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Friday, May 6, 2016

Boldly Going Nowhere

Thursday, December 18, 2003

A Pedantic Condescending Hermshot

This past summer, I started an on-line e-mail correspondence with a woman from my distant past that I had once admired but had never met. She had contacted me when a mutual friend sent her one of my newspaper columns. She's a bright, clever, interesting person and we seemed to hit it off.

Last month I mentioned in one of the e-mails that I had been busy that afternoon creating a syllabus for a new class I would be teaching during spring semester at Ozarka College. Being a thorough person, often overly descriptive, I included a list of many of the categories that made up the syllabus. I presumed it was an innocent enough note about my activities for that particular day and would be of mild interest to my new e-mail pal.

The following day I received a rather abrupt e-mail in return whereby my new e-mail pal made it clear she was well aware of what made up a syllabus; then referred to me as a "pedantic condescending hermshot." I didn't know if that was good or bad, but the entire e-mail, what little there was of it, had a tone of anger to it.

Being a fairly normal male humanoid trapped on a planet half populated by human beings of the female persuasion, many of whom tend to be slightly ditsy on occasion for no particular reason, my first reaction had to do with the possibility of a chemical imbalance and/or hormonal disturbance.

Next I checked the original e-mail message I sent her to see where I went wrong but remained baffled. It seemed harmless to me. I looked up the word "pedantic" in the dictionary. It means "too narrowly concerned with scholarly matters" or being overly scholastic. Since I didn't know what the word meant in the first place, it was clearly proof that I wasn't pedantic after all. I also looked up the word "hermshot" but couldn't find it. Perhaps it was a new slang term and I just wasn't hip enough to pick it up.

So I wrote an e-mail back explaining that my vocabulary didn't include the word "pedantic," thereby eliminating it as a proper adjective to use when describing me. I also stated that I couldn't find the word "hermshot" in my dictionary and would kindly like an explanation of the entire phrase.

The next day I received an e-mail, much more relaxed in tone, explaining that she had been angry at the entire male species the day she wrote the original e-mail and that her cat often prances across her keyboard when she's typing a note. She went on to explain that she meant to call me a "pedantic condescending hotshot," but the cat must have messed up the last word in the phrase, hence the word "hermshot."

What a relief. Here I was all in a dither over being called a pedantic condescending hermshot when there was such a reasonably logical explanation. It all made perfect sense. I was being punished for being a member of the male species and a cat had written part of the note. It was all so obvious I was almost embarrassed I didn't figure it out in the first place.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized she was really paying me a compliment. Pedantic means scholarly, condescending implies a position of superiority and a hotshot is someone who is talented. She was basically telling me that I was a learned superior talent. But rather than convey her true feelings, she snarled at me in a pedantic and condescending manner. She may have been snarling on the surface, but subconsciously she was subtly implying that she admired my scholarly talents and distinct superiority.

As soon as I figured out the dynamics of her subconscious thought process, it became apparent how deeply she felt about me. A pedantic condescending hermshot indeed.

It's not every day I receive such lavish praise. She's clearly attracted to me but unable to express it properly, probably in fear of rejection.

Then again, perhaps an angry snarl is just an angry snarl.