I have to learn to write in words of one – um – syllable. I am too – er – pretentious. People keep telling me that. ‘OB,’ they say, looking all stern and disapproving (okay, mostly one syllable – anyway, I said I have to learn: I haven’t learned yet, I’m working on it) – looking all grim and censorious, ‘you are too pretentious. You use big words that you don’t know what they mean or that other people don’t know what they mean, and you only do it to be pretentious. You should be cool and ironic like us. We have 75 degrees and you have one, and that is why you are pretentious and we are cool and ironic. You see, people like you, who know nothing but wish they did, do not like it when people like us, who know everything, are cool and ironic about knowing everything. And that is not entirely a bad thing – it is mostly a bad thing, but not entirely. It is a little bit good that people like you who know nothing should go on thinking knowledge is a good thing, because that gives people like us something to be cool and ironic about. May I pat you on the head? Hold still – there. However, you are too pretentious. You don’t talk about pop culture enough. You don’t talk about how ironic you are enough. You don’t write a book every three months. All that adds up to a severe case of pretentiousness. You must do better.’
So I have to try to do better, you see. When people get all grim and censorious at me I take it for granted that there is something badly amiss with my behavior and way of thinking, and I resolve to improve – I mean fix it.
Actually I suppose the simplest way to do that would be to say the hell with all this and get a job cleaning toilets. Nobody ever tells janitors they’re pretentious (well, except other janitors).