Comparing Myself to an NFL Football Player in Starbucks

17 Sep

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” -Siddhattha Gotama

I was sitting in Starbucks Monday morning with a book I was reading and a notebook I was writing in, kind of switching back and forth, when this Tom Brady-quarterback-looking guy in his late twenties or early thirties walks in oozing confidence all over the place. He walked up to an older couple and asked the man if he really went to Purdue or if he was just wearing a Purdue sweatshirt.

I’m not automatically sucked into all conversations around me, but when a guy strikes up a conversation with a stranger I’m drawn to the scene with great interest because of my own inability to do the same. It’s like the guy was performing a magic trick with his self-confidence and charm. I was in awe. Yes, the husband and wife both attended Purdue. The younger guy played football at Purdue and then on to the NFL. I didn’t recognize him and couldn’t determine if he still played or if he was injured or unwanted.

They talked for ten minutes. My mood dropped from a 7 to a 3 on the International 10 Point Mood Scale that I just made up. I compare myself to others all the time. I have no idea how common this nasty habit is. It’s common enough that there are articles about it, like this on at Zen Habits. It’s so automatic that I have no chance at stopping it. I compare looks, intelligence, social performance, and anything else I can gauge. If I see myself comparing favorably, I feel pretty good about myself, a temporary boost of self-confidence. Of course, if I “lose” in several categories all at once, like I did against Mr. Football, I feel like crap.

Actually, if a dirty, obese, ugly guy carrying an “I can learn to read” book comes into Starbucks (or that guy in the photo), I don’t really think Oh, I’m better than this guy; I just don’t give him much thought at all, so it’s not like I’m really comparing myself to every man I see. Thank God. But this football guy…

He sat down and the couple went to the counter and ordered their coffees and pastries. While waiting for their goods, the wife returned to Mr. Football and said “One more question: did you play for the Bears when they played in the Super Bowl?” He hadn’t. The couple went outside and sat under a sun umbrella.

Mr. Football was alone again, facing me, about 30 feet away. He was looking around the place holding his phone. We made eye contact. At that point, a socially ambitious football fan might have introduced themselves. Hi, I couldn’t help overhear that you played pro football. Blah, Blah, Blah. Me? My book was closed, the cap was on my pen and I was just sitting there planning my exit, pondering the dynamics of my neurosis. An innocent, non-event had turned my good mood to crap.

Then the husband walked back in and went over to Mr. Football. I was sitting there thinking Jesus, this guy’s a freaking magnet, a regular Pied Piper. Finally, the husband went back to his wife and Mr. Football left through the other door. Five minutes later I went out the same door and there he was sitting in a Mercedes. A Mercedes. Perfect.


6 Responses to “Comparing Myself to an NFL Football Player in Starbucks”

  1. 4eternalsunshine September 17, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    There was probably a poor guy in Starbucks, at the very same time you were there, comparing himself to you and you didn’t even notice that you were messing with his Mood Scale that day. I am sure it was just the icing on the cake for the poor guy when he saw you leave on that super-cool electric cargo bicycle thang! Just wait till you get old, it only get worse….

    • fightn4it September 18, 2010 at 8:05 am #

      I did have that bike but it was parked over at Dierbergs. Yeah, when I get old I’m hoping for some kind of enlightenment to take care of all these faulty ways of thinking.

  2. NurseWrachette September 18, 2010 at 4:24 am #

    Ahh my Dear Neurotic friend,

    While my comment compadre summed it up very well, there probably was some poor sap looking at you with your healthy, bike riding machismo and felt the self pity meter go off the scales. However did you pause to ask yourself after you posted your musings, “What schmuck walks up to a Older person and asks a rude question?” No doubt your sence of taste is what made your ears perk to the conversation. What a rude man to phrase that question thusly! Personally it sounds like he was looking for someone to brag to. He probably made the NFL draft as a hormone laden weenie and was dropped in the 2nd season. By the way I detest, no loath, no wait, HATE football. Thank God my husband does to! Kiss the girls for the strange lady in Nevada!! And have a vegan samie for me!!

    • fightn4it September 18, 2010 at 8:09 am #

      Thanks. That someone is looking at me with envy never occurs to me. It’s odd to even think about it. I do need to turn my thinking around.

  3. NurseWrachette September 19, 2010 at 12:23 am #

    I envy you, you have been given the gift of children! Not to mention the healthy sence to not eat meat! I can’t seem to do the same on all acounts!


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