I read once that Oscar Wilde had something to say about how to judge people. He posited that "it is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."
I've found that in general he was right, and so in general I try to spend time around the charming people, and avoid the tedious ones. I save a lot of time that way. Every once in a while I wonder if perhaps my idea of charming is different than everyone else's, but I suppose that doesn't matter a whole lot.
I'd like to introduce a few people that I've run across in my life that have been charming. Today let's talk about Bill*.
Bill was a grad student (now an assistant professor, I think) (yes, across the country)** that taught a few of my sociology courses as an undergrad. Bill is of Greek descent, liked to watch movies and google whatever popped into his head during the middle of class, and told great stories. He found some time in the middle of all that to teach us a lot about culture and religion.
He's a scrawny guy, had black hair and a bushy beard and Buddy Holly glasses, your typical nerdy sociology grad student. He always wore these horrible pants- one pair was butter yellow and the other was baby blue- and a polo shirt, with old man sneakers.
When he was a young man, like somewhere between age 7 and 15, apparently his father took him to Greece to see the fatherland. While they were there his father decided that he (Bill) needed to be baptized, and hired some Greek Orthodox priest to do the deed in a local stream. The story goes that there he was, a geeky American kid, standing in a Greek stream in his shorts, about to be baptized, when a bus full of tourists drove up and stopped right there. He said he wanted to tell all the tourists that he wasn't an authentic Greek, but was too busy being dunked in the water to do so while the cameras pointed and clicked.
So many of his stories center around some humiliation or another (another time he was pulled over on his bike twice and fined for not having a headlight on after dark), and he told them with such indignance and obvious relish. I think that if it turned out none of those things ever happened to him, and that he was actually a compulsive liar, it would just add to his charm.
Everyone should be taught by a Bill at some point in their life. If you haven't yet, you need to start looking up classes to take at your local college. Go for a Master's, what the heck.
*I'll leave out last names, since these are all people I've known more or less in passing, and they might be creeped out to google themselves and find somebody they don't remember has been blogging about them.
**Oh, I feel sad now that I'm NOT using last names, because everyone should google Bill's name the way I just did. I got a huge belly laugh out of the different places he comes up on The Internet.