"The Trouble with 'Me-isms'"
If you know someone for long enough, eventually you will be able to predict what they are going to do or say when a situation presents itself.
These mannerisms range from how they order their food to how they react when they see a small child in a Santa hat. I think you pretty much get the gist of what I'm saying: we are all creatures of habit, and our habits sometimes, whether we like it or not, end up defining us.
Our 'me-isms', if you will, are our daily M.O's or schticks that people think of when our name comes up in conversation. There are certain women that wear Louis Vutton but cuss like a sailor, just like there are certain people that you can't talk to without smelling the intoxicating mixture of Grand Marnier and Old Spice.
Some people talk with their hands, others can't drive without a cell phone attached to their ear, and some people talk with their hands while on a cell phone, and driving a vehicle.
And they say that there are no such things as hidden talents.
This column is full of 'me-isms' and I have been accused of spewing them into the public realm with little remorse and total disregard for the ever-popular 'public opinion.'
These people forget that it's an editorial and I can pretty much say what I want, but I get paid to make sure that I'm at least saying things that aren't libelous, are researched for facts, and are put together in a grammatically correct and hopefully enjoyable smorgasbord of written words.
I guess in the grand scheme of whatever this pithy little column exists in, the verbiage used is for me to get things off my chest so I'm not another walking time bomb that is grumbling under my breath every time someone doesn't wave when you let them merge into traffic. (This does enrage me for reasons unknown.)
So, I guess my therapist would tell me that some of my 'me-isms' are that I'm easily bothered, I think way too much for my own good, and that thinking ends up leading to dangerous dancing on my weekly soapbox.
If you think about it, however, many of our 'me-isms' are things that aren't necessarily ours. Certain facial expressions or hand gestures are either hereditary or were picked up from someone in our gene pool (family), and that oftentimes extends into religious beliefs, voting preference, and even which football team you support on Sundays.
Every once in awhile you catch yourself saying something, and you stop mid sentence and say 'I sound like my mother, (or father, Uncle Leroy, Will Farrell, etc.)
I think that most people become parents and vow to do things differently the way they were raised, at least in a few areas. At the very least, you don't want to sound lame and clichÃ©, as you probably remember thinking that your parents were at some point in your childhood.
Which leads me to my most recent 'you've gotta be kidding me' moment. I caught myself starting to say something while reprimanding my son about something that he had done wrong, and the conversation went something like this.
Me: 'Why did you do that, you know better?'
Him: 'My friends were doing it, too.'
Me: 'If your friends jumped off a bridge•€¦'
Suddenly, I stopped and wept for starting to say something that I vowed never to say.
My son was a bit taken aback and I fear that it will probably be a pivotal moment in therapy sometime down the road.
(Then I licked my thumb and wiped the chocolate off of his face, because I vowed I would never do that either, so I might as well get that out of the way, too.)
Anyway, the point is that no matter how hard we try to be original or unique, we are bombarded with outside influences that seep into our subconscious and shape what we are. My wife has always been amazed how I will consistently forget to get something at the store or neglect to check to make sure that the takeout order is correct, but I can pretty much remember 95% of the dialogue in the movie 'Fletch' or most other comedic films from that era.
So much of male humor is deep-fried in movie quotes, TV commercials, and song lyrics. It's what we do, we are simple, but in that sense, not necessarily original except for our choices in which movies to quote.
Women do the same thing, but with home dÃ©cor. Martha Stewart is a gazillionare because she tells women exactly how they should decorate their houses, and many of them listen. Just like every book that Oprah says is a good book becomes a best seller.
This is why the colors beige and off-white are colors of choice for 50-somethings.
If you start to ask people, (say your wife for instance), just how many 'me-isms' that you have, it will become apparent that you are filled with them, and many of them drive most people (meaning her) mildly insane. These are things that you are probably unaware of, because they are just things that you do without thinking. It's not just making sure that the remote is by your side, and constantly tuned to ESPN that is a problem with managing your 'me-isms.' It is the inability to see how much we are trying so hard to protect the integrity of our own little worlds by doing the same things over and over again subconsciously.
We can be running late, and I have to have the perfect song playing on the Ipod before the car moves. I realize that I'm more concerned with kicking the volume up to 11 than I am with remembering to put on my seat belt.
I'm sure that when I met my wife, she found my idiosyncratic madness to be harmless and quirky, but after years of me waking up to Sportscenter or British Futbol, hearing me point out the artist singing in the background of crowded restaurants, or just ranting about how Dave Eggers is a genius writer that deserves to be as widely praised as that Grisham fella that always writes about lawyers, she probably just wishes that I would shut up every now and then.
It's funny how no one ever tells you that you will end up on the brink of total madness by the very things that attract you to one another. It is also funny that no one tells you that you will turn into your parents when you become parents.
My wife says she never wants to get rid of me, but I know that deep down, she would really like a day or two off from many of my 'me-isms.'
I promised her that this Christmas, I would oblige, or at the very least get some new material.
I'm just waiting for the next 'Fletch' to come out.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.