I had dinner with some people from work this evening. One colleague who works at my firm, and three people from one of the industry rags. Actually, two people from the rag and one freelancer who used to work for the rag. She’s now working for a white label firm that does social media and publicity work for CitiGroup. Not a bad gig – I hope she’s getting paid what she’s worth (which is quite a bit).
That’s Anna. A little over a year ago, Joe (my co-worker) and I took Anna and Janine out to dinner – basically an elbow-rubbing thing: if we can help them out with some research, they quote us in their articles. Anna’s hit me up for that exchange a couple of times in the past year. Janine doesn’t work at the magazine anymore – she’s out in L.A. and planning to move back to NYC to study whatever it is one studies to become a museum curator.
I think Anna might have an eidetic memory – or at least partially so. Probably her journalism training. Either way, she impressed me over and over again with little things – she didn’t recite the Declaration of Independence or anything, but she knew lots and lots of buildings in the city and what was going on inside of them (e.g. shows playing, where businesses are/were, and other little things). She remembered exactly what I ordered for dinner – the names were in Italian, so I was barely able to get away with not pointing at the menu and grunting in the affirmative. On second thought, I’d say that Anna is extremely cultured and has an excellent memory.
The other chick at dinner’s name is Katie; she’s new to the magazine, a recent transplant from Portland OR. She’s youngish – maybe 25 or so – and pretty hot. Joe has been elbowing me for months (since he met her the first time), telling me that if I don’t make a move on her he’ll never speak to me again. I might. She’s not particularly my type, but I think I already mentioned that she’s pretty hot. We’ll see: I’ll keep you posted.
The fifth member of our party (though I’d say we all took turns being the proverbial fifth wheel*) was Brendan, the executive editor of the mag. As the night wore on, I was reminded more and more of Willie Cunningham. Now I wonder if anyone from my DC days reads this blog. Katie (my sister, who owns the awesomeness) is probably the only reader who will remember Willie.
Anyway, both Willie and Brendan have an ability to tell a story or relate an experience such that the listener feels as though they have (and probably will) never do/see/experience anything nearly as cool. I can’t really put my finger on how it’s done, nor do I really want to figure it out; I’m ok with just being able to spot it and call “bullshit” in my head. Or out loud, if the situation warrants (e.g. the speaker needs to be taken down a peg). It’s partly the use of strategic superlatives, combined with a certain stress on phrases, words or syllables. Often times, esoteric terms are glossed over (as though the speaker assumes the listener knows what s/he is talking about), and ordinary phrases are given extra emphasis. There’s also an aspect of making the listener feel like they’re part of an elite group (often one to which they did not even realize they belonged), just for being privileged enough to hear the anecdote.
Overall, I think it’s a very effective means of manipulating one’s listeners, but, in my opinion, this technique should be used sparingly. When it’s the speaker’s primary mode of relation, it wears out. I just don’t see how EVERYTHING can be THAT COOL ALL THE TIME. Good stories often include a little bit of bullshit (I try to avoid this, which makes most of my stories relatively mediocre), but bullshit should be used sparingly (again, in my opinion). When it’s spread about liberally, it loses its value and . . . er, flavour. For this listener, too much bullshit is, at the end of the day, an indication of low self-esteem. If one has to lie about simply everything, then, well, one can’t possibly be happy with oneself. A little bit of bullshit here and there can certainly add to a story, but if I hear too much of it, I pretty much disbelieve everything the speaker says after a certain point.
Willie is a pretty good bullshit artist; so is Brendan, for that matter. They’re probably two of the best I’ve ever met. But that really only works in small doses. After a while, though, I just can’t take anything they say seriously.
So that’s it for me right now. I’m losing my train of thought. I feel like the above bit regarding bullshit and its purveyors is unfinished, but whatever. I don’t dislike either guy, by way of disclaimer; nor am I attempting to smear either one.
I’m off to bed now. I have a handful of things to do at work tomorrow and then I’m leaving early to have lunch with my buddy Randy, whom I haven’t seen in a dog’s age. I think I’m going to try to grab a couple of the Adirondack high peaks this Saturday, so I’ll need to figure out my travel plans tomorrow. I don’t have camping shite yet, so it’s going to be tough squeezing ten hours of driving into a day that will also involve six or seven hours of hiking.
That’s it. Good talk. See you out there.
*The proper use of the colloquialism is ‘fifth wheel’ – emphatically NOT ‘third wheel’: tricycles have three wheels and they do just fine – they NEED three wheels. Nothing needs a fifth wheel. Fifth wheels are useless and redundant. If you’re one of those people who say ‘third wheel’ to refer to the extra person in the group, stop: only idiots say ‘third wheel’. Even if there are three people, the third person (assuming we’re not talking threesome, here) is still called the ‘fifth wheel’. As long as they’re redundant and unnecessary, that is.