A former friend once accused me of having an unsophisticated palate. It’s not the reason we’re no longer friends — that’s a whole other story — but her comment never left me. Not because it was hurtful but because, according to certain standards, it was true.
Using similar criteria, I suppose I’m guilty of a lack of sophistication in quite a few areas. I never developed a high appreciation for art, music or poetry. At least not the sort that would be considered valuable or cultured. And telling the difference between an authentic Louis XVI armoire and a decent knockoff is something I couldn’t do if you held a gun to my head. Same thing goes for designer clothes.
While I admire folks who educate themselves in these matters, I’ve never had the desire to devote my own energies to such things. I suppose it would be nice to possess that sort of knowledge but, to be honest, I pretty much hate the learning process. I’d just as soon magically know stuff…like through osmosis. That might be because my attention deficit makes it so challenging to digest information, or it could just be that my lazy nature lends itself more easily to that which requires little effort. Regardless, the whole osmosis thing hasn’t worked, so I tend to consider myself a bit of a simpleton, and I’ve spent the majority of my life worrying about being harshly judged by others. I’m not exactly a cretin – I mean, I’m intelligent enough to walk to my mailbox without stopping to ask for directions – but my depth of edification leaves a lot to be desired. Knowing I don’t necessarily measure up when it comes to being refined has always left me feeling insignificant and out of touch.
That doesn’t mean I’ve kept myself hidden away in the shadows. The majority of my jobs actually required that I be front and center, and I somehow managed to choreograph my way through working with the public without coming across as the village idiot. I even had someone once compliment me on my ability to finesse. It was a nice thing to say, but I knew what she really meant was I was rather adept at the art of BS. And she wasn’t wrong. Dealing with individuals from all walks of life requires a certain level of savoir faire and, for whatever reason, that seemed to come naturally to me. Still does most of the time. As an introvert, maintaining that persona can be tiring, but it’s doable. Even so, the back of my mind never lost that pesky notion that suggested I was somehow less than.
I’ll never forget a coworker’s surprise when he found out my highest level of education was a high school diploma. When he said I didn’t sound like someone who hadn’t gone to college, my snarky comeback was, “So, in other words, you’re saying I talk good?” He turned red, tried to eat his words and we both had a good laugh. But it served as a reminder to me that people might think something was missing in my general makeup because my horizons hadn’t been particularly broadened.
I’ve had a lot of come to Jesus talks with myself over the years, and the most recent have involved letting go of thoughts that do me more harm than good. Like thinking I’m not worthy because I was never schooled in haute cuisine, upscale fashion or fine arts. My comfort zone has always been more in the neighborhood of Kool-Aid wine, blue jeans and classic rock. (70’s…not 80’s. I do have standards.) When it comes to a posh lifestyle, it’s just not my thing. A higher price tag doesn’t necessarily dictate worth to me. I simply like what I like. If it’s pleasing to my eyes, ears or palate, it doesn’t matter what value someone else might place on it. My idea of the finer things in life are experiences that speak to me on more of a gut level than an intellectual one.
It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally stopped dwelling on the fact that I will never be a connoisseur of anything. There are probably those who think I missed out on the greater gifts in life by not pursuing further education – formal or otherwise – but, when it comes to what’s truly important to me, there’s nothing lacking in my little world. I hold no envy toward those who enjoy sipping fine wine on their snazzy yachts, and they don’t need to pity me for savoring a local sweet red while swaying in my creaky old porch swing. It’s actually quite fulfilling. Shoot, sometimes I even get a little fancy, raise the bar, and throw in a couple of cheese sticks.
What can I say? Happy is as happy does.