Last week a man who has avoided being drafted into the military five times claimed that he would have run, unarmed, into a classroom where people were being murdered by a person armed with an assault rifle. Of course no one believes him. But he doesn’t care. Like he doesn’t care that the entire world pokes fun at his hairstyle. He doesn’t care that The Establishment are permanently frothing at the mouth that he is doing exactly what he said he would. He doesn’t care that a recording of him talking about grabbing women’s genitals was heard all over the entire world. He simply does not give a monkies. He thinks he’s brilliant and gorgeous and nothing, absolutely nothing, is going to change his mind. He’s right and anyone with a different opinion is just plain wrong. There seems to be a lot of people like this in the world – people loaded with self-confidence, the skin of a rhino, and not a lot of anything else. And then there’s the rest of us.
I must admit that I have a grudging respect for The Deluded Narcissists because it doesn’t seem to hold them back any – they think that they are both very good at their job and incredibly attractive. What a brilliant way to go through life. A friend was sat in a team meeting at work the other week. I say, sat because that was all they and their colleagues, bar one, did. The meeting was meant to be collaborative, hence the word ‘team’. As we all know, there is not meant to be any ‘i’ in team. However, the person who assumed the mantle of leading the meeting presumably got a different memo advising that they were the ‘I’ in team. They treated everyone else to an inspiring monologue about how attractive and talented the speaker was and how everyone should be more like them. I am given to understand that a bewildered audience sat and listened to this speech, steadfastly refusing to make eye contact with each other in order to not give the game away, not that the speaker would have noticed. Being British they didn’t want to call the person out and say “oh do shut up, you’re an insecure arse, none of us are interested and we’d like to do something useful” but I bet that’s what they were all thinking. So they sat politely until this person decided to stop speaking. I gather that it was some time. Maybe they just ran out of superlatives.
Another friend has a colleague who is hopeless. Lovely person. But genuinely hopeless at their role. It would seem that everyone except them knows it. Believing themselves to be the best thing since sliced bread, the colleague has been muttering loudly about wanting to “talk money” to the boss. Everyone else has been trying to think of ways to stop this excruciating conversation taking place to save their much-liked colleague from themselves. The colleague is adamant that the conversation must, indeed, needs to take place and cannot be dissuaded. Some people just can’t be helped.
All of us have been treated to the social media post. I don’t mean other people telling each other about their lives: children growing up, holidays, landmarks of life – none of those things. I mean two things specifically. First, the selfie and secondly, the nauseating boasting posting. As far as selfies are concerned, I am referring to the duck face selfie or the selfie of someone if not in a state of undress, then some article of clothing clinging on for grim death, the only purpose of which can be to show off how attractive they think they are to invite affirming comments. I read something yesterday about someone taking 200 selfies a day and the point, just in case we had missed it, was hammered home by an accompanying picture of the self-confessed narcissist pulling the duck face. Write the article by all means, but don’t post the photo – you’re feeding the beast. We look at those Victorian photos when everyone had a very serious expression and we know it was because photography was in its infancy and there was only one shot to take. But the duck face selfie? What are our grandchildren going to think of that? That everyone was poised to snog someone else at a moment’s notice? There was an unexplained penchant for sucking lemons? Or maybe everyone will be too busy admiring themselves to actually meet anyone to make babies with and there will be no grandchildren.
Moving on to the passive-aggressive boasting post. Usually, but not always, on a professional website, so to be viewed by people that the writer doesn’t know all that well and along the lines of: “Forgive the self-congratulatory post, but I am so thrilled to have been nominated as one of the people most likely to go to the opening of a crisp packet.” I am afraid that we won’t forgive you. Not unless you have come through the other side of a rough personal struggle, won an Olympic Medal, broken a world record, or done something significant to contribute to the peace, safety and security of our planet. Sir David Attenborough, Knight of the Realm and a man who has probably contributed more to our understanding of the natural world than anyone else in history of the world ever would never do such a thing. And if David’s not doing it, you definitely shouldn’t be. If you have to tell people that you are something, you aren’t. Tell us something useful or informative, or tell us nothing at all.
As for the being attractive thing, I truly believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Why do people insist on foisting their supposed attractiveness on everyone? These are usually the same people as those who like to tell you how wonderful they are at their job. A friend of mine goes weak at the knees if you mention a certain racing driver to her. I wouldn’t know who he was if I tripped over him. And he’s quite short, so I could easily trip over him. Similarly, mention the words ‘Kylie Minogue’ to the Man of the House and he will get a glazed and faraway look come over his face – he’s gone to a place that is very warm and friendly. I know someone who genuinely thinks that if a man smiles at them, they want to sleep with them. They also think that if someone asks them the time that it is actually a secret code they are asking them if they have time for sex, not any desire to know what the actual time is. I’d love to live in that world for a day, I really would. That must be a day when you get out of the shower and after blow-drying your orange bouffant into a comb-over-cum-quiff, you look in the mirror and instead of thinking “oh my, what the hell is that?” you nod approvingly and say to yourself, or even out loud “not bad, not bad. Still got it” and sashay out of the bathroom. Naked. Because why wouldn’t anyone want to look at you in the buff?
And then there’s the rest of us. Do you think that any of these people wake up in the night in a cold sweat? It is very much a thing in the legal profession to sit bolt upright in bed at four in the morning and think “oh Christ, did I remember to do that?” and either have to logon to double-check or stay awake worrying about it until you can get up to go into the office early to make sure. I still remember how it feels to have that rush of horror when you think you might have missed something on a file. I bet we’re not the only ones. Are these people racked with worry? After I went on a safeguarding course when I was a trustee of the Pre-School and was told the statistics of at-risk children I rushed back to the manager in a blind panic (because statistically speaking we had at-risk children) and said “what have we missed? Who have we missed?”I worried about it for all of the six years I was a trustee. Do those people do that? Something tells me they don’t.
If a man smiles at me, I assume that he’s either lost, has wind, or maybe he’s just trying to be pleasant and non-threatening. If I am asked what time it is I believe that the person asking just wants to know what time it is so they can continue to plan their day. Irresistible as I may be, don’t assume that they are trying to squeeze a shag with me into their hectic schedule.
So The Rest of Us, I have a proposal. There is not a cat in hell’s chance that we can beat people who are as mad as a box of frogs – the sky in their world must be either pink or mirrored. Even if they’re reading this they’re just thinking “Well I am brilliant and gorgeous, what’s your point?” So as we can’t beat them, we are going to join them. Every morning for a week, when you peer at yourself in the mirror, even if you don’t believe it and even though you’ll feel a complete fool doing it you are going to repeat, three times, after me: “Goodness me I’m brilliant and gorgeous.” No one has to hear you. You can say it under your breath, or in your head. But do it and see if it makes a difference in how you tackle the day ahead. If someone congratulates you, even if it is just for getting out of bed, invite people to forgive the self-congratulatory nature of your post, and then tell people how amazing you are for getting your pants on the right way round/turning your computer on/making a colleague a cup of tea. And finally, if someone says “good morning” do not assume that they are merely wishing you a good start to your day, they’re not. You’re hot. And everyone, simply everyone, is just desperately trying to find a way of letting you know it. But you already know it because for the next seven days you’re brilliant and gorgeous. Good luck.