Wednesday, June 29, 2011

brother gets mad at me for talking during commercials.

My father is in the television advertising business. This means I have grown up understanding things like Nielsen ratings and target audiences. I saw Michael's role with Hanes to be just as relevant as his place on the Bulls. It means I've gotten to reap benefits of free tickets and promotional stuffed animal Pillsbury doughboys and bobble head Lucky the Leprechauns. It even means I've gotten to be in a handful of local commercials myself. Unfortunately though, because of this, I can no longer enjoy television.

Since age 4, watching TV with my family means analyzing the balls off of every piece of sponsorship, product placement, and 30-second-spot on this Green earth. Since preschool, I could vomit out slogans and jingles on cue, and car trips involved games like making up cheesy jingles for local billboards we'd pass on the interstate. Someone tell me this is all normal.
Every morning I'd decide if I wanted Reese's for breakfast or one of Champions and my parents would drink their coffee that was good til the last drop. I remember At school, conversations were often initiated with something about "did you see the commercial where...?" and they'd go nowhere because (unless it was the morning after the Super Bowl) nobody else cared to the least about what was advertised. While some kids were busy answering questions that didn't matter like when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, I was pondering over how many licks it took to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop and What I would do for a Klondike Bar. Hell, I could keep going and going and going...

In my family of four, I am in the 3rd place spot for best remote user (though subject to change as my mother, 4th place, slowly but surely begins to understand the DVR), and I'm in first place for most talkative during a program. This latter ranking was not my fault, but my brother's.

In addition to the above two bullshit rankings, my brother has given me the superlative of "worst question answerer in the world."
I might have to plead guilty on that one. Look, I'm not the kind of person to beat around the bush in conversation. So to save time, I'll sometimes imply the true question one was intending to ask me and answer that, leaving the question-asker 1. confused and 2. not even receiving the information that they initially wanted. Here's an example: Last weekend, my parents went camping (sidenote: when you're going in an RV, and you have running water and electricity and mirrors and beds and a refrigerator, it really isn't camping anymore.) My brother was going to meet them at the campground later that night and texted me while I was at work when I'd be coming home. What I assumed is that he was wondering if I was also interested in meeting our parents at the campsite, so I replied that I was not going camping. In reality he just wanted to know when I was getting home.

My brother has an entire catalogue of examples similar to this one, and he seems to believe I should be getting 25 to life for them too.

So I've got this going against me. Tack on the fact that I'm too talkative to watch TV, I'm nearly blind and deaf and can't read any of the guide information, and that my remote control skills are wishy-washy if existent at all, and you've got yourself one hell of a person to watch TV with.

So after a long day at the office (aka my summer nannying job), I come home exhausted and hungry, and I begin to ask my brother a question. Actually, the question I was attempting to ask was inquiring what it was that he was watching. Apparently though, he was on his third attempt at rewinding a commercial to show my mom, and as if that's not weird in itself -the whole Mom!Get dooooowwn here!you've gotta see this commercial!thing- the next five minutes get even more irrational, from both parties. I get yelled at for talking while he's watching something, and out come the torches and pitchforks.

Tell me I'm not in the wrong for getting upset after a long day of work and wanting to ask my brother a question only to be punched in the stomach for it. Of course, I may have had a few too many words for him.

The funny thing is that arguing in my family is rare, and when it does happen it becomes a big joke (just like everything else). So after our thirty seconds of shouting at each other we realized how ridiculous we were being and just started laughing and making fun of ourselves.

I guess either I need to work on my question-answering skills and just learn to answer a question as it's asked, or I need to work on my future-telling skills because most of the time I'm wrong with my attempts at being helpful. I guess I just have a gift at talking and answering questions at the most inconvenient times. Maybe I'm born with it, maybe it's Maybelline.

*meanness of brother subject to overdramatization.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

people observation #18: too cocky for his caliber.

First I'm going to clarify that being cocky is never cool. I don't care if you just graduated from the first grade. I don't care if you just graduated first in your class at Harvard law after winning the Nobel Prize for your finding a solution to world hunger all while (very much so) enjoying your first season with the Boston Bruins. It is never justified. It's just annoying.

That being said, I'm going to begin with a little background.

I come from a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. It is a great place to grow up: very safe, education is important, we're healthy, we're cute, it's the midwest.

I had an awesome childhood where our parents would let us maniacally jaunt the neighborhood all day. The scariest person we would ever come in contact with was the ice cream man, and he was giving us ice cream for gods sake (he'd yell at you if you didn't put your buck-fifty into his scraped-up knuckley hands).

Somewhere around middle school though, the words of our first grade guidance counselor begin to snowball in our minds.

"You are special. You are unique. You are special. special special SPECIAL!"

and just like that my hometown became a breeding ground for all things douche.

I have no animosity towards the methodology of the parents and teachers in my hometown; most of us go to college, most of us don't end up working a corner. That being said there is a trend among my classmates that I've never neglected to notice, a sort of cocky way of carrying oneself like he or she is the most beautiful, brilliant, and brawny thing on the planet- but here's the catch- he or she is not.

And that's where my observation comes into play, too cocky for his caliber.

The irony is that I believe cockiness comes from insecurity. Whether it is the understanding of our own mediocrity, the fear that other people will realize our humanity, or a combination of the two, I find the tooting of one's horn to be an echo of such emotion.


The "I'm going to intimidate this person with my puffed out chest before they can intimidate me" philosophy.

The only thing I have to say about this is that it's stupid. There is no other word to describe it. It is stupid.

Nothing is accomplished, nothing is better in this world because of one's cockiness.

And I'm not saying don't hold your head high. Because confidence can and will be the difference between your success and failure. But do it in humility. And be willing to listen to others. Because everyone is smarter than you or better at you or more experienced than you in

And I'm not saying don't be proud of your accomplishments, it's okay to take a step back when you're finished with a project and just admire your hard work. But again, do it in humility.

So I came to college from a town where people seemed to be put into the arrogance machine and popping out at record speeds. But then I realized that every town seemed to have an arrogance machine. And there were citizens of the too-cocky-for-his-caliber nation everywhere. And I realize there always will be.

So what am I to do?

Sure, I can take advice of my first grade guidance counselor's purple puppet and don't forget that I'm special. (Finding your unique qualities is what is going to make you stand out in whatever competitive field you're working with.)

But I can also not let myself be intimidated or felt small by another's presumptuousness. They are too cocky for their caliber. They are the manager at a business in Columbus, Ohio.
They were the captain of the Division 3 high school baseball team. They got an A once. I'm over it. The cocky individual hasn't anything to even back up his or her self-love, yet he or she wants everyone to kiss their ass. And I'm not puckering.