Whether or not the author is being self-depricating I do not know. If he honestly doesn’t recognize the pattern, that actually makes it funnier to me because there are two objects of humor. First there is the girl for being what she is (more on that in a bit) and then there’s the slapstick humor of a guy that keeps getting smacked by the handle-pole stepping on the same rake.
Megan has two complaints:
- This does not describe every girl. It describes an archetype. The dude is dating the wrong chicks.
- The dude is smug about his apparently (undescribed) superiority over her.
Both of these criticisms are quite valid. I’m a bit thin-skinned about jokes about “every guy” (or even “every guy” of a particular subtype such as nerds) and I can understand her consternation. He should have said “every girl you’ve ever dated”. That might detract of the humor if there is supposed to be a self-depricating aspect of it, but it would probably compensate that by increasing the audience. It needlessly puts women on the defensive because they’re not sure whether that’s part of the joke or not. I’m not sure either, as mentioned, but it’s easier to be thick-skinned when you’re not getting cut.
Spungen joins Megan in asking what basis the guy feels superior. That’s a fair question. Maybe the guy isn’t superior at all. He may well be part of a loathesome or irritating archetype himself. The thing about archetypes, though, is that all of them believe that their type is superior. It’s like religion, if you don’t believe yours is best, why follow it at all?
So why do I think it’s so funny? In part because it’s a variation on something very familiar to me. I’ve never dated or been in the apartment of a girl that the author seems to be inundated with. That type really has no use for a guy like me and that’s pretty reciprocal (depending on what she looks like and how long I’ve been single). He’s talking about the archetypal Post-Sorority Quirk Chick (PSQC). These girls may or may not have been a part of a formal sorority, but they’ve at least bought into aspects of the lifestyle and, in the absense of having any notably attractive features, have attempted to sprinkle in some quirky aspects. If you can’t be better, be different.
But while I’m not familiar with that particular archetype, what I am familiar with and have commented on repeatedly is a different archetype with the same motivations: the Goth-Bisexual-Pagan Threefer. The bane of my dating existence were those tried to be “different” by being alternative in what became to me an utterly predictable way.
What these two types have in common is a cookie-cutter approach to identity. The inane trying to be interesting. I think that’s where the superiority comes from. It’s not so much the lack of a dungeon motif as the lack of anything original or unique around her. It’s indicative of her cookie-cutter life. On the surface there is nothing original or special about her, but she is fascinated with herself because she has followed the blueprint for how to be unique and special.
The candles, the quirkily-named cat, the decorative birdcage, and the furniture with no discernable purpose. These are all desperate attempts of the PSQC to be novel and interesting… but she got it all at that ground zero of mass-produced, yuppie stuff, Ikea.
As a brief aside, the funniest thing at Walmart is the “alternative” clothing they have their. I once saw a hoodie with little plastic studs, a chevron on the shoulder, and an imprint on front of a screaming guy with a mohawk. There are also t-shirts of worn-looking old-style logos of Pepsi, Sunkist, and the type of of authentic thing that you might have gotten at a vintage shop… except of course that it’s brand new. Nothing “alternative” can really ever be bought at Walmart. It’s self-contradicting. It’s impossible. But people keep buying it apparently cause Walmart keeps stocking it. What an exasperating culture we’re a part of.
Back to PSQC. Her drive to be special and unique and interesting is further indicated by her rambling on despite his apparent lack of interest. It’s so interesting that she can’t seem to fathom that he’s not interesting. She’s like the girl that keeps telling you about some inane and non-sensical dream asking every couple minutes “Isn’t that totally weird?!” Anyone with any social sense at all knows that there is nothing, nothing, nothing interesting about non-sensical dreams.
Now let’s move on to my arch-enemy, the Goth-Bisexual-Pagan Threefer (GBPT). She likely either didn’t have enough friends or have the demeanor to be a PSQC, so she chose a different blueprint. Goth’s are totally deep. Bisexuals are sexxy. Pagans are totally on a higher spiritual plane than those know-nothings that tormented her in junior high or whenever. They all have in common that they are persecuted and misunderstood. Don’t you understand how persecuted and misunderstood she is?! SHE HAS SUFFERED FOR HER PAIN!!!! And she’s stronger for it. And more interesting.
There is an outstanding song by Bare Naked Ladies called “Aluminum” that absolutely nails this sort of person. It’s more geared towards the GBPT than the PSQC, but there is an element of truth to underlying problem with them both. If I could introduce you all to the song I would, but I’ll part with the closing lyrics thereof:
You’re so lightweight, how can you survive?
Recycling moments from others’ lives
You’re not as precious as you contrive
Aluminum to me
Aluminium to some
You can shine like silver all you want
But you’re just Aluminum
Yeah, you’re just Aluminum