Earlier today, while approaching the Stop ‘n’ Shop, I dropped a couple of coins in the Salvation Army tin.
“Hey,” said the bell ringer, “I know you!”
“You do?” I said.
“Yeah!” he replied. “You were on TV talking about the 1986 Mets.”
“Ha,” I said. “That was probably me.”
“Man,” he said. “I love what you have to say about that team!”
“Thanks, I appreciate that,” I said—before walking off.
In those ensuing seconds, I felt great. Amazing. Fantastic. Dazzling. I know I’m not supposed to admit such things; that we’re supposed to act all cool and behave as if ego doesn’t come into play. But, well, it does come into play. Hell, we all have egos. It’s why I’ve Googled myself; looked for my name on Twitter once or, ahem, twice. Most everyone I know has an ego—but, admittedly, writers probably have bigger egos than average. Not sure why, come to think of it. I can’t dress, I smell like salsa and I’ve got a big nose and a wart on my right wrist. Still—ego exists. I admit it.
The thing is, as I continued my shopping, the ego boost from the Salvation Army guy quickly faded. It wasn’t like he recognized my skill; my abilities; my talent. It wasn’t like he loved one of my books, or an article. No, he knew who I was because he saw my fugly face on the glowing box, and that excited him. Which is swell—but an eternally puzzling reason for people to become conceited.
And yet … ego is the greatest pull in sports media. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know a good number of writers who left print for TV because (though they’ll deny this) the money is better and the cheap tug of airport recognition (“Hey, aren’t you …”) is tough to ignore. I’ve never had sex with a hooker, but I’m guessing it’s similar—rush of emotion and oomph in the moment, shallow emptiness later.
Anyhow, just my morning thoughts.