Sunday, March 1, 2009

Oh, thank God for the Sunday Styles Section !@$#!

I guess I didn’t need another indicator of the ironclad stagnation of my career progression. Still, there is no adulation like self-flagellation. Enter the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times. My favorite is the “Vows” section as each couple tries to outdo one another to become New York’s next big mega-merger:

“The groom has a PhD from M.I.T and is a senior consultant with The Magnanimous Group, a New York based private equity firm. He has completed the New York City marathon 3,867 times. The bride is the chief surgeon of all major tri-state hospitals. While simultaneously graduating from Yale and Harvard, she invented the human lung. She completed her doctorate while walking across the surface of the English Channel carrying a wounded lamb in her healing hands.”

Okay, so I’m jealous that these people are blessed with the holy trinity of youth, success and recognition. If I’d had one of these write-ups on my wedding day, the man they’d describe would be pretty damn unremarkable. “The groom works anonymously in middle management and has written a novel that is not getting published. He plans to continue working, progressing laterally and writing more unpublishable novels. Actually, he may or may not continue writing unpublishable novels. But he will continue working laterally, though.”

The Sunday Styles section also features a kind of kaleidoscopic array of pictures taken of attendees at big name black tie events. Last Sunday, there were a slew of pictures from an event ironically named ‘Hedge Funds Care’ (shouldn’t that name have a tail tag like ‘…no, really we do’). Among these pictures, I saw a guy I worked for years ago when he was a partner for Arthur Andersen and I was a drone fresh from college. I recalled this guy as being the type of man everyone thought I was going to turn out to be – brash, smart, confident, energetic, decisive, and relentlessly successful. I even envisioned myself this way when I caddied during college. Rich men at the country club that employed me used to say I was destined for big things (each proponed that he was a great judge of character).

A few years into working for this schmuck from the styles section, I realized that I was not destined for The Magnanimous Club. I was learning that I lacked a lot of core competencies that seem vital for success. Maybe I also learned that lacking those things might not be a bad thing.


  1. Please forward me the name of the physician who invented the human lung (excellent, by the way). I have a few recommendations for the next model.

    Perhaps someday being a mensch and a decent person will someday be regarded as a core competency by the Times Style Section.

  2. David Brooks had attacked the 'Vows' section long before I came up with the above. Acoording to him, what was once a who's who of high society has become a trophy case for the educated/achievement classes. Bobo's in Paradise I think it was.

  3. Oy - I feel about these "pages" like I do about my college newletter - they are a virtual hairshirt for those of us of prone to feelings of inadequacy and unrealized "potential"