiet confidence and peace.
Here are some examples:
- the badass, Congress-defying three star USMC general who, standing in my kitchen, corrected me when I introduced him to a friend as “General X” and said “I prefer to go by [his first name]; I’m not entirely sure how this ‘general’ thing happened.”
- the literary legend (and completely delightful dinner companion), who, having launched the careers of many of the country’s best writers, still exhibits genuine interest in the opinions of a lowly grad student and a couple of high school seniors.
- George Bush, Sr., who felt that the word “I” was too self-aggrandizing.
- my boss in Manhattan, who walked out of a meeting on a bazillion-dollar deal to make sure his dentist would see me immediately when I was punched in the face by a lunatic on the subway.
- my boss in Washington, D.C., who arranged her schedule to celebrate everyone in the office with beer and cake on their birthday, including the interns — one of whom is now using his Masters, MBA and JD to do incredible work around the world, yet still answers to “Turd Ferguson” when I call him, and fully embodies the idea of a servant’s heart.
All of these people know who they are, and furthermore, they know what’s important.
And then there are the clowns. The strivers, the reachers, the climbers, who think the only way up is by pulling others down and constantly insisting on their innate superiority. These are the people who set up arbitrary and meaningless distinctions to make themselves look better — the “you’re not from here so you can’t ever really belong” clowns, the “you believe in God so you are, de facto, a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal” clowns, the “I’m more educated and thus can’t possibly learn anything from you so I’m just going to talk over you” clowns, the “I earn more than you ever will and therefore have no need to treat you like a human being because you’re not useful to me” clowns — all the people who go through life relentlessly tooting their own horns, taking potshots at other people, believing their own press, and generally making the world a bit less pleasant on a minute-by-minute basis.
I’ve got news for you clowns:
(1) having been born in a place doesn’t grant you dominion over it, and furthermore, your little ‘slice of heaven’ has some drawbacks, same as any other place — the primary drawback of your particular place being your presence in it, if you must know the truth,
(2) not everyone who has faith also has rickets and parents who are genetically related, and there may even be a religious person or two who has something to offer the world other than snake handling tips and a Tongues to English translation chart,
(3) this will come as a shock to you, but someone lacking a Masters or PhD may actually be able to hold a cogent thought in his or her (non-pointy) head, despite not having spent years writing papers no one reads about other people’s work,
(4) your evaluation of a human being’s worth based on their income or social status or house size or alma mater is a sign of your own insecurity, not your spectacular insight. And, while we’re on the subject, your constant assertion of your right to be heard isn’t really fooling anyone; you actually look like a giant toddler, waving your sticky hands and demanding to be accommodated.
Can you tell I’m ready to go home? Not that everyone here is an assclown; far from it. I feel incredibly grateful to have become friends with dozens of people here, all of whom have minds that inspire me and senses of humor that constantly entertain me, and hearts as big as Wyoming. But at the moment, I keep running up against people who insist upon writing their life stories in glitter pen….and it’s getting old.
So I am eager to go home, because, in a world full of assclowns, it helps immensely to have a core group of friends you trust, kids who make you laugh, familiar surroundings, and a couple of dogs who think you’re incredible because you magically make kibble appear twice a day.
In the words of those lovely turtleneck-wearing icons, Simon and Garfunkel (Homeward Bound):
And every stranger’s face I see reminds me that I long to be,
I wish I was,
Home, where my thought’s escaping,
Home, where my music’s playing,
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.
Soon. And to the people there who are counting down the days with me, thanks for sometimes being clowns, but never, ever assclowns.