Staying Classy

After (and even during) my post on class yesterday, I was struck by a few things.

1. I sometimes don’t even know where my thoughts are going to end up. I had begun writing that post really thinking I was setting out to blast low-class, boorish people. On the drive to work yesterday I was slowly coming up behind a car on the highway and I couldn’t tell what it was; something about the taillights mystified me and I could only tell it was either a very nice car or a crap car masquerading as a good one. Turns out it used to be a fairly classy Audi. When I got closer, the source of my confusion was revealed. Because I’m a little colorblind, I couldn’t distinguish the dark green paint from the blacked-out treatment on the taillights. A safety item, and the knucklehead driving has obscured them presumably to look “balla“. The limo tinted windows, gaudy chrome wheels, and additional blacking out of the headlights just cemented my judgment. Blacked out taillights are tacky enough, but the headlights just sent me over the edge on a desire to rant about the stupidity of looking cool at the expense of actually being able to see the road. I wanted to lump him in with the chowderheads that buy blue headlights for their cars rather than real HIDs, or put dollar store “fart can” exhausts and budget rear wings from Auto Zone on their Honda Civics without doing any actual performance gaining work to the car. I wanted to grab them all by their collective throats and demand if they do something then they do it right and quit doing a half-assed job of it. (“Half-assed” is in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, incidentally.) I couldn’t fathom how somebody could have the taste to buy a current generation A4, and then so tastelessly adorn it, and I wanted to demand the driver give a better showing of himself.

2. A few years back (2006, I’d guess) I was having a discussion with my Mom where I tried to claim there was a real difference between working on a Ducati and enjoying a pint of a microbrew, vs. wrenching on a Harley and swilling a bunch of Bud Light. I don’t recall my Mom’s exact rebuttal, but it was something along the lines of, “No, there’s not.” What’s interesting now is I think we were both right. See, I think simply boiled it down to both situations involving an alcohol-imbibing mechanic. My focus was on the self-control of just one beer, enjoying a craft beer rather than mass-market yellow water, and the mentality of precision work for the Italian bike over celebrating the simplicity of American iron and just hitting it with a hammer until it works. In other words, Mom doesn’t like beer drinking regardless of it’s label, and I was being a snob.

3. Here’s the biggest thing about a post like I wrote yesterday, or what I’ve written in the past about fostering excellence: I have to live up to it, myself. Yeah, I write these essays or thoughts out for anyone who cares to read them, but my real purpose is writing these things down for me. See, I’ve got no right to demand anything of anyone unless I’m meeting the standard I set first. (Even then, I know, I still don’t have the right to demand anything of anyone. Hush. I’m making a point.) So I’m constantly working to strike a balance in the tone of what I write, because it’s a public reminder to myself of what I believe I should be setting out to achieve and type of man I should be but I also need to serve a public audience so anyone can establish a bearing for the type of character they get out of my writing. I would type “I think” a whole lot more in what I write, but because it’s my blog they’re already my thoughts and I don’t want to dilute the decisiveness of my convictions by two words of hedging my bets. All that so say: nothing I type on this blog is a command for your behavior, it’s a demand of mine.

4. I didn’t expect a fourth point here, but I think that’s why I softened a bit at the end of yesterday’s post and began exhorting the reader to aspire to excellence rather than blast them for not being good enough. Because let’s face it, gentle reader, there are more than enough sources of denigration, tearing down, and voices saying “you can’t” in the world. Society is full of monkeys that will keep you from reaching for the banana, whether they’ve been hit with the water hose or not. To quote Antonio Banderas’ character in Desperado, “It’s easier to destroy than to create.” In typing out my thoughts on class, I realized my original mindset was actually quite petulant and I wasn’t living up to what I was demanding of others. Sure, maybe I had the external appearances of good taste, but the content of my character was sorely lacking and further negativity wasn’t going to advance anybody. Any good post, in my humble opinion, needs a dense of denouement or catharsis and that means griping should not and cannot be an end unto itself. Not in my writing. So I choose to answer my own challenge, and do the very best I can to encourage, build up, and say “you can”. Because I can. And if I can, so can you. It doesn’t even matter what the goal is, the point of an obstacle is to be overcome, and deep down I honestly believe we can accomplish whatever we set our minds to. I’m not going to let the small, petty man that lives inside me overcome my optimism and hard work. I choose to pursue excellence, good character, and be a classy guy. And I hope to inspire others to do that same.

Stay classy.

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