I've been thinking about this kid I went to elementary school with. I don't remember his name. He was super smart. The kind of kid who knew how to spell the word "people" way before anyone else. Nerd. So, one year on our last day of after-school we were going around the circle saying what we were going to do over the summer. We were all saying reasonable things for a bunch of 8-year-olds, like, "I'm going to summer camp." or "I'm going to eat Popsicles til my insides freeze." or "I'll be spending most of my days rubbing elbows with the heroin addicts of Coney Island while my father runs a dark ride there." You know. The usual. But this kid said, "I plan on reading all of Webster's Dictionary." Seriously. That's what he said. Come on. That's not a thing ANYONE does. Let alone an 8-year-old. Just knock it off, Whatsyername.
About seven years later I ran into him at Washington Square Park during the pot parade or whatever it's called. I hated smoking pot because it made my brain end up in a foetal position inside itself. Within a few minutes of smoking pot no matter where I am or who I'm with I'm convinced that I'll end up homeless in the gutter by the end of the day. But all my friends smoked and I was so desperate for friendship that I would have jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge if they did. Or, even if they had just told me to. It wasn't a time I look back on with any fondness. So, there I was in Washington Square Park, stoned out of my mind, trying to make it look like I didn't feel like my body was covered in ants, and Mr. Dictionary points at my shoes and says, "Haha. You double-knot your laces." I said, "Yeah," because I did. It was an accurate observation. I generally find double-knotting my shoelaces preferable to having to re-tie them all the time. It was less a fashion choice and more a decision of convenience and efficiency. I had missed the memo about shoelaces. Apparently the less they are tied the cooler you are. Mr. Dictionary had deduced that I was a nerd because I didn't want to deal with the annoyance of repeatedly re-tying my shoelaces. Like I said, he was SUPER smart.
For years I was embarrassed that I had double-knotted my laces that day. I just wanted to be cool. I could never get it right. And here was this really cool guy calling me out. I mean, he didnt look cool or anything but he knew the exact definition of the word, so he must have been cool. He read the dictionary. Even if he didn't make it all the way through, it's likely he at least got to "cool".
So, that's something about me. I let a kid whose summer activity when he was eight was reading a dictionary make me feel like a nerd because of an arbitrary fashion preference. I think about it almost every time I tie my shoes.