Apparently there's some sort of basketball championship thing going on, or was, or something. I know this because NPR, being too Intellectual and Important to just cover the finals, did a story on Kobe Bryant's demeanor during press conferences. Apparently, he's kind of a douche. In the sound clips they played, he sure does seem to be going out of his way to be unpleasant.
Then they played a clip of a reporter asking Kobe why he was sometimes "so surly." Kobe said, "I don't know what that word means," in a tone so hostile and disdainful that it seemed as though he were offended that someone dared to use a big word in his presence. I mean obviously, if you ask a surly athlete a surly question you're going to get a surly answer. But something in his tone really bugged me. He spoke in a tone, or at least it seemed to me that he spoke in a tone, that reminded me of when I was teaching, the tone children use when trying to prove to each other that they're not smart. You know the tone, the one that sneeringly implies that anyone who dares to actually learn is just a defective loser.
What bothers me is not that Bryant didn't know what "surly" meant. I don't know what a turnaround jumper is, because it's not my job to know what that means, just as knowing what surly means isn't his job. It was the way he seemed to me to be almost proud of the fact that he didn't know the word. I mean, obviously, Kobe's a terrible role model in general, but it bothers me that there are grown-up out there reinforcing the notion that knowledge makes you lame.
Or maybe I totally misread his tone. It's just that I loathe seeing kids jockey to be less intelligent than each other. I hate that kids who want to learn are ridiculed for doing so. Or maybe I'm just being a Sam the Eagle, insisting that things have "socially redeeming value."
This duck creature is as surly as he looks. When I tried to feed him, he knocked the food out of my hand, screamed at me, then bit me. When I ran away, he ate the food. Surly, I say.