The Perfect People

Can you see yourself as others see you? Probably not completely, but if you have a few good friends that provide honest feedback, you’ll probably be okay — if you listen to them.

Unfortunately, quite a few people don’t listen, are not interested in listening, and aren’t even aware that they should listen. These are the Perfect People. They walk directly in front of you at an event and unapologetically block your view, talk over you, let their kids run wild in restaurants, use coarse language regardless of the sensibilities of their audience, and in general go through life as though nothing matters but their own desires.

One of the most common symptoms of a Perfect Person is that they always talk about themselves, but ask nothing about you. Well, sometimes they do throw out a perfunctory how’s it going? as a greeting, but when you start to answer they ignore you and steer the conversation back to whatever interests them, which is typically… them. (If you’re a good listener and can tolerate being ignored, you will collect Perfect People like lint.)

And woe be to you if you should inadvertently do any little thing that a Perfect Person doesn’t like, for they will be highly offended, typically expressing their displeasure with melodramatic anger punctuated by vulgar words and gestures. That’s because, in the view of a Perfect Person, polite manners are only required to travel in one direction, from others to them.

In my short novel Purgatory I approach the topic of self-centered behavior obliquely, embedding it in an offbeat mystery with a twilight-zone tinge, capped with a revelatory surprise at the end. If you decide to read it — particularly if you’ve had to endure Perfect People — I think you’ll find the ending quite satisfying.