First of all, the point of this article is not to make fun of the guy who jerked off in the hot tub in the company of strangers.
No, that would be a cheap shot. There’s a deeper point to be made here.
I’ve become fairly convinced that civilization ended some time ago, and we just weren’t told. Or maybe we were told, but the messengers seemed too negative, so we dismissed them. Shut up! Everything is awesome!
And truly, it’s a pretty awesome place — this Earth in the 21st century. It’s so awesome that I can wake up in my condo in Phoenix to find a Muslim girl from Kazakhstan sitting on my living room floor, holding a conversation in Russian with one of her homegirls back in Almaty via FaceTime while applying makeup as her boyfriend the atheist Waffle House manager cum Texas State prison guard snoozes on my sofa.
Yes, this actually happened. And it was pretty awesome. I made them breakfast.
Did you know Muslim girls from Kazakhstan like bacon? Of course! Everyone does.
But then, another thought about this world comes to mind. And it’s not very awesome. Do you realize one of the most heinous and reviled public figures today is a guy whose entire claim to celebrity came from eating sandwiches? He was really fat at one time, then restricted his diet to sandwiches from one restaurant and became less fat. This single accomplishment made him a celebrated figure until his private life was revealed. Like most people’s private lives, it was pretty unsavory. Maybe especially so in his case. Still, I think the really repugnant thing was that he became well-known at all — enough for anyone not directly affected by his predictions to even care. A sandwich-eater. Really?
Yet, that’s still not really what I want to talk about today. It is — however — related.
I’ve worked with various dorks for most of my career. Some have accepted their dorkish nature, or even reveled in it. These have done ok. Others were deluded. They seemed to think their inflated salaries were tickets to a certain lifestyle — an alternate reality. They expected money to magically transform them. Doesn’t work that way. If you’re a dork when you’re a 20-year-old studying Visual Basic at a community college and working part-time at a Radio Shack, you’re going to still be a dork ten years later when you’re bringing in the bucks — unless you do something in the meantime to develop yourself. Neither clothes, cars, houses, hairstyles, nor vacation time-shares are going to disguise your essence as a dork. Unless you take the time to hone your values, emotions, self-confidence, self-knowledge, moral sense, people skills and other things that can’t be coded and compiled, you’re still going to be a dork. You’ll be a dork with money.
The one guy I have in mind was a rather tragic case. I say this because he could have been so good. He had almost movie-star looks. He seemed very together at first sight. But after a few attempts at conversation, it became apparent that he had nothing much to say for himself. Nor did he have much to say about anything at all that wasn’t related to Visual Basic. Oh, there were things like his new Jaguar. And his wardrobe. And his expensive shoes. But really, any non-VB conversation would fade off in a tumble of twitches, awkward gestures and mouth-noises appropriate to a ten-year-old. He was entirely insecure about himself. I couldn’t take him seriously enough to hate him. I don’t think anyone could.
So it was at a New Year’s Eve party with my motorcycle club about ten years ago that I noticed Kurt or whatever his name had arrived. He was well-dressed and coiffed, of course. I said “Hi, Kurt.”
I should probably talk about the party. It was a typical house party of the sort thrown by strippers who had ditched accounting jobs at Honeywell to do exotic dancing, partially because the average strip-bar has less sexual harassment than the average corporate office. Yes, the lady of the house was a stripper. So were a few of her friends. Then, there were the people she knew from the online swinger club where she was quite active. I only knew my hostess as that girl with the Honda CBR600 and the custom helmet with her name in script.
Motorcyclists tend to be fun people.
It didn’t take long before various pieces of clothing started coming off. There were gatherings of two or three or more here and there on furniture and in corners and hallways. Me? I just wandered. I had come to drink, mainly, and didn’t much fancy anyone there who wasn’t already — shall we say — occupied. That’s how it usually goes at such events. They say.
At some point the other guests encouraged Kurt to join in a naked hot-tub excursion. After only a few minutes, almost all of them leapt out of the tub to a chorus of “Ewwwwww.”
And there was Kurt, alone.
Later, Kurt would shut down the entrance to Web forum that hosted the motorcycle club with a long, single-paragraph screed confessing his unrequited love for one of the female members and a literary fit of teary-eyed, lip-trembling little-boy damnation for the guy she chose instead. We all had to pay for his broken heart.
The sandwich-eater reminds me of Kurt, actually. Both were dorks with money. Having the money (and in the case of one, fame) sort-of locked them into a state of permanent dorkishness, really. There’s a critical period for developing anything in life.
So, my message to you: If you don’t want to be a dork, don’t wake up one day to find you’ve become a dork with money. Like the co-founder of Facebook insists, it’s critical that you develop yourself as a person in ways outside of your career. Do it early so you can enjoy the fruits of not being a dork for the maximum span of your life. Just do it.