Saturday, 1 March 2014


My wife and I were talking about Stella the other day. Stella isn't her real name of course, but she is a real person. We come across her socially every now and then but don't know her well and don't even know her surname. A very casual and somewhat infrequent acquaintance.

Stella is gregarious and very chatty so everyone ends up chatting with her at some time or another. She even chats with us occasionally and we are not particularly gregarious - at least I'm not. But Stella is easily garrulous enough for two.

Yet she is pleasant, never spiteful about others and as harmless a body as one could wish to meet. Maybe rather dull if one is inclined to be a little unkind, which people hardly ever are with Stella.

The trouble is, there is a fly in Stella's ointment.

She only talks about herself and her personal situations. Usually at some length and in considerable detail. She might ask you where you live, but only as an intro for telling you where she lives and how she came to live there and what it's like living there and... and...

She might ask you about your holiday plans but only as an intro for telling you all about her own holidays in minute detail, including tales about people you've never met and never will meet. Yet she speaks of them as if you knew all about them and their holiday experiences and... and....

Yet we say Stella is a nice person and so she is, but the line she treads so well and with such delicacy is surely a fine one.


Sam Vega said...

This is interesting because we all know people like Stella; but what are we to make of them? Two possible options. The first is that we are all Stellas, and to exactly the same degree. We differ only to the extent that we disguise our self-obsession and mediate it via an interest in others. That "intro" bit she does - some people only ever let you see that, out of a sort of self-absorbed pride.

It might be, though, that we do differ as to how self-absorbed we are. The question is then one of whether this automatically stops Stella being a "nice person" at some point. Can we imagine a totally self-absorbed person - one who had no interest in us whatsoever - who we liked? Children, maybe. Or autistic prodigies, etc., but only seen from a distance. And then we are faced with the question of why this might be so. Are we so self-centred that such a person would be an affront to us?

J P Spaghetti said...

Stella (the poor love) sounds like a closet crack-head - how worn are her incisors?

A K Haart said...

Sam - "Can we imagine a totally self-absorbed person - one who had no interest in us whatsoever - who we liked?"

Celebrities? I'm sure we are all strongly self-absorbed, but many of us are genuinely interested in others in our search for social cues.

People such as Stella do not seem to search for social cues in the lives of people outside their inner circle.

JP - I've never been close enough to find out.

Demetrius said...

I have not been Swift enough to comment. Perhaps I am tosticated. Has she thought of keeping a journal?

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - a journal might work, but who would suggest it?