A S(n)ob Tale

“Hi, my name is Mark, and I’m a snob.”

“Hi Mark.”

“I don’t like going into new situations or meeting new people. That means I’m a snob about everything, right? A social snob. If I already have it or know it or know you, I don’t want it or you to be added to or replaced by anything because the new thing or person can’t possibly be as good as the one I know or own.

“But this goes against what I tell myself and what I know from experience is true: that every new person I meet might—in just a few weeks—might be a best friend who I can not imagine life without. Every new person is a friend I am going to feel snobbish about and possessive of in a little while.”

“I think we’ve had a breakthrough. Shake hands with the two people next to you.”


* * * *
Snobbishness is my form of insecurity about my own likes and loves; I resist introductions to new things and people (to my detriment, as even I acknowledge, but I resist all the same), as if I am insisting that what I already possess and love is sufficient.

At its most benign, this gives me a collection of quirks. At a bookstore, I do not purchase the book from the top of the pile of identical books. Instead, I find a copy below, as if “my copy” sat there untouched by human hands and unseen by human eyes until I found it. Yet I love used books and their lived-in qualities. My own books appear unread, with the spine uncracked. I do not lend books to people who crack them open, and I know which of my friends treat books in said fashion. In my world, there is a right way to read books.

At its most malignant, this gives me a truly stand-offish air, a self-presentation that of course only serves to reinforce my prejudicial thought that the people I love and the things that I already know are quite fine as they are.

* * * *
De gustibus non est disputandum. Loosely translated, this means, “There is no reason to argue about matters of taste.” There is no fighting over subjective personal likes or dislikes such as colors or sounds. You can not successfully argue me into liking certain smells. I can not punch you hard enough to like what strawberries taste like. I can show you how to make coffee the way I like it, which of course is the only way to make it, but there is no amount of money I can present to you to convince your taste buds to agree with mine.

(Dark roast, half-and-half—I know, I am such an American—enough half-and-half to convince me that the color has changed, even though a painter with a color wheel might be hard-pressed to find the change, so, no, not much half-and-half. Sugar.)

I am aware that there are best practices for using tools and producing things and enjoying many foods and drinks, and I know that these are usually merely socially agreed upon practices developed through experience. They are not universal physical laws or properties of mathematics. They are suggestions. One ought not teach a student to play piano like Chico Marx, but if you meet someone who taught themselves his method, do not urge them to un-learn it.

I took a lot of pride in and occupied too much of my brain with knowing these “best practices”: the best way to make a whatever or know which color goes with which season or which performance of this or that piece of music is the one to enjoy. Knee-jerk snobbishness is the opposite of enjoying something. It is blind and deaf and meekly resistant (no matter how loud the protestations) to the new.

The WordPress Daily Prompt for October 8 asks, “Even the most laid back and egalitarian among us can be insufferable snobs when it comes to coffee, music, cars, beer, or any other pet obsession where things have to be just so. What are you snobbish about?”