I am an asshole. Sure, there are lots of them around and many are more so than me, but I’m one just the same. I’ve tried hard to identify those things that put me in this oh-so-common category of older folks.
Assholes generally come in two basic age groups; teenagers who don’t know anything and don’t know they don’t know and geezers that are anxious to tell everyone they meet what they know for damn sure. I’ve recently joined the latter group and I want out.
Earlier in our lives our relative status was obvious by where we went to school, what we did for a living, how much money we made, where we lived, what we wore, and on and on. In retirement those clues aren’t immediately evident so we must establish our importance by constructing elaborate verbal resumes, creating anecdotes for every conversation and go through the rest of our lives playing “I can top that” with everyone we meet. It’s the geezer version of “mine’s-bigger-than-yours” played out verbally.
Booze amplifies the size of your asshole status to mega proportions. I’m a minor league asshole sober, but I’m just a couple of drinks away from becoming the flaming variety. All of the things I dislike about myself go off the charts with a bit of booze. Many Sunday mornings my wife’s first words to me are, “You asshole, you know what you did last night.”
How do I fix this? I don’t like the person I now think I’ve become. Maybe I’ve been one all along and my recent elbow bending with other geezers has really brought this asshole image home. What I see when I look in the mirror is:
I am a drunk … Yeah, a lot of people drink more than I do but that doesn’t change the fact that I drink far too much. If I’m serious about being less of an asshole I have to cut back on the booze.
I try too hard to make a good impression … I don’t really converse with people; I mostly preach, teach or brag. I constantly play one-ups-man-ship by interrupting others to interject my superior knowledge and richer sets of experiences into our conversations.
I converse in I, I, me, me centric conversations … Have you noticed that most people can’t really converse unless they are talking about themselves. If you change the subject to something like the weather and say, “nice weather we’re having”, they respond with something like, “I enjoy this weather; it reminds me of when I growing up in Kansas.” There, they got in two I’s and one me in response to your little comment. Well, I’m one of these assholes and I don’t like it.
I try to be funny … I almost always use humor, sometimes inappropriate risqué humor, as a conversational ice breaker or as a way of getting the spotlight aimed at me.
Things piss me off … not people, things. The pickle jar I can’t open, the cable that won’t attach to the TV, the price tag that won’t come off of my new purchase, the packaged goods that are open-proof and hundreds of other things that don’t work, break, won’t fit together or are just poorly designed.
I judge at a glance … My first impression of people is always negative. I judge all those I haven’t gotten to know by some internal yardstick. “That blouse doesn’t go with that skirt … what was he thinking when he got that haircut … I can’t believe she’d wear that bra with that blouse … have you ever seen uglier shoes … etc.”
I’ll bet if I met a bombshell like Angelina Jolie I’d immediately tag her as an air-head with ugly tattoos and a dead fish demeanor. Yet, I’ve learned that in most cases I like everybody I take the time to get to know. What’s wrong with my first impression thought process? I’ve got to get over this.
Wow, that’s quite a list. Maybe, even more than I can even dream of overcoming. Let’s see, we’ve got booze reduction, anger management, knocking off that snobby judgmental thing, and learning to converse without all of the baggage I discussed above.
I was taught that the best way to make a good first impression to strangers is to be interested not interesting. This “be interested and not interesting” concept might be the fix for all of my asshole conversational faults. It just might be another way of saying what we all know and don’t practice, listening.
If I just cut back on the booze, learn to deal with all of the little, imperfect things in life, take people as they really are and try my damnedest to be interested not interesting I can lick this.
See, this is going to be a snap.
©2007 by Bob Rockwell