Monday, April 28, 2008

Stuff Pretentious People Like: Heated Discussions about Non-Controversial Subjects

Pretentious people have the best time when they are talking about stuff. Not only do they love the sounds of their own voices (individually, of course), but they love the feeling they get when other people think they are really knowledgeable about something. And many of them have discovered one of the best-kept secrets out there -- if you talk really loudly and sound really passionate about what you are saying, the subject matter becomes unimportant. What comes through is that you have given the subject a lot of thought and have decided it is important ... and thus, it becomes important.

The following is just a sampling of some stuff (a little crap potpourri, so to speak) and some of the reasons why they enjoy talking about it so much.

Collecting Stuff


While most pretentious people collect a pretty small range of things -- such as records, broken musical instruments they can't play and comic books -- what they collect is not as important as how they talk about it. If your passion is Hummel figures, talk about it a lot whenever you are in social situations including exciting details -- the outfit each and every one of your 1,000 Hummel figurines is wearing, where you got each figurine, how your mom started you collecting them, and now she's dead so you have to do it to properly honor her memory, the history of Hummel figurines, etc. The more details, the better. And the more people that don't know what you are talking about, the better because that means you don't even have to know for sure that the details you are providing about whatever it is you are collecting (especially their history, etc.) is actually accurate.

Tip: Make sure before you start to talk about your impressive collection, whatever it is, that you are not in the presence of other people that know anything about the particular thing you collect. A general question like, "Have you ever heard of Hummel figurines?" or "Anyone know anything about Hummel figurines?" will suffice.

Cats (and why they are better than dogs)


This subject never disappoints and can really go on for hours. Pretentious people love to talk about their love affair with cats and how quirky, smart, elegant and wonderful they are and how dumb, needy and "too accessible" dogs are in comparison. Because cats force you to earn their love by being high-maintenance and doing things as they please, when you manage to get them to love you, it's an actual accomplishment, as opposed to dogs who will just blindly like anyone without prejudice (because how much fun is it to spend your life trying to please something, essentially interrupting your life constantly to do whatever it wants just to pay it off in favors so it will continue to like you?). They also love to say repeatedly that cats are so much more rewarding to have than dogs. The argument that they will keep throwing in your face is that cats are much easier to take care of and also more independent than dogs (because they are smart enough to do their business in a litterbox), thus much less of a hassle. This discussion will inevitably lead to references to that cat on YouTube that was taught to use and flush the toilet. When you get home that night from your social engagement, an email from the pretentious person will be waiting in your inbox with a link to this video, so the conversation continues even beyond the life of the actual physical interaction.

Famous Friends No One Has Ever Heard of


Pretentious Person: "You know Gary, right?"

You: "No ... Gary who?"

Pretentious Person: "You know, Gary ... from that band ..."

You: "What's his last name?"

Pretentious Person: "Gary 'Very Scary' ... you know ... he was in the Nantucket Fuckers, The Butt Planets, Uncle Earl's Testicle, Screaming Demons, Fuel Cousin ..."

You can see that just this conversation has already eaten up about 30 seconds of time that you will never get back. And you've not actually received any information that tells you anything ... about anything. Typically the "famous people" that pretentious people talk about do not actually have last names (or at least the pretentious people don't know them, rather only the nickname they went by in their bands (because that's what all their real friends call them), none of which have been actually active since at least 1987, if not before). Still, the person will have a handful of "hanging out" or "funny, personal comment" stories about said famous person that you still have never heard of, typically taking place at a show for another band you've never heard of. The need to explain the famous person's context for the ensuing story to make any sense whatsoever will be so great that the pretentious person will have many minutes of guaranteed, uninterrupted talking time without being actually obligated to say anything of real significance. By the time the person explains who the person is (which still will be mostly a mystery) to the best of his/her ability , you will be so discombobulated that the relevance of the story to what you were talking about (which you've now forgotten) in the first place is totally unnecessary.

Every pretentious person has at least four of these supposedly famous friends and is typically constantly adding to that roster as the relationships with these famous people (aka, the stalkings of these famous people) progress.

The Past Accomplishments of Threatening People in the Room


Sometimes in order to continue to be liked (or at the very least tolerated), pretentious people have to call attention to the accomplishments of others and acknowledge that other people besides them have done stuff in their lives. By calling attention to the accomplishments of others, they look kind, giving, selfless and generous and thus earn more time to talk about themselves later. Pretentious people like best to point out the accomplishments of the people in the room by which they feel most threatened. A tangent goal of pointing out another person's accomplishments is embarrassing the person to the point that he/she will feel uncomfortable, embarrassed and like being quiet, thus giving the pretentious person more space to talk. The more over-the-top and passionate the person is about the praise, the more chance there is that the person being complimented will appear to be full of him/herself and will be compelled to down-play the accomplishment, thus seeming to be ingenuine. Regardless, conversations praising other people are excellent opportunities to bring the competition down a notch without being openly insulting.

Just don't expect to get complimented for that Ph.D you just got in astro-physics or the marathon you won two weeks ago. The pretentious person will inevitably choose to point out your most mediocre achievements from many, many years ago, such as that writing contest you won in third grade, that time you won the 100 breaststroke at a local meet in 1978 or that time you sold the most boxes of Girl Scout cookies in the Tri-State area. This way, it will be implied that your minor achievement 20 years ago is really the last and also the greatest thing you've accomplished in your life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

please! more entries. my friend and i love this blog.