This is the seventh installment of my Icebreaker series. I think it is time for an apology. Let’s continue.
Which group did you fall into in high school?
I wasn’t a jock. I wasn’t a brainiac. I was a band geek, but I went to a school where this fact didn’t relegate a person to the bottom of the social ladder. Most (but not all) of my clique were in band, but the thing that defined my crowd wasn’t music, it was wit (and unfortunately, it wasn’t always kind).
Wit is not the same as a sense of humor. Everyone has a sense of humor. It can be crude or refined, but it is an aspect of humanity that makes us human. Wit is not as innocent as the ability to laugh. It is the natural ability to understand things, and witty people can turn this to their advantage, even at the expense of others.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t the nicest guy in high school. I often relied on my wit to tear others down in order to feel good about myself. I didn’t do it so loud that other people knew, but I was incredibly prideful. And if I were to be honest about my group of friends, I’d say that we all shared that trait to some degree (though I pridefully consider myself to have been the guiltiest of us).
It wasn’t until some time in college that my pride took a nosedive. I came face-to-face with the best that I had to offer and realized that it was nothing to be proud of. Looking back, I’m still surprised that I was as prideful of a band geek as I was. What was I thinking?
So, now you that I’m a recovering jerk, a guy who used to think that he was better than his peers, and someone who still struggles with that from time to time. Maybe this is why I’ve always resonated with the line from The Royal Tenenbaums where Royal comes to terms with how his arrogance has affected his family and he tries to make amends with his ex-wife’s suitor. I’ve removed some of the cussing so as not to offend the faint of heart.
Can I say something to you, Henry?
Henry looks to Royal.
I’ve been considered an a-hole for about as long as I can remember. That’s just my style. But I’d feel pretty blue if I didn’t think you were going to forgive me.
Henry nods. He says gently:
I don’t think you’re an a-hole, Royal. You’re just a kind of an SOB.
Royal seems genuinely moved by this remark.
Well, I appreciate that.
And I’d appreciate it too if you could forgive me.