A common lesson of mothers everywhere is “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” This is bunk. You ALWAYS judge a book by its cover and really should only NOT use this method in regards to people. Failed metaphor, in my opinion. Where was I going with this… Oh, yes – judging people. I don’t know when it started for me, but at some point I developed a weird reaction to people’s covers. I have a friend who admits she feels uncomfortable around rich people, and I think I’m this way with pretty people. It’s not that I feel inferior or anything – I’m secure enough with my cover and am reminded I should be just often enough. It’s not that I’m bitter and assume you’ve been gifted with blessings we mere mortals cannot hope to attain. My real reason for not being crazy about pretty people is this: I assume they will be boring.
I should clarify straight off that by “pretty people” I mean people who obviously care a great deal about their physical appearance, their projected persona, their level of cool. Having worked with models, I’ve trained myself to look at people and figure out how much time they spend on the way they look. Tip: Shoes are always a good indicator.
Anyway, there are fortunately exceptions to this “rule.” Some pretty people manage to be both cool and interesting. One 6’5” model guy and I were once really good friends for about 10 minutes as we talked about his philosophy degree. This is not, however, what I have come to expect, and I don’t find it true the majority of the time. Take the girl I met a few summers ago who, while wearing an oversized scarf…in June, told me that she was a nerd because she had seen Star Wars. Not liked Star Wars. Not loved Star Wars. Not memorized Star Wars. Seen Star Wars. Umm, thanks for playing; move along.
There are probably all kinds of studies on how class, schooling, genetics, success, attractiveness, etc. are all related to what a person is interested in, but “pretty people” are generally not interested in the things that interest me. I don’t care what car you drive. I don’t care how much your apartment costs. I don’t care how many touchdowns you threw in college. My eyes roll up into my head a little bit whenever I’m with a group of people who can’t talk about anything deeper than the last party they went to. And, more often than not, when I find myself in these situations, I’m surrounded by pretty people. So, I blanket judge the lot of them.
Hypothetically speaking (translation: not hypothetically speaking), I have no interest in that pretty guy at a party who only wants to talk about how much money he makes while eating Twizzlers and accidentally flicking spit at me as he gestures with said Twizzler. However, I am VERY interested in the conversation going on across the table about the Avengers vs. the Justice League.
These are my people.
This is my language.
I was summing up this story with a friend last weekend, and he laughed at me, “So being smart and interesting means being a nerd?” I blinked and realized that, yes, this is exactly what I mean. So, I guess I judge in the opposite way that most people view pretty people vs. nerds.
To be clear, I’m not saying that being ugly or socially awkward is a prerequisite for being interesting or vice versa. And I’m not limiting being interesting to only a quality of the nerdy. What I’m saying is that nerdy people tend not to care about exteriors. They’re much more all-inclusive. With pretty people, appearance is everything. With nerdy people, interests are everything.
I think this whole dynamic is much better as adults than as teenagers, obviously. Bridging the gap is attempted more often. At that party, for example, the dude-bro was welcome to sit and talk about comic books – even if he did eat his Twizzlers in boredom and play on his phone. And he did invite me to the basement where the pretty people were playing beer pong. I went as a kind of experiment, and I was at least pleased to find that they were nice. They seemed confused why I was there – sheep in wolf’s clothing that I was – but they were nice. (Sidenote: The dude-bro made an honest mistake in assuming I was one of them. On the rare occasion that I go out in public, I do take the opportunity to wear the better part of my closet – i.e. nothing from the sweatpants section. I can care, but the majority of the time I forgo makeup and end up walking around the Knapp Meijer being judged by the natives.) Anyway, nice as the pretty people in the basement were, I just didn’t fit down there. I wanted to get away from the discussion about their last party and back to the convo upstairs about making homemade movies.
As an author bud told me recently, “You’re unique. You don’t have to be pretty.” …I’m really not sure how to take that, but I think I thanked him. I guess I like not worrying about being a pretty person and instead letting my nerd show. That is what I want people to see of me. That’s the interesting part of me that loves connecting with other people’s interesting, nerdy bits. I guess it feels more real to me to get to know what a person loves. Can you be a nerd about football? Sure. Can you be a nerd about iPhones and the GAP and breweries? Certainly. I’m not limiting my interest in what people love – just have interests that matter to you more than how you present yourself.
So. Maybe I do judge people by their covers. I’m delighted when I’m wrong. But I think maybe it’s healthier for me to focus on being unique rather than pretty, and that attitude is certainly something I gravitate towards in others.
Apologies to Twizzlers Dude.