January 4, 2005
by David A. Zimmerman
"So, how was your New Year's Eve? Whadja do?"
That's a relatively safe question for casual acquaintances to ask one another, which means you'll likely be hearing it a lot till the statute of limitations runs out--probably shortly before February 1, when the default question switches to "So, whatcha got planned for Valentine's Day?"
Whatcha do says a lot about you. In my case, I went to a New Year's Eve get together with some friends. They played cards upstairs while I played Spider-Man II on the X-Box downstairs. Shortly before midnight I was utterly destroyed by Rhino, so I went upstairs to play what is essentially the Star Wars version of Yu-Gi-Oh! while my wife cleaned up after me. An hour later we went home. Five hours later I woke up to finish preparing a couple of short talks to introduce two of the three Lord of the Rings films during a New Year's Day marathon.
Spider-Man II, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. What's that say about me? All three of these brands--not to mention playing video games or card-based war games--are the domain of the supergeeky. And I suppose that's a fair brand to label me with; I did, after all, write a book about comic books. I and a group of friends took an online quiz once to determine how geeky we were, and I scored lower than some but higher than many, so I don't have much of a nongeeky leg to stand on.
But from another angle, my actions over the New Year might convince some people that who I am is something less forgivable. I'm not generally known as someone who sits aloof from other people playing video games or watching movies or otherwise indulging in sedentary, passive entertainment. I like to be around people, mixing it up in noncompetitive play. But for forty-eight hours I was aloof, competitive and sedentary. So I suppose one thing my New Year's experience says about me is that I'm easily distorted.
Fair enough, I suppose: I am, after all, human, and to be human is in a sense to be distorted, if you take the biblical account of the Fall to be descriptive of the human condition as I do. Two humans--the only two, for that matter--are made perfect and given a perfect creation but find a way to screw the whole thing up. And being part of the whole thing, they get screwed-up themselves. In the subsequently distorted reality, as Job puts it, "man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward."
Even Job is distorted: it's pronounced "jobe," and it's a guy's name, but on first glance everyone pronounces it "jahb," like whatcha do. Which is almost appropriate for the whole, distorted lot of us, since we tend to think that whatcha do is who you are anyway.
Happy new year, by the way. Whadja do? Post a comment!