'Doorstop' Theory

by John Green | 11/26/97 6:00am

I went through an egocentric phase a few years ago. Friends might argue that my use of the past tense is a bit optimistic; however, with "foofie" hair like mine, I assure you that egocentrism is nearly impossible these days.

In any case, when I was six, I argued quite a bit with my parents, and I usually got my way. However, on the rare occasion that I didn't, I would blurt out, "Fine! I'm going to my room."

I've compared notes, and I think I might've been the only kid ever to believe that self-inflicted grounding would hurt my parents more than it would hurt me.

So where does this scarred childhood leave me today?

Well, in my year and a half in Hanover, I have chosen not to submit a single editorial to The Dartmouth.

My friends ask, and I wonder, "Am I sending myself to my room again? Am I egocentric enough to think that I am hurting The Dartmouth by withholding my humorless prose?"

I've reached a conclusion: I might still be a tad egocentric, but I'm not completely infantile (or vacuously stupid, for that matter).

In fact, I even think that I might be really close to growing up.

And, in light of this, I want you to know the real reason I have not written for The Dartmouth prior to today ... I have wanted to save my words for a moment of utmost importance.

The bad news for those who think I ramble: the moment has arrived. Today, it is time to talk about doorstops. (Keep reading... I think I'm building momentum.)

You see, I have this theory that every person has a listening quotient. The higher your quotient, the better listener you are. (By the way, I'm not really sure what a "quotient" would be in this context, so I'm going to go ahead and presume you don't either.)

The crux of my theory is that, when you need to talk to someone, you have to find someone with a higher listening quotient than your own. For most of us (read: me), this is no problem. However, I'm convinced that there is an upper bound to this quotient; there are people out there who are pure listeners. I call them doorstops, because the search for a higher listening quotient stops with them (and also because I am utterly lacking in creativity.)

I think you might know one of these so-called doorstops, so here's a quick checklist for identification purposes.

1) Listens.

2) Does not wait for you to finish just so that he/she can have his/her say.

3) Understands. (Or pretends to.)

4) Does not ask, "Do you mind if I just read this one blitz real quickly?"

5) Forgets intoxicated comments. (Or pretends to.)

(To absolve myself of any future culpability, I now ask you to please reread number five, lest you fall prey to a doorstop impostor.)

Now that you know how to identify these doorstops, you might understand my main concern. According to my theory, there doesn't seem to be anyone who can listen when the doorstops need to talk. If this is the case, I stand in awe at the selflessness and sanity which these doorstops exude.

If this isn't the case, well then I can't resolve the flaw (but I really like the notion that I have a theory), so I'll ignore it for now.

Instead, I'll offer a bit of unsolicited advice. If you don't have a doorstop, find one. And, if you do have one, take a moment to thank your doorstop.

I know I wouldn't be here without mine. And that, to me, is something worth writing about.