I wear spectacles, and have done since the age of 6 – originally the free ones with the plastic brown frames. I dress respectably /conservatively, and I am generally rather polite when speaking. Basically I have never been a ‘cool’ person.
Now this is not a complaint – it is a mere statement of fact. Since my teenage years there have been classmates or friends or colleagues who have slotted into the ‘cool’ category through the circumstance of good looks, quirky fashion sense, artistic taste in music or films. Although being honest it’s usually related to good looks. As a teenager we had a name for those cool kids – we called them ‘The Kiss Gang’ because they certainly weren’t horny, spotted, dateless adolescents. Of course they were probably as insecure and paranoid as the rest of us, but through our eyes they were the golden ones – blessed with looks and fashion and popularity.
Naturally this is a phenomenon that has continued into later life – certain people have ease of access to opportunity and success. There is no point being upset or jealous of this. Darwinian theory explains it in a way – survival of the fittest.
So my query is not about the beautiful ones. My question is more about the assumptions made about the ordinary ones?
Over the years I have noticed this on occasion. I will meet someone and it’s only after a few meetings that I will have them look at me quizzically and say ‘Oh you’re quite funny / interesting / whatever, when I met you first I thought you were boring / square / mean’ (I do suffer from resting bitch face syndrome so this last one is understandable). I find myself thinking ‘Well OK how am I supposed to react to that, is it a compliment or an insult.’
While I understand that people necessarily have to make assumptions about those that they meet, and I also understand that I am generally fairly quiet when you first meet me, it’s started to irk me a little.
Last week I was at the doctor – diabetes related, nothing worrisome, more a reintegration into the Irish medical system and he was asking me the usual questions. He asked me if I smoked and I proudly replied ‘former smoker’. He asked me if I used illegal drugs. I replied honestly and said ‘No’. He then started chuckling and said ‘I didn’t think so.’ I was slightly peeved. ‘Why wouldn’t I be a massive consumer of illegal substances? How very dare he? I lived in Amsterdam for 15 years you know.’
Then last week I was waiting at the bus stop to go home and the 2 student interns were waiting there as well. We were all chatting. One of them made a joke to the other one ‘He lived in Amsterdam and took loads of drugs there.’ They both creased up laughing at the utter preposterousness of that idea. It wasn’t meant in a malicious way and I didn’t take it as such. I guess this is my reality. Regardless of what I have and have not done in life (and the years in the Dam did involve some shenanigans, shall we say) I guess I must accept that I am one of the respectable looking ones.
And I guess I am happy enough with that. Still waters run deep and all.
Does it mean that I can get away with stuff more easily I wonder?
1 thought on “A life less nerdish”
I dunno Simon, I don’t think you look so straight laced and buttoned up. I mean, maybe the doctor was just smirking at the obviousness of the answer. Like, how often do people give him the other answer? Maybe about as often as people say “hell yes” to the question on the US visa form asking whether they’ve ever committed any war crimes. And maybe the student interns dissolved into nervous laughter when you say the word “Amsterdam” because that’s what happens with student interns . (Trust me, the word “Amsterdam” has a potent effect on student interns.)
In short I don’t think you look like someone incapable of consuming massive quantities of illegal substances. And I mean that as a compliment.
Anyway, strangely enough, I was just reading this from the Onion and it chimes with your post: “You Might Be Surprised, But Your Unhip Ol’ Pops Actually Used To Be Quite The Meth Head”:
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