Sister Wolf finds some Tumblr profiles in which people describe themselves as “eccentric,” and that’s just wrong:
My feeling is, you don’t describe yourself as eccentric. That’s a conclusion made about you by someone else. It just seems unseemly. Like calling yourself ‘classy,’ it’s kind of a self-negating word.
Naturally my husband failed to see the problem. I explained that actual eccentrics would not describe themselves as such. They tend to take no notice of how odd they are, but rather to find others baffling. The most eccentric people I’ve ever known would never describe themselves that way. Therefore, almost by definition, these self-described eccentrics are just being pretentious.
Now while I was growing up — perhaps this was a regional variation — people were dubbed “eccentric” if (1) they met the criteria for eccentricity and (2) they were tolerably well-off; “eccentric” plus “impecunious” equaled “weird,” or worse. Describing oneself as eccentric, however, was simply not done; instead, the, um, wackjob would point to his “eclectic interests,” and if he invoked the old square-peg metaphor, his intonation would drip with contempt for those mundane old holes, round as they were. So “pretentious” does seem to fit.
Which leaves me without a word for me, but I figure that if I need one, all I have to do is ask.
Update: Minor insertions here and there, but mostly there.