Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 68byrpsuch©
"I don't know if I saw something or not, Jeff. I just felt something. It might have been a look in his eyes or a tone of voice when he said that, but I just felt there was an implied after I get rid of that interloper when he talked about taking me under his wing."
"Maybe you're just not used to him giving in or handing out credit."
"It could be. It's really difficult to quantify intangibles."
Jeff gave me a look. "You're playing around with words," he said in a sing-song tone.
I place my left hand at the top of my chest and affected my finest southern belle. "Li'l ole me?"
"Little old you."
"I don't know, maybe he did get something back to satisfy himself. He said we had limited the number of extended family members we invited so we could probably avoid creating resentment by inviting them all.
"I didn't say anything because I didn't want to jeopardize the big win. But, really, they're inviting eighteen hundred people initially and that's because they're trying to keep the list down? Talk about needing a dose of reality."
"You did a remarkable job, Ash."
"Thank you. I think they decided to invite the poor side of the family."
"I didn't know there was a poor side. Are they the ones who can't afford a Kelly?"
"I'm in awe. Okay, you read Jennifer Weiner. That was impressive. But Sophie Kinsella? Really? What's your favorite movie, Beaches?"
"I liked Beaches; not as much as The Princess Bride, which you already know. Almost everybody wants to see the guy get the girl or the girl get the guy. Deep down we're all romantic. Besides, all men like some romance film or another."
He rose to the challenge. "Secretary."
He wasn't entirely wrong. I gave him a look anyway.
"Sophie Kinsella is what surprised you? I started with Can You Keep a Secret and I had to read more. I love her sense of humor. Then I read The Undomestic Goddess and four of the Shopaholic series."
"Secretary," I said with scorn.
"It's a love story."
"Yes, barely is how they were in love."
"Barely is how they were dressed."
He was such a smartass and I loved smartass as much as he did.
So he was impressed with my handling of my father and I was impressed by the breadth of things that interested him.
It wasn't long before Jeff slipped back into his overworking habit. I could ask him to remember I told him to remember asking him, but repeated use of that strategy was likely to produce rapidly diminishing results.
How could I get him to change? After I considered quite a few options it occurred to me I needed to understand why he was drawn to overworking. If I understood it, I might be able to devise an approach to cure him of the need to overwork.
It occurred to me this was similar to Jeff looking for antidotes to diseases, though not nearly as complex, I hoped.
Jeff didn't seem to have performance issues. I had no sense that when he did something he had to be the best. He just seemed to want what he did to be effective. If it didn't work, he would try something else.
So if he didn't need to excel, it had to be something else. Did he feel the additional preparation made him more able to improvise? Did it have anything to do with performance at all? I'd never seen him attempt anything he couldn't accomplish.
Then I thought back to something he had said at Thanksgiving: I, in particular, have been blessed with so many gifts it seems unfair for one person to get them. I hope I can live up to the responsibility that comes with it. Did Jeff feel he did not deserve his remarkable intelligence? Did he feel that only by working with it constantly could he atone for the undeserved luck thrust upon him? I thought we'd had that conversation, but maybe I only thought it.
Perhaps we did have the conversation, but it had not been enough to outweigh the belief he hadn't done anything more to deserve it than I had to deserve my beauty.
If that was the problem there would not be an easy solution. The subconscious doesn't easily recover from twenty years of messages of unworthiness.
Now that I thought of it I might be suffering from the same problem. It was probably the reason I had so much trouble believing all the complimentary things the Goldbergs said about me. The only messages I used to get were wealth and beauty, not that they were terrible things. But I did no more to earn them than Jeff did his intelligence.
So, how do you combat subconscious feelings of unworthiness? I think the Freudian Theory is you make them conscious; you confront them. Then what?
Surely it is not that easy.