Tell me if this sounds familiar: You moved in 2013 and in 2018 you’re still unpacking boxes of stuff you forgot you owned! Yeah, me too. It’s like Christmas! I got especially lucky in one box. I discovered a book. A book written by a narcissist.
It’d been almost twenty years since I cracked the cover of that book. Back then, I knew nothing about narcissism and had yet to identify the author as a narcissist. “I wonder,” said I to myself sitting down next to the battered U-Haul box, “if his narcissism is evident in his book.”
I was not disappointed. What follows are quotes from his book, with some commentary from me.
We get the first clue that all-is-not-well with the author in Chapter 3, first paragraph:
“Since the arrival…of our wonderful, beautiful,
lovable, and totally self-centered and demanding baby daughter…”
Just to be sure I wasn’t reading too much into this quote, I ran the “totally self-centered and demanding baby” thing past some Facebook friends. They were appalled. One particularly witty friend commented, “Well, what’s a baby supposed to be: a volunteer!?!” But apparently a baby’s survival mechanisms came as some kind of unpleasant shock to this narcissist.
Continuing on to Chapter 5, we find a story of how he was called into his boss’s office for dictating really crappy business letters:
“Didn’t you go to college?” [the Boss]
wrinkled up his nose inquisitively…
“Worked my way through and paid for every dime of it myself,”
I replied, feeling very self-satisfied.
With kudos to the author for being financially self-sufficient, I find it interesting how he both emphasizes his lack of school loans and finds it necessary to tell us exactly how he feels about it, “very self-satisfied.” Stop already! We get it!
He goes on to relate how his boss had received carbon copies of all his dictated letters and marked them up heavily with a red pen. The narcissist is ashamed but also angered by this describing it as “awful, terrible, embarrassing, humiliating and downright sneaky, too.”
Sneaky!?! Hardly. Just a good boss doing a good job. Instead of giving him the sack, his boss gives him a copy of Business Letters that Succeed so he can learn how to write an excellent business letter. The narcissist’s private thoughts and reaction are amazing!
“Just wait until I get home and
tell my wife about this!
She’ll agree with me
to use this miserable book
as fuel to start the barbecue
and that it’s time to drag out
Ye Olde Résumé for some fast action.”
Wow! No humility! No gratitude that he still has a job! No thankfulness for a boss who’s willing to make him a better employee. No! His initial reaction is to jump ship. Wow!
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Thankfully, the narcissist’s poor, long-suffering wife had a better head on her shoulders than him and her finger-on-the-pulse of 1980s mortgages and the high cost of food and gasoline. In his words…
“She wouldn’t even consider
my daring plan of jumping ship
to sail off to a new, more rewarding and
understanding…company, that would truly
value my skills and services.”
“Wow” is again all I’ve got. The ego of the man — which he confirms in Chapter 9 by referencing his “know-it-all pride.” No shit, buddy.
What I find most fascinating is his lack of self awareness in Chapter 14. There he refers to himself as a “light-hearted, quick-with-the-quip, humor-loving self.”
LOL. I just had to! Dobby smacking his head on the chest-of-drawers is how we feel about narcissists’ self-delusion. It brings to mind Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s memorable quote, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
Well, narcissist. I know light-hearted. Light-hearted is a friend of mine. Narcissist, you’re not light-hearted.
Quick-with-the-quip? Meh. More like smart-ass. In the annoying way, not the funny way. As says himself, he’s guilty of “thousands of quips, quotes and smart cracks.” Very true as his love of multiple adjectives, all beginning with the same letter of the alphabet and the same beginning letter of the noun they define is used so many times throughout the book I wanted to gag! There’s a consistent I’m-so-cute-funny-and-clever theme in the book.
Circling back to the “self-centered and demanding baby,” she makes her appearance again in Chapter 15 for her High School graduation party. In his words:
“If our guests thought they were going
to quickly get at the expensive ice cream cakes
we had announced as dessert,
they were sadly mistaken.”
Alrighty then! Not a party, apparently. It gets worse!
“The three of us had worked much too hard,
for too many years…we had a program planned
that hit the high points of our daughter’s
entire twelve-year educational history.”
Those poor guests! That poor girl! It wasn’t her graduation party. It was his chance to show off the magnificent education he had concocted, the intellectual edifice he had created. It had nothing to do with her, as his daughter, as a person. It had everything to do with him.
I can’t imagine what the guests thought, held hostage to his ego, an ice cream cake as their reward if they stayed the course, if they stuck it out through his hubris as he hearkened back twelve long bloody years.
Having insulted her as a baby, he takes one final pot shot on page 118.
“Which [present] do I start with?”
The bedazzled diploma bearer looked at me for guidance.
I’m thinking, twelve years of excellent private school education,
and I still have to make the tough decisions for her?!…
Eighteen years old and I still have to tell her
how to run her life properly.”
Thankfully for us (and for her) the book ends shortly thereafter. One can only imagine how his wife and daughter are still suffering.
It’s not often you get an insight into a narcissist’s internal world in their own words. I read his book…so you don’t have to! 😉