Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Great Isn't What it Used to Be

It really isn't. Take the Great American Auto Center. It's not their fault they're not THE definitive auto center. However, it is - how shall I put this - uh, reaching, to claim ownership of such a lofty title. And post it outside for all to see the blatant incongruity of sign and service. But maybe it gets people to pause for just long enough to remember their worn out brakes and consider getting them done there.

It got me thinking, though. How many times have you passed a fast food stand claiming to make "the world's best burger" or some or other "world famous" dish? Chances are, you live within a short drive of the place and hadn't even heard of them until that moment. It's a blatant lie to claim that people hundreds of thousands of miles away are settling down at their local restaurant in Johannesburg or Karachi or Maidenhead, lamenting "this hotdog really isn't as good as Pinks!"

To make matters worse, big claims just beg for big retorts. I wrote and performed a show called The Great Glendini. One witty reviewer entitled his crit "The Great Glendini isn't that Great". I guess I was asking for it. To be fair, the character in the play was a failure, who missed out on fame and was now a bitter man. I think the reviewer was alluding to that fact, as his review was rather positive. But the headline certainly wasn't going to lure any theatre patrons looking for a night out.

We're all liers at heart, of course. We may not realise it, but we lie every day. Every time a coworker asks how you're doing and you say "great", you're lying. You are. Be honest now. You're not doing great at all, are you? You're neck deep in a mortgage, car payments and you're putting off major dental work your insurance won't cover. But you say "great" because that's your stock response, it doesn't invite further inquiry and you don't have to offload 35 years of baggage that all started when Samantha stole your matchbox car and you wept quietly in the treehouse while the other toddlers played hide and seek. But I digress...

The point, if indeed there is a point, is that we should come clean. Tell the truth, even the little truths like how we really are feeling. Otherwise what's the point of asking these questions in the first place? Because it's ettiquette? Well stuff ettiquette if no-one wants to hear the answer. Then don't ask the question. I'm telling all, people. Ask me how I am, and I'm gonna call it like I feel it. If I'm feeling like crap, I'll tell you. Because you have a right to know. And I have a write to tell you if you ask.

Also, I'm downgrading my standards of what's great. It used to be that a childhood trip to NASA (which I never experienced) would qualify as great. Nowadays, I'm making ice cream great. Getting in my car and realising I have a full tank of gas is great. Heck, waking up in the morning is great. And in another 2 weeks I'll need to come up with the rent.



  1. ..LOL.. okay okay, I'll bite. How're you doing today? :) (I truly hope you make your rent and that you are doing fantastic!)

    Hmm.. perhaps you've been in the City of Lost Angels to long. I sense a bitterness masked by satire. Okay, I agree, most people ask how you are as routinely as drinking coffee while reading their newspaper. It becomes a standard phrase like "hello" with no real intent to hear the corresponding answer. Doesn't make us all liars at heart. :( Some people do care what others are going through in their lives. :) Some of us would give you advice that unless you have shark dna somewhere in your background, you are on your last set of teeth and better fix them before it's to late! ;)
    I disagree that "great" isn't what it used to be, more likely perception isn't what it once was, yes?
    Never downgrade!!!! just learn to move forward. Your recent blogs have such an element of fun, and yet such an underlying sadness. It's just one short life. There are so many wonders, so much beauty and amazing things even still yet undiscovered by most people!!! "Great" is around every corner, sometimes you just have to wear the right goggles! *wink

  2. I definitely agree. I think people need to maybe wake up one morning and reassess their "greats". The sad thing is, most people don't until something gives them due reason to reassess that "great." I try to live my life like a five year old, and let little things make me happy. I just held a butterfly for the first time a few days ago - that was great. When I see a double-rainbow, that's great. The fun thing about acting like that, too, is that it catches people's attention. They want to know why that crazy person is so darn happy, and then they want it for themselves. It spreads to more and more people, and eventually, maybe, we'll have a whole world of people who see "great" in little things.

    You're a regular philosopher, Mr. Emery. Keep on going.