I have become aware that I am a snob. Not a very pleasant thing to know, see, or feel. But, far worse for a North Wisconsin Hillbilly, who lives in jeans and over-sized t-shirts, only slides shoes on when she must go out on an errand, and eats most of her meals on the couch in front of the television, or worse, while peering at a computer screen.
That simply means that my snobbishness has a very narrowed in perspective. It has to do with presentation. When I write in my journal, I use dashes, draw arrows from one line to another, scratch out words in preference of others, leave gaps because I’ve wondered off on some thought tangent or another, and very seldom use punctuation of any kind, other than an occasional period, that denotes an end to a certain thought process, rather than a sentence. And although, I now, for the most part, do my journal on the computer, I have found ways to do all of the above there as well.
But, my journal is private, not meant for public consumption. It is first and foremost, meant for my own convenience. No more than notes on my daily existence. Poem fragments, disjointed thoughts and tangents, things I need or want to remember, and the repository of my more unseemly responses to people and situations. A series of exclamation marks does not mean a deeply profound insight that needs emphasis. It usually means I’m pissed as hell and need to make that apparent. Or that I lack the words to really express the depth of my feelings. That doesn’t happen too much anymore, the loss of words, I mean.
And all of that would seem to point at the contradiction to snobbery. But, I’m not speaking about my journal writing. I’m addressing the issue of public speaking, here on the Internet. I have a routine that I use when I post on any of my blogs. I come here, pull up the blank space for a new post and begin writing. I don’t often have more than a vague idea of a subject matter, and work it out as I follow the words. But am always aware, even at that beginning stage, that this is not my private journal.
So, even as I am working through whatever it is I want to express, I structure it into sentences and paragraphs. Use punctuation, where it is needed, and pay close attention to spelling (like most writers, I have a tendency to sound things out first, then check later). If I have a question about said spelling, I’ll hit the safe draft button and go find the correct letter formation for the word I want to use.
When I have all of the words in place, I save it again, copy it and paste it to a separate document and run it through my word processor. This may sound like a bit of work, but it really isn’t. It’s part of my process. Rereading it, making sure it says exactly what I intended, sometimes finding better ways to express an idea, by using different phraseology etc., is all a part of the process. And yes, I keep a notebook handy to mark down any changes I find necessary, as well as misspellings and typos. It’s a red letter day when the notebook has no jottings on it.
Then when I’m done, I copy it and file the hard copy, come back here with my notes and make the changes necessary, reading through it once again before hitting the publish button. This is my personal routine, and I am not suggesting that anyone else do the same. What I’m getting at is how different this behavior is from the eat in front of the television, jeans and t-shirt, bare foot creature I really am.
So, why the departure? I find the comparison rather striking. I wasn’t always the jeans and t-shirt person I have become. I grew up in a generation where most females wore dresses more often than not. Attended parochial school for my first eight years of education, and even in public high school there was a dress code that did not consider slacks or jeans proper attire for young women.
And what I remember, far better than any class room learning from that time period, was the social gaffe of having ones slip show beneath the hem of whatever dress or outfit one might choose to wear on any given day. It said something about you, and the way you felt about your own person. And even if it didn’t make that statement real, if it was an accident, a broken strap, or some such reality, it was an embarrassment to be told, “Ummm, Your slip is showing.”
Although, I could probably write an entire essay on that particular subject, I am grateful that we have come a long way from there in my lifetime. And I am definitely grateful that now a days, comfort is far higher on everyone’s priority list than back in that other time of existence. But, even in these less restrictive times, we still make some effort to put our best foot forward when entering the public arena.
Allowing your slip to drag below your hemline, meant you didn’t care, lacked self-esteem, or couldn’t be bothered to take the time to do those few extra things that allowed the public to know you actually wanted to interact and participate with the individuals you might have contact with. If you didn’t care about you, how or why would anyone else know that you might care about them and what they might be feeling or thinking.
And yes, it was usually one of the snobs, who would wait until you were in a highly visible situation, before pointing at that bit of slip and saying with exagerated care, “Umm, Your slip is showing.” Far better, a caring friend, who would pull you aside and whisper those words where no one could hear, and then step in front of you to shield you while you made the necessary adjustment.
Here, on the Internet, we don’t see one another. All we have to go on is the words and images presented. If those words are pockmarked with misspellings, misused phrases, or overused or wrongly used punctuation, that is all I, or anyone can know about the person behind those things.
I think it is obvious that I love language, the beauty and flow of words as they step out in their finest attire, seeking only to be heard, perhaps to find a home somewhere inside of even one reader’s person. What’s more, I want the same for you.
Each of us has a story to tell. That’s the main reason we are here. But, if I see that you don’t care, are simply in a rush to push and prod those words into my sphere, I might not listen as carefully as you desire, or I might totally misunderstand what you are actually saying and walk away confused, frustrated, or with nothing at all. I might return, but then again, maybe not. If you don’t care, why should I?
I’m not perfect, I don’t do it right every time. Far from it. But if I am a snob, I will be that one who leans in and whispers in your ear, “Umm, Your slip is showing, you might want to fix that.”