Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"... yeah ..."

Once in a while, TV will teach you something, inspire you to become someone new. Game shows inspire you to be more knowledgable : knowing that Smirnoff Vodka has 40% alcohol could save somebody's life. Reality TV inspires you to be real, a real good actor. But nonetheless, the point remains : they teach, they inspire. It's ironic that Seinfeld, the best comedy series ever created, inspired me to be .... (I want to say) ... a rebel. By the looks of it, you won't believe me. So I'll say anti-social - believe it or not, it's a more socially acceptable term (this has nothing to do with not socializing with people. I love having a drink, usually more than four, with friends). But sometimes it's not as easy as portrayed on that little TV screen. Because when push comes to shove, you can expose yourself to some serious embarrassment, not to mention fighting a lone battle.

(Jerry Seinfeld & Co. are off to attend a dinner party)

ELAINE: Maybe we should stop off on the way and get a bottle of wine or something.
GEORGE: What for?
ELAINE: These people invited us for dinner. We have to bring something.

ELAINE: Because it's rude, otherwise.
GEORGE: You mean just going there because I'm invited, that's rude?
GEORGE: So you're telling me instead of being happy to see me they're going to be upset because I didn't bring anything. You see what I'm saying?
JERRY: The fabric of society is very complex George.

I love this Seinfeld episode (I love pretty much every single one of them!). But I will always remember Jerry's profound statement about the current society we live in - it is very complex. Here's a social riddle : if someone died on their birthday, would you sing the "happy birthday" song at their funeral?? (let's override technicalities like having a funeral a few days after the person dies. And anyways, in the future, funerals will take place moments after the last breath. People won't have that much time to spare.)

So anyways, Seinfeld made me think about social rules; it made me conscious about them. While people around me were busy focusing on their academics and career, these were the dillemmas I was going through. You're right, I was crazy. On the surface, everything looked normal. But let me tell you a secret about us crazy people : we are adept at acting normal.

During such a phase, I went through a personal pop quiz of social rules endurance. I will not mention names here - you know who you are. I was about to go out for dinner with my friends. On that particular day, one of my friends' sister was visiting for the Thanksgiving weekend. So before leaving for the restaurant, we are formally introduced. This is all happening while I'm putting on my shoes. I say hi and smile and she does the same, except she says "nice to meet you." Blackout. Everything around me disappears into a blur. Voices in my head. "Be a good boy and just say''nice to meet you too'" I opt for ignorance, look down and (re-)tie my shoelaces. There was silence, I could clearly hear it. "Ummmmm ...... she said 'nice to meet you'", points out my friend. Damn! Now I have to say something. Those voices again. "Nice to meet you too." And then, with as much as nonchalance as I could muster, I blurt out "... yeah ...", and add in a nod or two for good effect.

"... yeah ..."???? Yeah what?
A) Yeah, it's nice to meet me?
B) Yeah, I heard you?
C) Yeah, we're getting late?
D) Yeah, Happy Thanksgiving?
E) Yeah, I have nothing else to say?

The answer : F) All of the above. F is also for "failed". Moral of the story : when in doubt, say "... yeah ..."; it's a sure-shot way of getting yourself into trouble.

So why didn't you just pick the easy option and say "nice to meet you too" and get it all done with?? You know what? I'm sick and tired of saying it if I don't mean it. This doesn't mean it wasn't nice to meet her, but it doesn't quite qualify for 'nice' either (let's give the word the respect it deserves). And there's nothing wrong with it. Most first encounters aren't special (if you can manage to find something amusing about every person you meet for the first time, all the power to you). When you really get to know the person better, then you can truly say "nice to meet you" (or not!) because then you'll mean it and not say it because it's the most 'appropriate' reply. On second thoughts, Jerry, it's not so complex really. But we lead such simple lives that we can't bear to have it so easy.

Until next time, ...... "... yeah ..."

P.S. I'm not able to recall if I really said "... yeah ...". But who cares? It makes for a great story! :)