Words by Alexander Thomson
I am an excellent braggart; ask any of my remaining friends. Nobody can compare with me in this area—trust me, when it comes to all things braggadocious, I truly am a guru. You must not think of me as presumptuous, however; although I do enjoy gazing reverently and affectingly upon the gentle, sloping contours of my face when they grace a mirror, I am not a self-centered person—I simply take pride in my achievements. I am not one to brag with crude brusqueness; rather, I prefer to comport myself in a far more covert and subtle manner. I am ahumblebraggart: a creature which masks an intense need for self-validation underneath a gossamer cloak of false modesty, self-effacement, and seemingly reluctant gestures towards self-aggrandizement. I have perfected this coy decorum over the years, and I am here to instruct you in the ostentatious Way of the Brag. From my vanity to yours, it is my hope (and requirement for my self-image) that you find these brief lessons to be of great and unending utility.
LESSON 1: FRAME YOUR SUCCESS AS A DILEMMA.
Because there is nobody more annoying than somebody who exults conspicuously over his or her good fortunes, you will want to posit your successes as failures. Trust me, this will not be twice as annoying—and it definitely will not make you seem like an ungrateful jerk. Simply find a way to infuse your accomplishments with negativity and then sit back and watch the notes of congratulations and pity roll in.
EX. “UGH, JUST SPENT TWO PAINFUL HOURS IN A PARIS CAFE WITH NO WI-FI. #SUMMERBREAK”
EX. “WHY DID MY PARENTS HAVE TO BUY ME A RED PORSCHE?! THE COPS PULL ME OVER FOR SPEEDING NO MATTER WHAT! WHY CAN’T I HAVE A RAMSHACKLE COROLLA OR AN OLD VOLVO LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE?”
SUBTLETY RATING: 2/10 NOTE: OVERUSE COMES WITH SLIGHT RISK OF APPEARING NOT UNLIKE AN “UNGRATEFUL JERK.”
LESSON 2: PRECEDE STATEMENTS OF BRAGGING WITH “I DON’T MEAN TO BRAG.”
The most versatile tool in the bragging toolbox, “I don’t mean to brag” is an easily employed locution which is sure to throw brag-sniffing dogs wildly off your trail; preemptive defenses against possible accusations are, after all, usually never suspect.
EX. “I DON’T MEAN TO BRAG, BUT WHEN I GOT AN ‘A’ IN PSYCHOLOGY WITHOUT EVER GOING TO CLASS…”
EX. “I DON’T MEAN TO BRAG, BUT WHEN I WAS THE ONLY MEMBER OF MY FRATERNITY TO MAKE THE DEAN’S LIST…”
SUBTLETY RATING: 1/10 NOTE: DO NOT USE MORE THAN ONCE PER CONVERSATION.
LESSON 3: COUPLE YOUR SINCERE NOTE OF EXULTATION WITH EXTRANEOUS INFORMATION INTENDED TO PUFF YOURSELF UP EVEN FURTHER.
Being proud of your accomplishments is one thing, but using those accomplishments to import additional, irrelevant successes or privileges into your dialogue is even better. Remember to be opportunistic and heavy-handed (but always graceful!) when it comes to seizing bragging opportunities, even if that means riding on the coattails of other people’s accomplishments.
EX. “I’VE JUST BEEN NAMED PRESIDENT OF MY SORORITY! I FEEL SO BLESSED AND UNDESERVING AND LOWLY AND SERVILE. WOW, I HAVEN’T BEEN THIS HUMBLED SINCE I WON THAT BEAUTY PAGEANT SENIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL.”
EX. “I’M SO PROUD OF MY SISTER! SHE JUST GOT ACCEPTED INTO OXFORD! I REMEMBER WHEN I USED TO HELP HER WITH HER HOMEWORK.”
SUBTLETY RATING: 3/10 NOTE: USE SPARINGLY TO AVOID LOOKING LIKE A COMPLETE BASTARD.
Lesson 4: For physical boasting, find a way—any way—to show off those rock-solid abs.
If you have an impeccably sculpted body, showing it off in the most exorbitant and promiscuous manner possible should practically be considered your duty. Explore creative ways to post selfies to social media that appear to only subliminally exhibit different aspects of your physique, but that still manage to shame those who dare peruse Facebook while cramming their faces full of cheese puffs.
EX. “GREAT DAY TO BE ON LANDIS GREEN! SO BEAUTIFUL.” [INSERT SHIRTLESS SELFIE EVEN THOUGH IT’S 70 DEGREES AND CLOUDY.]
EX. “UGH! LOOK HOW HORRIBLE I LOOK WITHOUT MAKEUP!” [INSERT SELFIE FEATURING A PERFECT COMPLEXION AND A RESPLENDENT SMILE THAT MIGHT AS WELL BE CONTORTED INTO A SMUG AND INGRATIATING SMIRK.]
SUBTLETY RATING: 4/10 NOTE: SIDE-EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE SURREPTITIOUS GLANCES OF LOATHING BEING EXCHANGED BEHIND YOUR BACK.
There you have it; consider yourself educated. You are now equipped to go passive-aggressively where many have gone before: into the depths of cloying mock-humility, obnoxious self-deprecation, and shameless self-promotion. Ass—excuse me, class—dismissed.