what makes the difference?

Saturday, November 28, 2009 |

Elizabeth over at The Occidental Idiot is a friend and inspiration, and we’ve been exchanging blog prompts for a while – though it’s been a while since the last time. This time around, the topic is “What makes the difference?” Interpretation up to me. So I’m going to take it in small chunks and diverse subjects. Feel free to weigh in on “what makes the difference” in your own experiences in the comments!

Between humor and awkwardness?

Humor is largely dependent on environment and certain ‘x’ factors, things beyond any one person’s control. After all, a good, humorous situation involves an interaction. One person has to say something or do something or record something (film, etc.) that elicits a favorable and amused reaction. When they don’t quite hit the mark, there’s the classic awkward moment, which often seems to stretch off into eternity. I think there are several things which can make the difference, but the most important is an open mind on both sides of the interaction. A willingness to be entertained. It is VERY hard to get a laugh out of a person if they’re not open to it. I mean, I know stand-up comedians do it all the time, but most of their repertoire is based on shock tactics, and they are, after all, professionals.

Whereas in my case, for example, it’s all about self-deprecation and extreme goofiness. If I can’t communicate well enough to make fun of some of my extremely odd characteristics (and I do have them, be warned!), then I tend to revert to slapstick. I’ll purposely run into walls or doors or street signs. I will ask strangers intimate questions and make silly faces or start dancing. I will be an absolute fool. But none of that is effective if the audience is completely depressed or badly drunk or unresponsive. It’s moments like those when I eventually subside into an awkward silence and give up. And then I spend quite a bit of time re-hashing the whole thing in my head to try and discover where it went wrong and why I couldn’t get a laugh. I do so love to get a laugh…

Between cheesy and genuinely entertaining?

I am easily delighted. Bright colors put together, a wondrous story, a fantastical imagination – these all entertain me. But there is a difference (quite noticeable) between cheesy and entertaining. For purposes of brevity, let’s limit this to…films. Cheesy: overdone, badly acted, unbelievable situations, missing segues, improbable dialogue in impossible situations, distasteful humor. Genuinely entertaining: cleverness, brilliant cinematography or set design, characters with whom I can identify, a hint of the bizarre, the unexpected made believable, and surprises that don’t immediately strike me as cliché. Examples: The Brothers Bloom, Charlotte Gray, Gosford Park, A Very Long Engagement, Stardust.

Between buying and not buying?

Intuition. Compulsion. Emotional state. Anticipation. Planning. Price tag. Perceived worthiness or value. Need. Presentation and packaging. I can’t nail it down…it’s all of those things together.

Between competition and apathy?

I think there are a couple of different things that contribute to a competitive spirit versus an apathetic one. a) Stake in the outcome. Is it important to my physical, emotional, spiritual, mental well-being that I win or compete? If so, there’s your answer. If you don’t even ask yourself this question…well… b) General character and personality. How do you deal with conflict? An avoider may choose to cease competing or actively seek activities where competition is uneccessary. c) Level of energy. A generally competitive person may act out of character out of extreme exhaustion. I'm just saying...it could happen!

And that is all. What makes the difference for you?


Katrina said...

Cecilia, this was a very thoughtful and well planned post. Your connections and examples were brilliant. When shopping the difference between buying and not buy for me is quality and my emotional state. If I am not in a chipper mood, I am not buying.

Rebecca, A Clothes Horse said...

Interesting thoughts. I hate apathy; even while overly competitive people can be too much, it's better than no feeling.

Kim said...

Humor--I so agree with you about people being open to humor. Some humor just goes over their heads. I really appreciate the laughter my s.i.l. brings to our family. He has great comedic timing. His observation? He just says what other people are thinking, but either don't say or are afraid to say. That's why it is so funny.

I'm a buyer, not a shopper. Get in, bag it, and get out. If it happens to be on sale, a bonus, but is not necessary to feel good.

I'm happy to participate, but don't NEED to win to feel good. Overly competitive people can ruin a fun time for others.

Thanks for the thought provoking questions!

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