Okay, let's get this one out of the way. I'm not a big fan of putting other people down. But I'm even less of a fan of other people putting other people down. This is not a question of me showing sympathy and compassion. The "other people" those other people are putting down invariably includes me.
All right, so here we go.
I'm working with this person, who, besides being immensely talented, is also extremely knowledgeable about the workings of the American government. He knows the big stuff and the small stuff. The minutiae. The stuff most people don’t care about. He knows it all.
But knowing, apparently, wasn't enough. For some reason – my wife is the psychologist in the family, not me – not only did this person know a lot of stuff about the workings of the American government, he needed everyone to know he knew. That was him. That was his way.
I'm familiar with the type. Please, I am the type. I know a lot about Toronto Maple Leaf hockey in the 1960's and I'm not shy about throwing it around. He goes on about the Department of Health and Human Services, I tell anyone who asks or doesn't ask that the centre who played between Frank Mahovlich and Bobby Nevin was Leonard "Red" Kelly, who later went on to become a Member of of the Canadian Parliament. I get it, it's fine.
But this isn't.
One day, we’re working on something, I guess, related to this subject, because it came up naturally in the conversation. By the way, if I’m wrong about this, "this" meaning the way I responded to what I’m about to tell you, feel free to let me know. I realize my social skills aren't the most perfectly honed. A well-reasoned correction on the matter would not be out of place.
In the natural flow of the conversation, the person who knows a lot about the workings of the American government but also needs you to know he knows says,
HIM: “You know, a lot of people think it’s ‘The National Institute of Health.’ It’s not.”
ME: “It’s not?”
HIM: “No. It's ‘The National Institutes of Health.’”
ME: "I didn’t know that.”
HIM: “A lot of people don’t. They think it’s the ‘National Institute of Health.’”
ME: “I did.”
HIM “And it’s not. It’s ‘National Institutes of Health.’”
ME: “Thank you for clearing that up.”
HIM: "It's “Institutes.”
HIM: “Not Institute.”
ME: “I got it.”
HIM: “It’s the plural – “Institutes.”
HIM: “People think it's the singular.”
ME: "That would be the singular."
HIM: “They think it’s ‘The National Institute of Health, and they’re wrong.”
ME: “Yes, they are.”
HIM: “You know why?”
ME: “Because it’s ‘The National Institutes of Health.”
ME: “It isn’t?”
HIM: “They’re wrong because they’re ignorant.”
Okay. Right there. That bothered me. And I said,
ME: “You know, ignorance is just something you don’t know yet. When you find out, you're not ignorant anymore.’”
HIM: “People don't know it's the National Institutes of Health."
ME: “That's right.”
HIM: “Because they’re ignorant.”
A pause, and possibly a sigh. As I've mentioned, I’m a huge fan of westerns. So I said,
ME: “Do you know the name of Hopalong Cassidy’s horse?”
ME: “I do. It’s Topper. Now you know. And you’re not ignorant anymore.”
Years ago, my four year-old daughter and I waited in line at the Dumbo ride at Disneyland. When we finally reached the front, my daughter abruptly said, "No good this one, Daddy", and we left. When people puff themselves up at the expense of others, I have exactly the same reaction.
"No good this one."
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