Did you catch The Office on Thursday? Painful. Just... painful. Poor Andy, right? If you didn’t see the episode, it featured a garden party, tableaux vivantes and Josh Groban.
I guess one reason people love The Office, besides the great writing and the constant laughs, is that the characters, while a bit exaggerated, are a lot like the people we work with. Or, in my case, like ourselves. And before I reveal which person is me, I’ll say who it’s not... It’s not Jim – Ha! I WISH I were that easygoing and graceful! It’s not his sweet, lovable wife Pam either. And it’s not Meredith, who has her problems – alcohol, promiscuity – but is quite comfortable with her body and herself. Lastly, hopefully I’m not prim and judgmental Angela, as I’ve said before (although maybe some of my co-workers would beg to differ.) No... who I am is Andy, and that’s why it really pains me to watch him. Andy Bernard is now the regional manager of “the office” under charismatic CEO Robert California – played by James Spader, who talks kind of weird, by the way, doesn’t he? Kind of oily and quiet, yet over-enunciated...
Anyway, it would appear Andy’s got a lot going on — an Ivy League education, a wealthy family, top position in the office, Josh Groban for a brother... but somehow, Andy is always pushing way too hard to prove himself. It runs through every episode that he plays a big part in – especially back when he was vying for the love of Angela... And in this latest show, his yearning for approval and praise is way out front, as he plays out a garden party charade for his parents and his new boss. He may as well have been shouting “LOVE ME!! PLEASE!!”
|That's me on the left... and on the right...|
In all actuality, Andy is just fine. While his preppy upbringing and fondness for a capella singing make him a little offbeat for the regular-joe group at Dunder Mifflin Paper Co., he generally has good rapport with the others and his enthusiasm makes him quite likable. It’s only when he tries too hard – which is almost always – that watching him becomes hard to bear. I just want to yell out sometimes, “Just relax, dude! You’re fine!” So, if Andy is me, maybe I should be yelling that at myself? And, if Andy is me, I’ll apologise upfront for making the people who know me watch it all!
I hope that as I’ve aged, I’ve gotten better about this – I mean at this point it’s just too tiring to try that hard, right? You like me or you don’t. I say this, but if you don’t it probably would bother me some! And even though I am way too tired to work for your approval, I still understand exactly where the Nard Dog, aka Andy, is coming from...
|Bob Dylan and the object of his fascination:|
In conclusion, I will say, that in a mild way, I also identify with the highly eccentric Mennonite beet farmer Dwight. Yes, that’s right.... Because with all his eccentric interests and intense focus, he’s just so darn mockable. And that really is like me. I have been mocked for my intensity about far-ranging subjects — from Elton John... to J.R.R. Tolkien... to Jesus. Yes, I’m weird like Dwight... but I’m not alone. I read an anecdote in a biography of Bob Dylan... when he was young he was so fascinated in (as in wouldn’t shut up about) Woody Guthrie that at parties people would tell him, “Hey Bob, Woody’s outside – he wants to talk to you.” Then young Bob, who would have been drinking a bit, would run out into the below-zero Minnesota winter yelling, “Woody! I’m here! Where are you?”
Because when people are super into stuff, it makes them really mockable. And that’s how Dwight and me are the same. Oh well, I guess we can’t all be a Jim or a Pam.