They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. No, really… “they” do, and there really are “theys” involved in this all the way back to Marcus Aurelius. The thing is, these “theys” fail to add the caveat that it only works for a little while, or worst case scenario, the person is doing it right.
I’ve been know to be a smidge particular about certain things. For example, I can rock a lisp like nobodies business, but there is a time and a place for everything, and doing it all the time, especially when you don’t actually have a speech impediment, is just annoying. (And rude, yes, I said it: rude.) So too, does another ability of mine, speaking like a gangsta wannabe like so many white people before me. “Yo, dawg, what up?” Oh, I can go there, complete with the head waggle, swagger, dropped shoulder and fist bump. Sometimes I even break into a Ray Charles- or Stevie Wonder-like rock back and forth when listening (and singing) to the groove of Motown. Yes, I realize that if I do it, it looks ridiculous. Yes, getting people to laugh at these antics is entirely my point. However, I will repeat, there is a time and a place for everything and it involves timing.
Timing is everything. Having a good sense of timing keeps you from getting T-boned at an intersection when driving. Having good timing prevents you from getting hit by a bus when crossing the street (it also helps to look up from your smartphone). Good timing is also essential in making the difference between getting people to laugh or having them shift uncomfortably as they silently request, “Stop. Please, stop. For the love of all that is holy and pure…. STOP!”
I like to think I’ve a well-honed sense of timing, as when I have broken out my lisp or gangsta, everyone laughs a good laugh and doesn’t shift uncomfortably. I refrain from performing these little sideshows all the time because: timing is everything. If I did it all the time, people would get sick of it fast and would probably begin their distressed adjusting with wishes that I’d not look up from my smartphone as I crossed the street in front of an oncoming bus.
Okay, perhaps that was a bit harsh.
This whole train of thought came about because I have an imitator. A mimic. A follower. It was funny for the first week, but now we’re going on two months now and it’s no longer funny, just increasingly annoying. If this person actually imitated me well, perhaps I’d be a little less annoyed, but they aren’t good at it. And their timing sucks; it sucks like a Shop-Vac (no slight against Shop Vac intended, I own one, it does a great job as a super duty vacuum).
Now, my attempts to lighten the mood around an office that had a pall of gloom over it when I first came on board have turned against me and I feel as if I’m responsible for creating some sort of “Personality Frankenstein”. Of course, that’s silly… I mean, who would want to have a personality cobbled together with pieces of everyone other than their self? Then again, do we all suffer from this same affliction? I’m not sure I feel that is the case. There are similarities and mannerisms that may match up easily with family members or friends, but I truly feel that my personality is mine, I own it. I feel most everyone I know has their own personality, that it’s an intangible “fingerprint”, if you will, of Them.
I also feel that this topic needs a bottle of wine and a campfire for discussion to really hash it all out, don’t you? Sadly, it’s entirely too early for a bottle of wine and I have to leave for work in the not too distant future. (Is drinking wine at 6 AM frowned upon?)
So, nearly every day for the the last few months, I’ve sat next to someone who has every appearance of being a Personality Frankenstein, and they aren’t going to give that up anytime soon. So, what does that mean for me? It means that I will have to put a lid on my own Self, my personality, to keep it from influencing theirs, or I keep calm and carry on. Do my thing. Get my groove on. Walk and dance to my own music without concern that Personality Frankenstein is going to pick up on another ability I possess and stay my voice when I want to say, “You’re doing it wrong and your timing sucks!”
Thankfully, I don’t believe this started with me; I’m not the Dr. Frankenstein in this story, perhaps a surrogate, but not the original. And I’m not in Bavaria.
And I just realized that it’s the day after Halloween which had nothing to do with why this topic came to mind. How curious.
Do you have a Personality Frankenstein in your midst?
Do you have a personal mimic who is an adult?
How do you handle dealing with an adult who imitates you?
You made me laugh throughout the entire post! I myself can do all sorts of accents beautifully, Scottish, French, Russian, you name it and I am all over it. I believe we all are products of our environment – we all take on something (sometimes a lot, sometimes a little) of those we spend time with. And for the most part I don’t mind, it is in fact flattery when someone takes from my personality, but BUT there are some folk who absolutely drive me CRAZY and make me want to physically harm them when they commit a “personality Frankenstein” on me.
Is it perhaps that they’re own personality sucks that drive us mad when they steal?
Or. Is it that they are reflecting something back to us about ourselves that we don’t necessarily like?
Hmmmm, nah, it’s because they suck.
HA! Thank you and, I am with you on the belief that we all steal/borrow a bit from other’s when it comes to personality, however, I see that “personality Frankenstein” stuff more with children who are still growing, learning and developing their own personas, not necessarily adults. As adults, I’d like to think that we have reached a point of some what gelatin-like consistency with who we are; it may shift and jiggle a bit but usually bounces right back to it’s original form. The adult “Personality Frankenstein” seems to stay awry much longer than the average adult would, or should for that matter.
And I LOVE being able to pick up new accents! British and Irish I can do as well as an American South, but I haven’t spent too much time speaking with native speakers of other locales for me to say I’ve gotten down an accent of say, Croatian, with any passability.