Outside Looking In

Seeing The Social Network made me realize one thing: We all just want to belong

“I wouldn’t want to be part of any club that would have me as a member.”

That’s a classic Groucho Marx quote paraphrased by Woody Allen in the movie Annie Hall. Boy, does it apply to the hit flick The Social Network, which more than anything else explores our basic human need just to be accepted by others. How many of you reading this right now can still painfully recall the potential prom date who blew you off, the summer job you were rejected for, the bullying you endured off some jerkweed athlete DECADES after the fact? Heck, I’m in my fifties and I still feel like I’m on the outside looking in at times. [SIGNUP]

What really blew me away about this film was that is was dealing with kids feeling excluded and humiliated AND THEY WERE AT HARVARD! You can’t get more of a “private club” than Harvard to begin with, can you? Yet, even at that Big Pile of Snobbery there are clubs within the Real Big Club created for the sole reason of being able to exclude “losers” from perpetrating their VIP velvet rope bunch of bullshit. It’s hysterical.

So right off the bat, I disliked these Silver Spooners. I grew up in the rowhome parishes of Southwest Philly destined for West Catholic where we looked “down” on any rich asshole who lived in Upper Darby and went to Bonner! To us grubby knuckleheads still swimming under fireplugs, that zip code might as well have been 90210. See what I’m getting at? This is also hysterical.

Exclusion, snobs, rejection, our outlook on all of this is constantly evolving. Two cases in point. When I was 19, I dated this chick who lived in Havertown. I had to take a bus and a trolley and then walk half a mile just to get to her. This had me pissed off already. Imagine. I’m the loser without a car, but I’m blaming her parents for living in a nice home in the suburbs. I was taking her to a flick where we were gonna have to walk that half a mile back to the trolley to get to the moviehouse. I can now only imagine what her parents thought of me (seeing that had three cars in their driveway).

Yet, I was the one with the attitude. It was me who was questioning why I was spending any money at all on this suburban girl. She walked down the stairs wearing these glen plaid pants that not one chick in MY neighborhood would be caught dead wearing. Needless to say the date was a nightmare and I never saw her again.

Cut to five years later and the acceptance tables get turned. I’m now 24 and I have done absolutely nothing with my life since that horrible date. I had dropped out of three colleges, lived in innumerable shitty apartments, had countless dead end jobs. I was now beginning to see where my place in life was and it wasn’t promising. At 19, I was still cocky and opinionated about life. At 24, it was beginning to look like it was passing me by.

Yet somehow, into my life stepped this beautiful young girl of 19 who not only had fallen in love with me, but somehow saw nothing but great potential in me. To this day (Deb and I have been married 28 years), how this all happened is a great mystery to me. But those 28 years are far, far away. First, I had to meet her parents.

They lived in Holland, Pa. I pulled up in my 17-year-old rusted-out Malibu into the richest neighborhood I was ever in. It wasn’t even a “neighborhood,” it was a “development.” I had come from a one bathroom rowhome and this wasn’t a house to me. It was a split-leveled mansion with manicured lawns and a pool! Except now, I was no longer that cocky kid ridiculing the “phony” suburban lifestyle. Now I was the outsider looking in. I always felt completely out of place. I hated going up there. I used to pray that no one would notice the piece of shit I was pulling up in. I always felt like they were staring at me like I was eating with my hands at the dinner table. How was I ever going to be “accepted” by these people?

Well, it turned out they were just “people.” And nice ones at that. To this day, I have never made a nasty mother-in-law joke because I always liked her. Which was tough on a stand-up comic, believe me. Phil? My wife’s stepdad who bought that amazing house? A prince of a man, one of my all time favorite dudes ever, a man who made his fortune in the “taproom” business.

What I’m saying is that while watching The Social Network, I realized that this kid Zuckerberg was “inventing” half of the enemies he thought hated him. And no matter how old we get, there’s a valuable lesson to be learned there. That the person you are convinced is a jerk and dislikes you might not be all that different from you at all.

shameless plug

NOVACARE presents the next TWO FUNNY PHILLY GUYS SHOW starring Joe Conklin & myself is coming to the Media Theatre on Sat. nite, Nov. 13th at 8pm. It’s our first time here so we’re gonna rock the house! Go to medatheatre.org to get your tix!

Click on to BIGDADDYGRAHAM.COM for all all info!