Sunday, January 6, 2013

To Kvell Is Divine, To Brag, Not So Much

Kvell:  To be delighted, to well up, to gush over your children briefly, or maybe a close relative, or even a spouse, before pointing out their flaws:  "Sure, he got an A in biology, but just once, could he put a glass in the dishwasher like a normal person, instead of leaving it on the floor, where I can trip and sprain an ankle?"
Brag:  To talk boastfully, till people can't take it any more and run screaming from the room.  "And then I did this, and then I did that, and can you blame me for going out and buying a Rolex to celebrate the wonder of me?"

In life, the SJG firmly believes, there are two categories of humans -- kvellers and braggers. Kvellers are more comfortable praising others, without going overboard, than extolling their own accomplishments. Braggers go on and on till you pretty much want to slap them upside the head and say, "Enough."  Kvellers tend to downplay, braggers, inflate. Kvellers are humble, braggers, a bit... what's the word I'm looking for? Narcissistic.  The SJG is a kveller of children, spouses, siblings, friends, neighbors, countrymen, canines, total strangers in line at the market.  "That scarf brings out the green in your eyes.  Now, could you stop talking on the cell phone and pay for your quinoa?"  I tend to surround myself with fellow kvellers who understand the boundaries of kvelling.  It's a quick visit to a land of guess-who-got-accepted-to-medical-school/film school/pick-a-school?  Guess-who-got promoted/got-inducted-to-the-Kvetchers-Hall-of-Fame?

And yet, braggers can be very entertaining.  Every now and then, they bring out the kvell.  They manage to aim the spotlight on others.  To oversimplify -- why stop now when I'm on a roll -- braggers are lively folks, fun to have at a party.  They keep things moving and upbeat.  "And then I leaned over to Larry... Olivier... maybe you've heard of him?  British actor?  Knighted?  And I said, Larry, really, your Hamlet was much better than my Hamlet.   Oh, don't you dare contradict me." Braggers know how to command a room. Kvellers make good listeners. Above all, braggers are amazing self-promoters.  There are times I wish I had a little more of the bragging gene.  Braggers tend to be more self-confident than kvellers, even if it's based on delusion. Kvellers like to put the focus on others.  So, pardon me while I sit back and kvell over you.  I guess what it comes down to is this:  I'd rather gush than blush.


  1. In the immortal words of my grandfather, a fully confident actor/entrepreneur, "An actor is the kind of person who, if you aren't talking about him, he ain't listening."

  2. How's it go? To kvetch is somethinaruther, to kvell, devine? Great blog!