Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Do I contradict myself?

I am a very subtle person.

(In lots of ways, I am not: I hug wildly; my ridiculous face shouts from miles away, betraying any emotion ever; heart is totally on my sleeve.  But for the purposes of this post, let's focus on the ways in which I am a subtle person.)

(Clearly, I contain multitudes.)

Anyway, I really appreciate subtlety.  I make really obscure jokes based on references to things no one else would possibly remember (especially sad when I'm talking to someone and refer to something that that very person said or did last week, and that person has no idea what I'm talking about, sigh).  I make connections between things that would never go together.  I am full of really strange metaphors that (I think) beautifully explain totally unrelated things (ask Justin about his favorite, comparing a job and boss I used to have to improvisationally playing the violin).  I like poetry and body language and license plates that need deciphering.  I love under-the-breath comments, my own or someone else's, and looking around to exchange glances with anyone else who may have caught it.  In general, I put a lot of stock into well-timed eye contact or knowing smile.  There's a quickness in subtlety, a level of being "smart" that I really appreciate, especially in other people.

Unfortunately, my aspirations of common subtlety (like common sense!) are unattainable.  Let's say a group of people have found something to joke about -- one person will always take it one step too far and ruin it.  So many times someone will just go to that overly-obvious level and make it all unfunny.  Also, I have never understood people who habitually, upon seeing x, ask if x is indeed happening.  Say you're reading a book.  "Oh!" says this woefully unsubtle person, earnest as ever.  "Are you reading a book?"  (Or its even less subtle cousin, the sincere "What are you doing?")  Using Bloom's taxonomy levels of higher-order thinking, this person is stuck on level, like, half.  Level 1, Knowledge, would even be better: "What book are you reading?"  But alas.  Often I'm so baffled and angered by this density that I scramble for a response.  Honest (Yes, I am reading a book!)?  Sarcastic (No.  Riding an elephant.  It's insane up here.)?  A simple raised eyebrow?  I am frequently at a loss.

These complaints apply not only to people but also to endless magazines and other articles purporting to give "ideas."  In my recent free issue of The Nest, there was a little section on fun ways to announce that you're pregnant.  One of them was to SEND AN EMAIL.  Another was to HAVE A PARTY.  Or the ubiquitous sidebars that explain how to save money; the first idea is always something like SAVE MONEY.  DO NOT GO TO STARBUCKS EVERY DAY.  Hmmmm!!!  I think we all hate being told (especially in an honest way) things we already know.  For further example, bank advertising.  Attention, bank marketers and advertising agencies everywhere: We now are pretty confident that the internet is open all the time.  There is no need to highlight that I can bank 24/7.  I can, in fact, do anything online 24/7.  You don't see me being like, LOOK YOU CAN NOW READ MY BLOG 24/7!  You don't see Gmail touting YOU CAN CHECK AND EVEN LABEL OR SEARCH YOUR EMAIL 24/7!!!!!!!  Calm down already, and get all classy about it.  Furthermore, if I couldn't bank online with you, if I couldn't set up automatic bill-pay, I wouldn't even consider you.  You would hardly be allowed to stay in business.  Don't pretend that that's your new "green" initiative that's going to save me hours of trouble and heartache.  It's kind of been the norm since, oh, 2000.  Maybe 2001.

In conclusion, subtlety is just classier, smarter, and sexier.  But of course, I hope this post wasn't too obvious.  What a hypocrite I'd be then!


Anonymous said...

First off: love the Whitman.

Second, I agree with your general premise. It makes me a little sad each time someone says to me in lieu of hello "How's it going?" and then doesn't stick around for the response.....


Anonymous said...

Another really good way to announce you're pregnant is to put it at the end of this post.

Unrelated: Sure you tried it, but you should call all of the people who gave to the auction last year, and look up businesses online who have given to other silent actions--not necessarily for similar causes.

-Laura B :)