I’m narcissistic. I spoon into it from time to time along with the banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery. When I hear a story, I think of how it applies to me. Me. Me. Me. I certainly don’t wallop myself over it because it rarely becomes exclusionary of others. Egoistic behavior comes with the territory, really, of being such a neurotic woman hot-dogging for attention. It comes with being introspective, which means, narcissism comes with my writing too. It’s a combo meal.
Freud would argue introversion is a requisite to narcissism. But when you’re dining with a little too much introversion on your plate, the meal quickly becomes a bountiful feast of narcissism. It’s like ordering commitment but asking for the monogamy on the side. It just doesn’t work that way.
What the hell is she talking about now?
Recently, I was told I’m too social. “Too social, too sceney” was said in reference to me in a voice reserved for nefarious things, like canned chicken (who in God’s name eats canned chicken?). I’m an introvert! I habitually concentrate on myself rather than outside objects. Extroverts have the converse preference. I have a blog all about me with a category dedicated to introspection for chrissake.
People see what they want to see. Oftentimes people confuse hermitic behavior with introversion and believe because I explore Manhattan behind a lens at lovely locales, I’m extroverted. Well you’re wrong, so blow me. Few things are more appealing to me than a night inside wearing socks and you.
Dani Shapiro told me people saw what they wanted to see in her writing. At one of her readings, a fan approached, lightly touching her on the arm to say, “Thank You.” Dani smiled when she recounted the story, the way I imagined she had to the reader, revealing a perfectly aligned white stack of teeth. “Thank you for writing the lamb scene; it changed my life.” I imagined the reader to be a phlegmatic woman who on occasion got roused into a breathy exaggerated frenzy. “It changed my life,” she’d say as if she’d just climbed Olympus.
“Stephanie, for the life of me, I had no idea what the woman was talking about. The lamb scene? So I thanked her for saying so, and she thanked me, and I thanked her, and then I got dizzy, went home, and opened my book scouring the pages for a lamb scene. I finally found it. I didn’t remember it because the point of the scene wasn’t what we were eating, but of course the reader believed I was communicating ideas about sacrifice.”
“Gotta love how readers make us smarter than we ever imagined.”
It happens to me all the time. I’m constantly amazed, for example, the perceived reasons of my naming this blog Greek Tragedy. Insert some line about Narcissus and a pool of water *here.* People see what they want to see… especially introverts who’ve got medals on mantles for suspecting everything is about them. Get over yourself! Or, pull up a chair next to me; I have the best view.