I came of age during the late 90s grunge period. Flannel for the non-Seattle weather I was not experiencing in Miami and carb loading vegetarianism are my fondest memories. Rock stars were activists and monogamous. Teenage angst took on poetic proportions. I would hear trite lines like drugs are bad because plant life should not trump human life (by Eric Erlandson pictured with moi at the right). Having fun as the world crumbled was selfish, evil almost. Any time you felt happy, you just had to think of starving children in Africa or the AIDS epidemic for it to pass. It was not the jolliest of times, but now the pendulum swings in the opposite direction. Now everyone attempts to live his or her lives for entertaining you.
There are those among us that live as if they could be contenders for the latest reality show. I understand the appeal of being unlucky in love or being put in zany situations as others look to you to be their manic pixie dream girl. The trouble is no human is as complicated or funny as they would like to believe. I have sat at dinner parties or just walked down the street overhearing rambling stories in which the speaker swears what went down was “hysterical”. Their listeners summoning a tight smile silently regretting the one time they mentioned (probably in passing) this person had said or did something funny. These people come across as bit players on Saturday Night Live looking for that break through moment when they will click with the live audience at home. Instead, it is so desperate it almost chafes your brain. Then there are people who are so clueless about being boring that they tell the same story again with emphasis and tap you at the important points as if you just didn’t interpret correctly. I used to just smile politely, now I either move or step back until the person gets the hint. I want to tell them that I am not that interested, but that would be almost un-American to confess someone is boring you. When did their life turn into a series of misadventures to entertain others and not their own creation?
The sad thing is most of these over talkers are women that I know. I have a Facebook friend that recently christened herself Witty McGee. When she initially sent the friend request, I was bewildered. She had never struck me as anything other than a quiet girl who laughed at other people’s jokes. Now she is making her statuses about all the comical things she does throughout the day. One was how she left her phone in a restaurant and then had a madcap time getting it back. The delivery was the equivalent of violent constipation. Comedy is not natural for her. If you are in a moral dilemma, she is the voice of reason. This amazing logical quality of hers is why we are friends. It sets her apart and makes her reliable. These misguided attempts at being humorous are just not in her genetics.
We all gravitate away from the simple to add to our complexity, but it is fruitless. The external will not validate us somehow and give us the qualities we always wanted. I have been to enough of my acquaintances’ amateur comedy hours to know that being funny is an accident or a coping skill generated as a child to ward off bullies. To try to acquire it as an adult is not feasible; it comes across as unnatural and tense. I know humans just want to be liked and accepted. However, life is not an endless cocktail party. Say something of substance and be natural. This frantic pushing dilutes our worth.