Saturday, September 5, 2015
I personally LOVE pretentious people.
To answer that question, I must first explain WHY they are generally such detestable people.
An explanation that is, in fact, pretty straightforward: Pretentious people abuse society's unwritten policy of general politeness - they insult your intelligence, unswervingly degrade you, and escape from the situation without any comeuppance because people are constricted by the unspoken social contract whose one rule must never be broken – be nice!
A pretentious person is one who uses their words with efficacy and genius in the achievement of one, singularly depraved goal – to demonstrate their superiority over the party with whom they interact.
I say again – I love pretentious people.
Which brings us back to the previous question: WHY!?!?!?!
Yes, these people have a tendency to be unbearably annoying, but that's only because you haven't really interacted with them in the right way.
Think about it!
Their very posturing is often predicated upon farce, and this can be used to hilarious effect – should you be willing to surprise them by breaking the one rule society has as regards being unwaveringly polite.
For instance, I recently decided to visit a local restaurant – widely recognized as the undisputed territory of the pretentious – that had advertised that they had a new chef and new menu.
Despite these recent changes in staff and operations, apart from a few beleaguered patrons, the place was deserted – save for one flawlessly dressed hipster with tight trousers and a neatly trimmed chinstrap beard. His greasy hair was slicked back and tied into a tight, yet short ponytail, and his shirt appeared to be too small for his slight frame, the fabric straining at the ivory buttons.
As this man swaggered toward me, he managed to exude a palpable bravado which oozed a mixture of confidence and condescension. I was acutely aware that his eyes had turned me over with the efficacy of a looter at an electronics store, and he was confident that he had successfully taken the measure of me.
He eventually reached me and, standing next to the maître d's podium amidst a vast sea of long abandoned and neglected tables, drawled out, in an insufferably arrogant tone devoid of any hint of self-consciousness or embarrassment, the following words:
“And have we booked a table this evening?”
His tone made it evident that should I fail to answer his query in the affirmative, I would indeed be taking a grave risk and might not be able to enjoy, with the other guests, their evident misery.
So there we were.
An unbelievably pretentious man, asking me an unbelievably pretentious question in an unbelievably pretentious tone, confident that no rebuke could possibly be forthcoming. He was safely shielded by society's unspoken, unwritten social contract.
His question was so patently ridiculous that this was clearly pretension as an art form.
I had little invested in this encounter – there was a perfectly wonderful place down the road whose food was unparalleled and whose door was always open to me – and so my response went something like this:
“Have I booked? No, I regret to say that I did not take that precaution. I have evidently been swindled by observation and logic, whose application on my part led to an assumption I made concerning all these empty tables. The fault is entirely mine. Nevertheless, I would be deeply indebted to you if you could find somewhere for me to enjoy a small repast – I know it is an inconvenience to squeeze me in, but it would be much appreciated. I shall greatly relish watching your fine establishment fill to the brim over the next hour or two as the vast horde of people who did have the foresight to make a reservation – making them undoubtedly cleverer than myself - begin to flood into the place. I only worry that when all is said and done, we'll have enough room for everyone. In fact, I feel guilty now – clearly my presence here would stretch capacity beyond breaking point and deprive those who did have enough sense to book their tables of the space that they will clearly require. On second thought, I'll save you the trouble and just go.”
One look at the man told me all. His bluster was gone, his social contract – unwritten, unspoken and therefore unenforceable – was not worth the paper it was written upon. He was frozen in a mixture of disbelief and dismay.
“Get the door for me, would you?” I asked, and, as the man scrambled to open the door for me, I made an exit that was decidedly more satisfying than any meal that would have crossed my table.
I had a similar experience at a restaurant – I told you, that's where all these people work – wherein I was delivered a pat of butter with a hair on it.
Unsatisfied by this unexpectedly spouting blob, I called our waiter over, pointing out the hair.
He examined the butter with an unimpressed eye, and then, rather unexpectedly, took its side and argued its cause with the dedication of a lawyer whose own brother was appealing his conviction on death row.
“It is,” he deigned to inform me in a drawling tone, “not a hair – it is a fibre.”
I glanced down at the tray of butter in his outstretched hand, and than back at his face. He was in earnest. He did not see that my objection was not related to the nature of the foreign object in my food, but rather its presence entirely.
Again, this was pretension practised solely for its own sake.
“Ah!” I exclaimed. “Well, that's a different matter entirely.”
He nodded and began to lower the plate back down to the table.
“Asbestos, is it?” I asked airily.
He froze and looked perplexed.
“I don't understand,” he said.
“Yes, I can see that,” I replied. “What brand of fibre am I being treated to this evening? That's my question. You see, some are quite tasty – no examples readily spring to mind at the moment, though undoubtedly that's a failing on my part – but some are less desirable. You clearly serve only the freshest, locally sourced ingredients at this venerable establishment – could you go and inquire of the chef the provenance of this delightfully unexpected surprise in my butter? You see, now that I know it isn't a hair, I'm wondering if I'll be able to afford a luxury such as butter with fibres in. I'm on something of a fixed income at the moment, and I'm unaccustomed to this sort of extravagance. On second thought, gracious though it was of you to offer me such an unexpected treat, I might just prefer plain old, regular, pure butter instead. Please don't think me ungrateful – I'm just not used to eating things that aren't food. And look on the bright side: I know that sometimes when dishes get sent back, they let staff enjoy it so that it doesn't go to waste... I'm sure you'd enjoy eating this instead.”
And now you know why I love pretentious people.
They are society's comedy wing men.
Adept at keeping an intensely straight face whilst simultaneously creating bizarrely ridiculous circumstances that mock reality, they set you up for a personal situational sketch.
They are the playfully uncomprehending straight man who sets up the hero of the double act, and together, the pair of you can romp home to uproarious laughter.
And so, when you meet one of life's absurdly caricature buffoons, enjoy them. After all, that's what they are there for.