Lifestyle & Culture

Weekend Reading: Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat?

This excerpt is taken from Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat? True Stories and Confessions, a new book of essays by best-selling author Lisa Scottoline and her daughter, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Francesca Serritella. This story, “I’m Not My Type,” was written by Francesca. The book was published earlier last month by St. Martin’s Press ($21.99; you can buy it here.)

I HAVE A terrible personality.ExcerptBeach2Web

According to Myers-Briggs.

My best friend sent me a version of the famous personality test to discover whether or not we would be good candidates for the CIA, hypothetically.

Because that’s the type of idea my best friend and I come up with.

So she forwarded me a web link to a shortened version of the test.

Shockingly, neither of us had the spy personality; she was an INFJ and I came up with an INTJ. At first we were excited—we were just one letter off from each other—twinsies! It took a minute before I bothered to learn what my letters meant: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Judgmental.

“Is that good?” I asked her over Gchat, Google’s instant messaging service.

“Yeah!” she typed. She was lucky I couldn’t see her face. “That’s a very rare personality type.”

She sent me an extended profile of my type. Sure enough, it said INTJs account for just 2% of the population, and female INTJs are only 0.8%.

I felt like a rare gem, a diamond.

Until I read the rest of the description. The only thing diamond-like about INTJ is a heart of coal.

The intro paragraph could be summed up as “Lady Macbeth.”

“INTJs are defined by their tendency to move through life as if it were a giant chess board, always assessing new tactics, strategies, and contingency plans, constantly outmaneuvering their peers to maintain control.”

Famous INTJs listed were Vladimir Putin, Lance Armstrong, Augustus Caesar (did you know Myers and Briggs lived Before Christ?), and Hannibal, among other Machiavellian rulers, egomaniacs, and cheats.

“I’m horrified!” I wrote to my friend.

“No! You could conquer the world!!!”

Three exclamation points are Internet-speak for overcompensating.

I can’t possibly belong with these narcissists. Although, I do write about myself for a living.

And I’m a formidable Scrabble opponent. Does that count?

Another section speculated about fictional INTJs. The first was Walter White from Breaking Bad.

Okay, so the superfan in me loved this. At least it wasn’t Lydia.

Also Gregory House from “House MD,” Hannibal Lecter from “Silence of the Lambs” and Professor Moriarty, mortal enemy of Sherlock Holmes. Smart but heartless characters, ranging from a know-it-all misanthrope to a cannibalistic sociopath.

Put that in my OK Cupid profile.

The only decent one was Katniss Everdeen. I haven’t read those books, but she’s the good one in the kill-kids-for-sport game, right?

I’m not slinging arrows, I’m grasping at straws.

My friend’s chat bubble popped up again: “You’re right. This is so not you. Especially the parenting stuff.”

Parenting section? I found it, and—oof—the INTJ parent makes the Tiger Mother sound like a kitten:

“Not prone to overt displays of physical affection … perfectionistic, often insensitive. When it comes to emotional support, INTJs … will likely never deliver the sort of warmth and coddling children crave.”

I don’t have children yet, but I have a dog and a cat who are my babies. I let them sleep in my bed, I kiss them on the mouth, I cook for them, and I tell them they are brilliant and beautiful—although they listen best when I’m holding a treat. I even brush my dog’s teeth three times a week.

Believe me, I can coddle with the best of them.

I was Italian before I was INTJ.

At the end, the profile stated, “Remember, all types are equal.”

Oh, sure. That’s why you listed history’s greatest super-villains in my group.
I hate this. My astrological sign, Aquarius, never suited me either. The descriptions say things like: a flighty air sign, a social butterfly, no one can hold on to you for long! Meanwhile, I’ve had the same five close girlfriends since I was eleven, I’m a serial monogamist, and I’m a homebody who enjoys nesting.

Aquarius wouldn’t let me sit at her lunch table.

Anyone who has been on Facebook recently has seen their feeds inundated with those “Which Disney Princess/Dog Breed/Game of Thrones House/Alcoholic Beverage Are YOU?” personality quizzes. Who among us hasn’t clicked on one?

Who among us hasn’t taken one twice for a better outcome?

The last one I took promised to tell me who would play me in a movie. My answer:
Morgan Freeman.

I get that all the time.

I never believed in astrology, much less an online personality test, and yet I’m still curious and then disappointed when they aren’t what I want to hear. What are we looking for in these quizzes? Validation? Recognition? Any excuse not to do work?

Well, I’m done. I’m more than a type, a star sign, or an algorithm. I know myself better than anyone.

And I’d be great in the CIA.

–Francesca Serritella

From Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat? Copyright © 2015 by Smart Blonde, LLC, and Francesca Scottoline Serritella.

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