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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

The psychology of douchery

Posted on May 29, 2010 at 11:57 PM

There are certain bits of personality douchery that I just do NOT understand.


One is the guy that somehow manages to slip in front of you when the road narrows from two lanes to one. Then once you are trapped behind him, imprisoned in a single lane with no hope of passing for miles, this mystery man likes to dial the speedo back to a real cool and legal 50 or so. He just loafs along for miles as you sit on his bumper, white knuckling the steering wheel and contemplating angles, acceleration vectors and seconds to impact on risky corner pass attempts, but ultimately just decide to gut it out until the next passing lane appears. Then, as your 1 mile opportunity for freedom becomes available, douchington Hyde violently veers over into the fast lane and immediately jams his accelerator to the floor, catapulting his car to maximum velocity. The faster you go, the faster he seems to go, until you are side-by-side engaged in some kind of random, bizarre drag race happening at speeds that seemed impossible moments before. Once you finally do overcome him, he *immediately* lets off the gas and returns to his leisurely pace. W…T….F?!!!


Seriously, I had this exact thing happen to me today. Is passing this jack-ass taken as some kind of an affront to his manhood? Cause, dude, when you’re driving at 50, I’m already thinking that you’re a ball-less, ween-punch, so the abrupt speeding up is not going to suddenly revolutionize my opinion of you.


The second personality type that I just can’t cotton is the one-upper. this is the guy that *always* has something better to add. Doesn't matter what you've done, he's done it first or better or harder or whatever. Now, I like a good yarn as much as anyone, and if you've got a good tale to tell, well then preach on, brother, but the one-upper is not about the occasional interjection of a good story. His need for attention requires that he constantly adds to your tale.


Now, one of the true greats at one-upping was Dana’s step (it is important to clarify this) grandfather. This was a man that I was not fond of. In fact, there was a time when I told Dana that he would NEVER be welcome in our home. One of the only good things that I can say about him was that in marrying Dana’s grandmother, she moved to California, setting up the eventual meeting between Dana and I, so to *that* I say “Thanks!” To many other things I say absolutely nothing at all while sternly looking away and making myself (and not offering you one!) a stiff drink.


This man was the king of the one-ups, though. The royal, frickin’ majesty of them. There was no story that you had that he could not top or somehow interject his way into. Often his tales weren’t even related to your tale, and he merely one-upped you to here the sound of his voice interrupting the sound of yours.


And, so great was his one-upsmanship that he would pull the ultimate one-up move: one-upping someone when he was not even part of the conversation. Now, this move takes a certain bit of assery that is not easily come by. You have to truly commit to a level of jerkatude that many of us would instinctively pull back from. Here is a typical example. Me, talking to a group of totally not him people. “Yeah, so did I tell you that I’m trying to read the entire bible this year?”


Almost, but not *quite* out of earshot, comes the shout, “I’ve read the bible!”


Someone, forced by years of living in polite society, will then say, “What’s that? I’m sorry,did you say something?”


“I said I’ve read the bible.”


“Oh. That’s nice.”


“Every year. For the last 50 years.”


“That’s great.”


“That is except for those times when I read it more than just once in a year. Which would have been most years.”


Now, there are times when a one-upping is acceptable, so I’d like to give you a quick guide on the signs to look for to know when you have the one-up green light.


1. When the person is actually interested in hearing your one-up. This can go something like this. “So, I was doing a story on B&O and I got to spend a weekend with an Aston Martin.”


“Really? Wow! That sounds really cool. I love high end sports cars. I used to own a Lamborghini.”


Freeze…. Here is the crucial moment. If the person says something like, “Oh, man! You’ve got to be kidding me? A Lambo? For real? How awesome! What was that like?” then by all means, you have earned the right to one-up and proceed with your tale.


If instead you get a response like, “Uh, yeah. Good for you. So, anyhow, back to MY story…” then you should A) not tell your story, and  B) drop this guy ‘cause he’s clearly lame and C) be asking yourself why you ditched the Lambo. (Acceptable answers involve the words “Bugatti” or “McLaren” and possibly “Ferrari” depending on the model.)


2. Your one-up actually adds something to the conversation or comes with an offer or invitation for something. “I went SCUBA diving while I was on vacation and I saw these really cool fish. They looked like (description).”


“Oh, yeah! I know those fish. That’s a XXX. You know, I’m a certified dive master and I’d love to go out with you some time. We can take my boat.”


3. Your one-up is SO mind-blowingly awesome, that there is just no way that you CAN’T tell it. A one-up tale so legendary, that you want to tell it even when it didn’t happen to you. Now, this is a tricky one, so you need to have a lot of confidence in your game. This needs to be a story that borders on being made into a major Hollywood film and that A) everyone will be floored/stunned/blown-away by and that B) no one in the room will even think of topping it. A story that basically makes *your* story its bitch and that leaves the person who was just one-upped feeling better for the experience. As you can see, this is not an easy task, so tread lightly into these waters. However, I do have a great example of this which -- hand to God -- happened to my friend Dan.


Dan was telling a story about how he flew on the Concorde to France. (This might have been a one-up to someone talking about flying first class, I can't be sure.) And generally a comment like “I flew on the Concorde” IS the ultimate one-up, so if this is your tale to push in all your chips with, you are usually safe to do so. However, if you are going to pipe up following this comment, well then, mister, it better be some epic piping.


So, he says it, and this guy is like, “Yeah, I’ve flown on the Concorde. Lots of times."


"Really? Lot's of time?"


"Yeah. By myself. As in I was the only passenger.”


OK. So this pretty much shuts you up and demands a response. “By yourself?”


“Yeah. By myself. I tutored the king of (some middle eastern country)’s kids. He flew me back and forth on the Concorde. Chartered the entire plane for me like every few months. I was the only passenger with a full crew of staff serving me drinks and hanging out. And I got ALL the air miles. For every seat on the plane. Earned *millions* of them.”


And that is how you do that.

Categories: May 2010, Rants

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Reply Dan
1:46 PM on June 3, 2010 
My story so became his 'bitch'.
Reply Kimberly
9:39 PM on October 11, 2013 
I have to tell you I laughed my butt off through the whole article. I work with a woman who is a one-upper to the point that she actually has a physical reaction when she wants to convince you of something that never could have possibly happened. It all made sense! Love your writing!
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