One-uppers

Shannon Freese

There will always be that one guy at the party. He’s most likely wearing plaid and a backward hat. He’s always got to be the best in the room. He is the “one-upper.”
No matter how good my greatest accomplishment is, the one-upper always steps in with something he’s done better. While conversing with the one-upper for 15 minutes, I might as well be reduced to nothing but a burlap sack full of bars of soap. In that case, the only good thing about the situation is someone may pick me up and beat the one-upper senseless.
The one-upper’s goal is to ruin your confidence and break your spirit. If you’re lucky, the one-upper will be busy harassing everyone else at the party so you can make your getaway through the back door.
Although I am pretty close to perfect, I’m not the model of a perfect person. I have a few flaws, and I haven’t perfected every aspect of life.
Yet.
In any case, the one-upper should never come to show me the 98 percent on the math test we took last Friday, and he should never come groping after my paper in hopes that my percentage will be less than his. The one-upper’s hands are always clammy with excitement, and his eager eyes look for the red number on the top of the first page. It’s extremely obnoxious, and it’s always been something I’ve hated. It’s my test, why does he care about my score at all?
As soon as the teacher puts my exam down on my desk, I look at the score and quickly flip to the next page, tucking the front page behind the last. The one-upper turns and sees my test in hand, and instantly asks me, “What you got?”  This is his first move, and it’s a classic one-upper tactic.
He will sound interested in what I’ve learned during the past month of mathematical training, but all he really wants is to know his number is better than mine. When I don’t respond, the one-upper uses his last resort. He arches his neck to see the back of the page, gently lifting the front cover so the red marks of my score exposes itself.
“I got three points better than you,” the one-upper will say. “But a 95 is good, too.”
And by the end of the period, the one-upper will say, “I got a 98” so many times his tongue will have dried up and retracted into the back of his throat. No. Please, shut up.
If I’ve ever felt the need to vent to a one-upper, I’ve found my efforts would be better directed at a broken refrigerator. The one-upper will not console. He will try to beat my story with something more terrible and awful than the story I presented. So, my history teacher threw away my test because my phone rang? Well, maybe I didn’t know, but the one-upper is now officially an orphan and is being forced to work 16-hour workdays in Somalia making knit sweaters.
I will never understand this aspect of the one-upper. I can understand wanting to be the best in the room, but why would anyone want to be the worst in the room? The one-upper’s logic is twisted, but he seems to believe being the person with the worst life in the room would somehow make him the best.  The one-upper will never admit his faults until there’s a pity party, and if there’s ever such a party, the one-upper will unplug all the stops and make sure the pity falls only on him and no one else in the entire room like a cascading waterfall of pity swirling into the heart of the one-upper and filling him with satisfaction.
Seriously, the one-upper? He’s pathetic. He degrades other people to get instant gratification. He’s like a racist or a politician. If the people of earth ever plan on functioning in a happy, annoyance-free place, we might as well start genocide of the one-upper sub-species right now. Maybe we could deport them to Canada. Just think about how great the United States would be without them. But of course, according to any one-upping Canadian, Canada would be exponentially better.
But there’s that one time in a thousand attempts that the one-upper will epically fail at something, anything. He will brick out a lay-up during physical education; he will hit the curb turning into a parking lot at Wal-Mart.  The one-upper, in classic one-upper style, will laugh it off and shrug. Sarcastically, he’ll make a comment about how he stinks at everything. In an undertone, he’s implying even the best of the best of humans have their moments, and it’ll never happen again. And you better believe his is the best of the best.
The one-upper epitomizes everything I hate about our generation. The one-upper is an attention sucker, and whenever there’s someone else doing something better than he, he finds it unacceptable. For some reason, being “the best” at something is a display of power and strength, and because the one-upper lacks so much confidence, he’ll suck it out of everybody around him.
So, when I walk into the party and see the plaid-wearing, eyebrow plucking guy working his crowd in the corner, gesturing animatedly as he tells a story about how he defended a group of kindergarten’s from a bear during a field trip, I know who to avoid. Whenever I see him, I feel like I have to leave the room to give his ego enough space. Either that or he just makes me sick.
Today, I hate the one-upper.
By Shannon Freese