Friday, August 30, 2019

Just Some Regular Guy

A friend just got back from a concert at a nationally famous winery. She'd sat next to an ordinary-looking dude with whom she enjoyed a pleasantly ordinary chat. Nice guy! Imagine her surprise (she told the story like it had a big twist) when she discovered he was the owner of the whole operation. Just some regular guy!

I will never, to the day I die, understand the framing that makes such stories (you hear them everywhere) surprising. But neither will my framing ever be relatable for those who tell such stories.

"So after going to the heroic work and aggravation of turning his operation into something noteworthy," I asked her, "you'd expect him to put in the extra work and aggravation to seem like someone who'd produced something noteworthy? To not only succeed, but also meet people's expectations of what success ought to look like? And it's strange if he doesn't?"

As I finished the question, she considered it for a moment. I watched her eyes search for a comprehension foothold, but nothing materialized. With a small subconscious shrug, she changed the subject.

People who accomplish stuff work really hard. They generally leave it all on the field, and it'd be downright strange if they took time/energy away from the doing to construct a shiny facade for themselves - to don a mask to impersonate the accomplished sort of person they actually already are. Am I the only person who finds that prospect completely Cocoa Puffs?

Shiny facade people - what I call "the David Copperfields" - are a whole other crowd. Real magicians don't usually have super white teeth and polished manners. That stuff's only for the fakes. As I once wrote,
If you've got the goods, you tend not to waste effort on the "seeming" end of it. Watch out for seemers.

I highly recommended a nearby restaurant to a bartender friend in a local craft beer bar. He grimaced. That joint's only for drunk teens. Awful!

I replied that I thought it was terrific.

He asked whether I'd grown up nearby, building up irrational affection.

I told him i'd only recently discovered it, and that I actually review food nationally and find it top-class - not that this makes me right and him wrong.

He stared vacantly through "review food nationally", like I'd lapsed into speaking in tongues or was making some strange arid joke. So I took a deep breath and ventured into my background.

"Wait, you built Chowhound? Seriously?"

"Somebody had to do it, no?"

"I had no idea!"

"How would you be less shocked? If I came in here with a couple ex-Seal security dudes? Maybe after landing on the roof in my private chopper? What, exactly, would I need to do to look more like someone like me?"

I watched his eyes search for a comprehension foothold, but nothing materialized. With a small subconscious shrug, he changed the subject.

Question: what happens when CBS finally mismanages Chowhound out of existence, and nobody's ever heard of it? Will Schrödinger's Cat finally die? Will my food opinions become worthless? Will I lock enduringly into the shmucky loser persona I appear to project due to my lack of pompous gravitas? Who, in the end, is this character I'm playing in this movie? I feel like I'm pretty good at the living part of this undertaking, but I'm the world's worst poser, and social rolesmanship appears to revolve entirely around posing!

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