We’re all narcissists.
Not clinically speaking, of course.Thank goodness narcissistic personality disorder is rare, since those diagnosed with the condition are incapable of empathizing with others and combine a paper-thin level of self-esteem topped with a crispy crust of egomania. Mama would have said narcissists are full of themselves. (Thanks to mayoclinic.org for the article. And thanks to whomever invented the internet.)
But I think it’s human nature to compare everyone’s situation to one’s own. Mr. Pettit and I call the game “That Ain’t Nothin’”. Tune in and you’ll see it being played all around you.
Last week a friend who’s had a couple of surgeries on her foot and ankle told me about the following comments from perfect strangers:
“When I got out of my cast and put weight on my leg for the first time I thought I’d die.”
“They warned me that when I got out of my cast and put weight on my leg for the first time it would hurt, but I practically ran across the room.”
I don’t know if anyone ever asked her how she felt.
Later that same day another coworker bemoaned the fact that she’d be turning 30 soon. I confess I simply moaned. 30? Please. Then another lady started reminiscing about her 30th birthday and how this and that and the other thing happened and after five minutes or so I realize the youngster (Sorry, 29-year-olds bring out the snarky in me) had never gotten the chance to talk about why 30 seems like such a scary milestone.
Mr. Pettit and I love to travel, both for the places we see and for the people we meet. We’ve been fortunate to run into world travelers who happily share their experiences and give us advice you can’t find in any guidebook. And then there are folks like...well, we’ll call them Mr. and Mrs. Beentheredonethat.
With the first syllable of any locale Mr. and Mrs. B. would be off and running.
“We really liked Nor…”
“Yes, we loved Norway too. Been there two times, once in the back of a whaler. Did we tell you about the whales we saw in Alaska? I was going to ride one but the water was too cold. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
And don’t think “That Ain’t Nothin’” can only be played by adults. Talk to anyone who’s ever taught young children and they’ll relate a discussion like this:
Teacher: This story is about a little puppy who misses his mother.
Boy #1: Today’s my mother’s birthday.
Girl #1: My mother had a birthday one time.
Boy #1: My birthday’s next week.
Boy #2: I had a puppy.
Girl #1: I got a puppy for my birthday.
Girl #2: My puppy peed on the floor.
(Maniacal laughter ensues.)
Boy #3: My brother pees on the floor all the time.
Teacher: It’s time for math.
As you can see, the rules for “That Ain’t Nothin’” really are easy enough for a child to play. If a person says something bad has happened to them, you report something worse.
Player #1: I broke my leg.
Player #2: I broke my leg and my arm when I was 12.
The rules allow you to go as far back in time as necessary. You can also pull in distant relatives, celebrities and historical figures.
On the other hand, if a person has good news to report, you relate something better.
Player #1: I just won a million dollars!
Player #2: I hear a lady in Sheboygan won two million dollars and a week with George Clooney.
I’m getting better about not interrupting people when I can’t contain my wisdom for a second longer. However, I still find myself formulating responses to what someone is saying instead of truly listening to them. As with many things, I remain a work in progress.