notquiteold

Gracefully Aging – With Resistance

Conceit

This weekend I attended a party where I did not know anyone other than my husband and the hosts.

This is not my kind of party. I am self-conscious and uncharacteristically shy around strangers.  People have told me that my shyness often comes off as conceit.

It’s because…well …because… honestly…

Because I AM conceited.

And when I am uncomfortable, it seems to be the only attribute that willingly pops out.

But I didn’t have any reason to be nervous. Everyone was so nice and so interesting. And there were a lot of folks there who were ballroom dance aficionados, which means even more eccentric than me. So I fit right in.

One person in attendance especially fascinated me. She makes regular appearances on a local morning talk show. I guess you could call her a minor celebrity.  Except in her own mind. Where she appears to be a major celebrity.

I thought I was conceited. But she humbled me. I need a hell of a lot more practice in being self-important to even sit at the same table.

But I did sit at the same table. So I learned a lot.

I learned that you should mention your fame at least once every half-hour.  (I can translate this to at least one blog a week touting my novel.)

I learned that you should gush about the talents of your co-workers while at the same time making it clear how much you help them.

And I learned that you should make a wardrobe change midway through any event. When the sun goes down, why would you just add a sweater over what you are already wearing when you can instead put on an entirely new outfit, and get another round of compliments?

But the best thing I learned, I learned from my husband’s interaction with Celebrity-Lite.

He asked her where she lived, and she not only said the name of her affluent suburb, but then she added, “Have you heard of that town?”  (Because of course, even though Connecticut is a very small state, we might be morons.)

But instead of getting offended (which I did), my husband said, “Sure, I used to have a snow-plowing route there.”

And on the way home, I asked him why he mentioned the snow-plowing, when it was so long ago and doesn’t do him justice, given his long and successful business career.

And he said, “I like to play it low-key. If people are nice to me even if I am a nobody, then they are nice people.  And with someone like that, they are immediately uninterested in me and they go away. I can’t lose.”

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45 Comments

  1. Wow that’s a great system!

    • It’s terrific – but difficult for me to be so self-effacing.

  2. I LOVE what your husband said!!! HE is so right. I will have to try that. Maybe I can mention how I worked in the Kmart shoe department when I was in college…..

    • I made sandwiches for vending machines. I liked it.

  3. Wow. Don’t take this the wrong way. I love your husband. His outlook is excellent. I must remember to mention sometime that I used to wash toilets Too funny. :-D :-D :-D.

  4. Thank you for making my day with your posting. I want to read your novel.

    • Thank you! I’ll be bragging about it even more often very soon.

  5. People like that make me itch, which incidentally is another effective way to get rid of them.

    • Especially if your itch is in the general butt vicinity.

  6. Celebrity-lite! “Have you heard of ….” Just makes you want to choke them…but your husband’s mode of operation is probably better…and he probably gets invited back.
    Fun post

    • Yes. I get invited to lots of neat stuff because he’s so well-liked.

  7. Chris

    Kudos Tom!

  8. Very smart man, that husband of yours.

    • Sometimes. Other times, he forgets where he put his brain.

  9. Gotta love a very wise man…..

  10. You sound a lot like me, at parties. Although generally shy, my staff used to tell me that I had a “go to hell” look, which intimidated people. And, like your husband, I find humor in posing as a nobody while others sing their own praises. When they finally get around to asking about me, or my husband, their reactions are priceless.

    • I can’t seem to be as modest as my husband. When someone is putting me down, I feel compelled to toot my own horn. I try not to…. but I can’t seem to help myself. I just have to say, “Hey, I’m important here!”

  11. Laurie

    Oh, crap, Crap said what popped into my head. I love your husband. (And you.) I love his outlook. Something to keep in mind.

    • I really admired him at that moment. But I wanted him to SHOW her that he is successful too. How could he not care? I care way too much about what people think of me.

  12. Husband 1 – Minor Celebrity 0

    You win, no matter what.

    • I wish I could be so uncaring about what people think of me. I told my mother this story today and she felt the same way… “How could he pretend that he just plowed driveways for a living?”

  13. I would probably never have thought of that. I must admit that, faced with people like “Celebrity-lite”, my usual modus operandi is to pretend I’ve never heard of them (very often, I really haven’t).

    • To tell you the truth, I only had the vaguest idea of who she was.

      • And my husband had no idea at all.

  14. Loved your husband’s response to Ms. Celebrity-Lite.

    this line had me laughing out loud: (Because of course, even though Connecticut is a very small state, we might be morons.) – ha ha ha!

    Why am I picturing that woman having a voice like Thurston Howell the III? :)

    MJ

    • Pretty close. She had what I call the “At Smith” voice. I had a summer job where one of the other summer employees went to Smith College (as opposed to my UConn). Every sentence that came out of her mouth started with “At Smith….” Like 50 times a day.

      • ha ha ha! I lived in Greenwich for a while – I get it :) MJ

  15. “Celebrity-Lite” … yet another one I will be “borrowing” from you from time to time. You have no idea how many of those I know.
    Of all the things you have ever told us about your husband this has got to be my favourite. Never has anyone said anything smarter than that.

  16. Wow! How is it that people actually think they are impressing others boasting about who they are or what they have? Nothing turns me off of a person quicker than when they feel the need to share how incredibly successful they are.

    Love your husband’s response.

    • He told me later that he thought she was so obnoxious because she was jealous of me. That really earned him some bonus points in my book!

  17. Nice one from your husband. In my working life, I met a lot of different kinds of people. Some were simply not nice to know, dripped diamonds, furs and stank of Chanel, whilst others were interesting to talk to.

    • I have also met a lot of very gracious successful people. Just not this one.

      • Me too. One was at a dinner party held by a guy I met who was in television PR (I almost became his housekeeper) and this week we met a very interesting couple, she being a successful painter and he being one of the top guys in flying model aircraft. Neither are our normal circles and it was a chance meeting, but we had an excellent evening.

  18. Your husband is a genius.

  19. Brilliant strategy!

    • When we bought our first house, it was a fixer-upper and he shopped for materials in our neighbors totally beat-up station wagon. He thought he got much better deals.

  20. Chris

    Or you could also say “I don’t really watch much television”

    • He didn’t have a clue who she was, and she knew it.

  21. You will take a huge leap forward when you can feel so good about yourself that you don’t need to toot your own horn; you really won’t care what people think about you. For the most part, i think I do a fairly good job of this but I suppose everyone wants to be recognized, at least a little.

  22. It’s always an education when one is humbled in being conceited.

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