Here I sit in a luxurious armchair, swirling my snifter of brandy and racking my brain for new applications of tweed. This is my metaphorical Den of Intellectual Elitism. Could I call it intellectual “snobbery”? Yes, but that would defeat the whole point of this essay.
Please remove your shoes and all traces of the words “rolled” or “beat” from your vocabulary. Turn off your cell phone and the latest episode of The Bachelor. Kindly refrain from smoking and discussing positively anything you read on UpWorthy.
As a minor who has never held a job, been in a serious relationship, or paid rent, I reserve the right to judge everyone for their guilty pleasures. Oh, you had a day of back-breaking work at the local Dairy Queen and just want to sit on your couch and drown your sorrows with a bottomless bag of sweet potato chips and the latest YA novel, Something Supernatural, a Predictable Love Triangle and Plenty of Emotions Coded Through Hair Flips? Tough luck, because this is your prime time to study the geopolitical layout of Syria.
Not that you can be blamed indulging yourself, because if you’re really working at a Dairy Queen, it is likely that you’re from the Midwest, and that will get you an automatic boot from the Den, also known by its acronym, DIE. Because what is intellectual elitism if not making vast generalizations about entire swaths of the country?
DIE members traditionally get their start at a young age. In my case, it was second grade, when I read Little Women. Thinking she could throw a wet blanket on my ego by plunking a 19th-century bildungsroman on my desk, my teacher was the original enabler. I stormed through the novel, hating every line of it. When Beth kicked the can, I clapped. I probably should’ve warned you to that enormous plot twist with some sort of token “Spoiler Alert,” but I’m sincerely hoping it will discourage you from experiencing the book.
But, following my completion of the novel, I told every person I knew that I’d read it. Even the man who served me hot chocolate at the local bakery knew my convictions about how similar Jo and I were (hint: we’re both into vengeance). As a matter of fact, I think I might have listed it as my favorite book on my Marlborough application. Sorry, Mrs. Woo-Chitjian. I wasn’t broadcasting my latest literary encounter because I’d enjoyed it on any level but because I thought that it made me seem ‘gifted.’
This trend ticked upward throughout my young life, peaking with the two-part gift of HBO and Vanity Fair subscriptions. At every turn, when someone offered me a People magazine, I rejected it. I developed poor eyesight from squinting down my nose at my lesser-evolved classmates. Who were they, those lilliputian peasants who hadn’t known the ecstatic joys of Game of Thrones or panted longingly after Graydon Carter? The answer that sprang to mind every time I clicked on to HBOGo or flipped open a new issue of Vanity Fair was: No one. I am superior. Evil laugh sold separately.
Now, here’s the tricky part about the DIE. Who should be the tastemakers for this exclusive society? Maybe the New York Times? But wait, they published a human interest story; we better revoke their monogrammed club jacket. Or, hey, what about Jesse Eisenberg? Nah, he did Now You See Me, which is grounds for expulsion and frankly a good head-kicking. Who among us is wise enough to lead a group of fatuous schmucks through the ins and outs of being better than everyone else?
Probably only me. So don’t let the door hit you on your way out.