“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”
– George Carlin
If your house is messier than mine is you are, ipso facto, a slob. Conversely, if my house is messier than yours then you are, by definition, a neat freak.
Whose definition? Mine of course!
I dare you (yes you, sitting in front of your computer there!) to tell me I’m wrong. I dare you to tell me that if it’s not cleaning, it’s music (Nothing but newfangled noise! A dirge from the dark ages!) or social skills (loudmouth chatterbox or wallflower), or (as George points out) driving.
Or religion. Oh how we (and I’m including myself here) love to silently evaluate the observance level of others against our internal standard for normalcy. And sometimes not so silently.
I would run across someone whose behavior or outward appearance betrayed what I saw as a deeper sense of religious devotion than mine, and it struck a nerve.
We visited a friend of a friend for a holiday meal, and out he came to greet us in a silk topcoat. “What’s he playing at?!?” I exclaimed in the car later. “Whose he trying to kid? I went to high school with the guy.”
My wife gently pointed out that this must be due to the fact that, having interacted with me in the past, that guy was obligated to remain the way I knew him?
Irrational competitive insecurity was – for me at least – at the heart of it. Why wasn’t MY observance good enough for the other guy? Why did they feel they had do more, to push the limit (compared to me)? Was it some weird game of holier-than-thou one-upmanship? How long do your curls have to get before the peyot police issue a side-burn citation?
If what I was doing wasn’t enough, who decided what was? Is there ever a limit? And if there isn’t, what’s the point?
What if started keeping kosher, only to find out there was MORE kosher to keep? If I decided to start being shomer Shabbat, and then found out there something else after that, what would help me decide where to stop.
Because some of us want to, you know, do it RIGHT.
And don’t tell me “there is no *right* there’s only *right for me* because those other guys seem to walk around with the confidence that says they darn well think _they’re_ doing it right.
So whose playbook are they working out of?