Sunday, April 20, 2008


My mom is a name dropper. She used to tell this story about my older brother's footwear, and how we were so ahead of the times:

"Remember when Jonathan wore sandals, and that was before everyone else was wearing sandals. He was the first. He did it before everyone else wore sandals."

An impressionable youth, six years younger than Jonathan, hearing my mom tell that story many times, I really believed what she was saying. And I felt pride. I would see a guy wearing sandals and I would think, "Oh, but my brother, my family, was the first." [I am not sure if I really think with commas, but using commas makes me feel important.]

This year my wife and I are working on this problem. I want to have conversations without my mentioning that I was the first to do something or that I or my family has a connection to a famous person.

We have come up with a technique: Whenever I mention some connection I have with a famous person, she or I say, "Sandals."

Don't we all know that Pride is a sin? Don't we all know that murder and Pride are not good? It ain't the latest self-help fad, buddy.

It's not that it's a sin, but that it is alienating, it breaks the connection that conversations are, ideally, supposed to create and strengthen. And, it alienates me from myself. When I mention my connection that elevates me, I am not as present. I am less my authentic self, and just a jerk compensating (failing to compensate) for my inadequacies.

Connecting with others feels good. It's the opposite of alienation. When I don't feel connected, name dropping makes it worse, not better.

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