Archived Story

So what if I’m pretentious?

Published 10:57am Saturday, July 6, 2013

During a phone conversation earlier this past week, one of my friends called me hoity-toity.

I had been going on and on to Larry, because that’s his first name, about an upcoming 50 percent sale of movies from the Criterion Collection at a well-known bookseller.

Next week’s paycheck hasn’t arrived and already I’ve got it marked for things other than the trivialities of rent and utilities. Eh.

That didn’t merit the comment so much as my description of one choice, the director Marcel Camus’s “Black Orpheus.”

This is a 1959 retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice story from Greek mythology, except the film’s setting is Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro. Having seen it before, I described in detail the opening, and declared that alone is worth seeing the film.

There’s where the mocking took place. Even over my cell phone I could hear Larry’s eyes roll as he said, “You’re so hoity-toity.”

I replied, “Hoity-toity? What’s that? Is that like artsy-fartsy?”

Larry: “No, and I hate that term.”

Me: “So do I, but what does hoity-toity mean?”

That’s when he used the P-word: pretentious.

In my American Heritage College Dictionary, the term hoity-toity is defined as: 1. “Pretentiously self-important; pompous. 2. Given to frivolity or silliness.”

Whereas pretentious is defined as: 1. Claiming or demanding a position of distinction or merit, especially when unjustified. 2. Outwardly extravagant; ostentatious.

Not two paragraphs into this column and I see I’ve already affirmed my friend’s teasing.

I am nothing if not pretentious …or hoity-toity. Take your pick.

But that’s really no big deal for me. In my defense, my goal isn’t to put people down who haven’t seen the films I’ve seen. Rather, the hope is that my enthusiasm for movies becomes contagious enough for others to seek them out.

I put it to you, is that so wrong?

I’ll bet you likely have a passion for a hobby, a sport or a political cause that likewise gets family and friends to think, “Oh, brother. Here (s)he goes again with that thing. Give it a rest.”

The key to sharing one’s interests with others is to invite them in, but not bully or demean when no one else shares your enthusiasm.

Would that the religious right of any faith or extremists in politics could do the same.

Just ask those people in Egypt.

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