Character Sketch

Once you get to know me you realize there just isn’t a lot there. It’s not that I’m shallow — it’s just that I’m a three trick pony. Hang around me for any length of time and you’ll get the idea. You’ll start to notice that you heard me tell this joke before, were struck by that witty comment sometime last month, saw the same nervous tick last week when I got upset about the state of baseball in America. And that’s when it hits you. I’m boring. Nice, but really boring. Oh, I don’t blame you. You think it’s bad for you, imagine being me. I’ve been living with myself for nearly thirty years now. It’s no walk in the park.

The strangest thing is, how you’ll come to be friends with me in the first place. You’ll think I am so clever and interesting. Because I can carry on a passable dinner conversation about Lear.

That’s amazing, you think. What a grasp of intricate conceptual twistings and turnings he has. Which is, of course, true. Because I’m not a phony. So we talk for a while and you find out I like jazz. And know how to tell my Bird from my Coltrane. Wow, what a connection; you’re starting to think this could turn into something; but, being the natural skeptic that you are, turn the conversation to a subject about which you are positive I’ll have nothing to say.

“As a matter of fact, I think that, sociologically speaking, the Samoan peoples are far more advanced than the ancient Polynesians,” I retort, as your jaw drops into your soup bowl.

So we exchange cards that night and I call you up for coffee in a few days. It’s subtle, but you feel slightly uncomfortable when you walk into the restaurant and see me sitting at the table wearing an almost exact replica of the outfit I wore to the dinner where we met. You decide to give me the benefit of the doubt and not assume that I only own clothes that are disturbingly similar.  Which I do.

The conversation goes way better than you had even imagined it would. Not only do I know jazz and Lear, but I can hold forth for a decent amount of time about the plight of Tibet and the benefits of having a Zen garden.

This will continue for about four weeks. Then the other shoe will drop. We’ll be at a party together and it will happen. You’ll introduce me to your friend the English professor (the local university chap who just finished a book on Lear). And I’ll start in. It’s beautiful, charming, well researched, perfectly rehearsed and exactly what I said on the night we first met. That’s when it will all come into focus and you’ll see exactly why you’ve been slightly irritated all the time for the past week and a half.  I’m a three trick pony.