Wednesday, 13 November 2013
It's hard to resist those familiar gambits that supposedly give us a little extra je-ne-sais-quoi but in practice make us look like pretentious, insecure gits. You think you're going down a treat when in reality everyone's wincing at your desperate attention-seeking. But it's so tempting, isn't it?
How about a bit of name-dropping? That famous actor you met last week. That bestselling author who sent you a letter. That prominent politician you had a go at.
Or maybe some place-dropping? You're just back from San Francisco. Which wasn't as cool as Chicago. And not nearly as glamorous as Sydney. And did I tell you about Los Angeles?
Or some obscure literary references? A pithy quote from Jane Austen. Or J D Salinger. Or Mary Wollstonecraft. Or The Diary Of A Nobody.
Or your visit to the trendiest restaurant in town? How you managed to get a table at Chez Rousseau when all your friends were told there was a six-month waiting list? And the champagne was on the house?
Well, no, actually I don't do any of that, though I'm probably pretentious in less obvious ways. I want to have the driest witticisms, the most original arguments, the slickest turn of phrase, the sharpest put-downs. Just saying what I think isn't enough, there has to be something more, something unexpected. I'm not just Mr Ordinary, Mr Average, I'm Mr How-about-that?
Come on, admit it, we're all trying to make an impression, aren't we? None of us wants to be bland and unforgettable, none of us wants to be an also-ran. We all want to make a mark of some kind, we all have ways of putting icing on the cake.