Someone once told me I should be a philosopher. I was very flattered. I imagined that I had said something wise and intellectual, or that I had caused her to examine her ideas or to change perspectives, or think of things that she’d never thought before.
And then the neurosis kicked in and I wondered if what she really meant was that I had the look of an unemployed, malnourished, homeless person. Possibly, she meant I thought too much and spoke in unintelligible phrases sounding vaguely like they came from a pretentious fortune cookie.
I ran to the bathroom to check out option number one. I clearly had the wild-eyed stare. My hair looked wind-blown and disheveled. My clothes, well, they were my normal, “not at work” look, which…
Yeah. Option one was a distinct possibility. The good news was that my deodorant appeared to be working and nothing was caught between my teeth. Currently.
Of course, there was always option two. Perhaps her comment was a reflection of an unconscious habit? Perhaps I spoke in paradoxes or riddles, or some other, important sounding, but ultimately nonsensical, phrases. Maybe she caught me on a day when I’d been to the dentist and uttered knowing lines like “The lion waits for the marmot to hide the casserole,” or “when two caterpillars share a leaf, the tree cannot fail to find a pillow.”
Could there be an option three?
Maybe she was saying something really unappealing. Perhaps she was wishing that I would end up in obscurity somewhere, writing thoughts no one would ever read, except for other philosophers. Maybe she was imagining that I would spend my nights writing useless dreck and my days I would spend asking such meaningful universe expanding questions such as “Would you care to Super Size that for a mere 39 cents more?”
Going back to the complimentary options, I did day dream for a few moments and imagine what life would be like if I could spend my work day doing nothing but thinking great thoughts and writing about ideas, and I remembered how many ideas I already have and how much they torment me day and night and force me to do drastic things. I shuddered and went searching for some brain bleach to banish the thought of more thinking from my brain.
I have no idea what would prompt me to talk about such things. Why would anyone spend this much time analyzing a simple comment? What could prompt me to spend hours trying to figure out whether it was a complement, or an insult, or what prompted someone to say such a thing to me? I could think of only a single answer to this insane train of thought. I probably had a column deadline.