Friday, November 25, 2011

He Who Knows Best

As a kid, I always read a favorite Sunday newspaper column. People would write in with etiquette problems and a colorful columnist would give her honest but hilarious advice on the action you should or should not take. Some of it was tongue in cheek, some of it was plain naughty, and some was, to a certain extent, permissible. Oh how I wish I could have had her advice a short while ago. A situation occurred, unexpectedly, during an evening with friends.

Maybe I am simple, or maybe I am just too nice but what is it about people who feel they have to try to make themselves look bigger, better, or more knowledgeable than their guests. Perhaps the need to do this is driven by some complex personality issue they possess, but how should one respond to it?

Let's take my situation, where the host was being a total moron and in all honestly, very rude. Should I have put it down to their ignorance or bad breeding? Should I have considered the complexity of that person's small mind? Alternatively, should I have entered into battle and as we say in England, taken them down a peg or two? This is the very advice I would have sought from the said columnist above had she been sitting next to me at the time. Alas, life just does not work that way, and I had to face it alone with glass in hand and one of those smiles on my face. You know, the smile that says, "You are a bloody idiot, but I am going to sit here and look like an idiot myself in order to make you feel better." It was sad, just sad.

On this particular occasion, the individual was trying to show their superior knowledge about the realms of grapes, aka wine. We had bought a bottle to the event and yes, it wasn't the best, but it was decent enough, and drinkable. Apparently, not so drinkable for our host, who decided to take it upon themselves to, as they said, take my husband and I to a "higher level" and expose us to a grape experience that only people with finer tastes enjoy. It was on the tip of my tongue to say, "Honey, I have drank more expensive, finer wines than you have had hot dinners," but I didn't and my husband knew the best thing to do was just step outside and take a break. Of course, I sat there swilling the liquid in my mouth looking suitable impressed, but inside I was seething. How arrogant is it to assume that you are better than the next person is? How ignorant is it to assume that you have experienced more than the next person has? And, how ghastly is it to assume you are more knowledgeable that the next person is?

I always grew up knowing a common fact that one who has money and is used to it will not show off, one who is intellectually gifted and feels comfortable with it will not put you down, and one who has experience or expertise will not boast about it. Apparently, some people didn't get the memo!

I endured this put down for a couple of hours, one insult after another, moving on from wine to cheese, and all based upon making the host's status elevated. Wonderful!

Unfortunately, I came home and vented, loudly, to some friends, who had witnessed the scene. I aggressively opened a bottle of not-so-cheap wine and drank it straight down. I did not even take a minute to enjoy its flavor. It could have been vinegar, I didn't care, but unfortunately my head cares today, and it is not giving me a break. My brain is thumping at my temples as if saying, "Who is the idiot now?"

Is this sweet revenge for my awful thoughts -- maybe? Perhaps I should ask the host who knows the most!

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