On Mediocrity 2 (Belated Post from Nights of Yore)

Here are some synonyms for mediocrity: Ordinary, average, middling, middle-of-the-road, uninspired, undistinguished, indifferent, unexceptional, unexciting, unremarkable, run-of-the-mill, pedestrian, prosaic, lackluster, forgettable, amateur, and, my personal favorite, amateurish. Not even good enough to be a full-on amateur! You got the -ish tagged on!

A man who weighed 500 pounds, lost 200, and is able to complete a marathon is not ordinary. A woman who won entry to the marathon but had a baby and couldn’t train but crosses the finish line anyway is not lackluster. These are exciting people doing exciting things. A woman who has ample time, a decent body, money to spare, education, and a somewhat athletic background who decides that watching “Netflix” is more important than getting in the miles and so runs about a 5-hour marathon is forgettable. A New Yorker of statistically average height and weight running a 50% AG time is, literally, middle of the road. This is me, and this is mediocre. There should be no hero’s welcome; I deserve no wall of sound! What I need is a real-life shit emoji to follow me around and threaten me with feces every time I drift from the path to greatness.

But can I be blamed, when mediocrity is the free side we’re served with every dish and drink? At work – which is seven hours straight of endless encounters with mediocrity (#union) – I had the audacity to suggest that a special education teacher’s schedule (and thus sanity) should be made a bit more balanced with the addition of an honors class in order to counter the, um, situations.

“Honors kids are the worst!” was the response I received from a person who makes a lot more money and decisions than I do. “They ask all these questions and want answers. And then they ask more questions.” Heaven forbid we have students so engaged with the content that they WANT TO KNOW MORE.

Even those buzzwords! “Engaged.” “Content.” I miss the days when “engaged” and “content” were adjectives. You know a word is on the way to its demise when policy makers put the accent on a different syllable and assign it a different part of speech. Can we no longer invent new words for new, wretched concepts? Do we need to repurpose? I know we have a lot of waste in this country, but I personally feel we should deal with the tangible waste before we go towards the linguistic waste, and if we are, in fact, starting linguistically, let’s commence with the word “ratchet,” which is a very common word whose etymology derives from a mother fucking mispronunciation.

And again! Mediocrity! Shall we consider ourselves too lazy to learn phonemes and morphology and how to break syllables and thus, on the most basic level, to read? Are we as a society complacent enough that we’re allowing our young minds to ruin words because we’re so mediocre at language arts instructions? I’m all for the youth of today going forth with neologisms or abbreviations, truncating and bebopping, but “ratchet” is just too much.

I was pondering a connected conclusion – you know, the kind that ties the randomness together, that “a-ha” moment. But that wouldn’t be lackluster. And in an essay on mediocrity, it didn’t seem to fit. Instead, I’ll just leave you with the fact that I got in the car to go right to the gym after school, but went left to the bank instead, where I realized I forgot my bank card, so I’m drinking rose.


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