We wrote a SeriouslyGuide on how to
look smart appear intelligent a few months ago. Upon reflection, however, we realized that looking smart isn’t always enough. One stupid act can destroy a carefully crafted image (read: lie) that you’ve presented to others. In some cases, that stupid act can supersede any actual smart things you do in the future. That is why The Guys have come together to teach you how to not look like an idiot.
Frame or kid
1) Do not publicly eat individually-packaged pastries from the wrapper.
You’d think that, since this is America, you can eat whatever you want whenever you want. Well, yeah, you can. But, like with free speech, nobody can arrest you for looking like an idiot, but they can ridicule you or treat you like a child.
There’s one type of food that guarantees judgment from others, and that’s eating a Twinkie or uncooked Pop-Tart from the wrapper in public.
Twinkies, along with other Hostess and Little Debbie food-like products, have goofy kids’ names. Outside of a Whitney Houston song, who actually heralds children—en masse—as an imitable example for adult behavior? None that are credible.
On top of their ridiculous nomenclature, these bundles of sugar are often filled with an amorphous white cream. Congratulations, you’re now a Freudian joke.
Finally, there’s the issue of nutrition. We are a health-obsessed nation, though few of us seriously practice it. Because of that, we judge a person’s health based on appearance, because that’s all we actually maintain. A fat person who can run a marathon is still looked at as a fat person who needs lipo or a stomach-stapling. If you already appear unfit and are licking the chocolate off of a ding-dong wrapper, people will assume that you are too dumb to look fit.
The uncooked Pop-Tart lets others know that not only do you eat breakfast, an unheard of American practice after 3 am since the 1970s, but that you apparently don’t know how to cook it, either. This is even worse since the Pop-Tart can be prepared by any source of heat, be it toaster, microwave or Zippo.
What to do instead: Unwrap that ho-ho, and put it on a plate. Seriously. It seems ridiculous, but nobody looks down on someone with a sense of table-setting. Just don’t use a fork or knife; Seinfeld already ruined that. Or, you could just eat at home.
2) Do not wear someone else’s jersey unless you are under 15-years old.
The implication is that you got this jersey by sleeping with the player whose name is across the back. Or that you really want to sleep with this player, so you bought the jersey to impress him. Appearing like a muscles-obsessed homosexual does not make you look like an idiot. Publicly declaring your inappropriately high sexual fixation does. Face it, dude: Peyton Manning is way, way, WAY out of your league, and everyone knows it.
It’s important to leave childish things to children, at least so you won’t look like an idiot. Kids don’t wear sports stars’ jerseys to publicly announce their unrealistic crushes. They wear them out of idolization. And if you’re an adult that wears a jersey to idolize a sports player, then you’re considered one or two steps away from Silence of the Lambs and, therefore, look like an idiot.
What to do instead: Either frame that jersey, or give it to your kid. If you honestly feel that your devotion to your favorite team makes you a part of it, then get a custom jersey with your name on the back. We’re pretty sure this comes with every Green Bay tax return.
And ball caps are still fair play, unless they say something like, oh, “Warren Sapp’s body is a Wonderland!”
3) Do not say the word “literally” more than once a day.
If all of your stories incorporate the word “literally,” then you are clearly a character in a work of fiction. For something to happen literally, it simply means that it happened just as you described. In other words, it’s a long-winded way of saying “actually.”
Example: “Mr. President, I literally ate an entire KFC bucket.”
Unlike other words described in our guide to seeming intelligent, people have broken the code on “literally.” Using it means that either (a) you believe that the president cannot fathom eating a dozen or more pieces of chicken or (b) you ate a greasy cardboard carton. Say what you will about President Bush, but you will manage to look like the idiot, especially if you consume the face of a Colonel during a war.
What to do instead: Try saying “actually” or even throw in the occasional “I swear to Crom.” Or you could just leave it out. If your audience is confused, let them ask. If you meant that you really ate the chickeny-flavored box, say, “Yes, that’s what really happened.” If you meant that you ate a crapton of chicken, say, “What? Are you an idiot? Who eats cardboard?”
The latter response is especially handy if you realize you look like an idiot and need to back out of your story.