Mr. Know-it-all

I had lunch today at an Indian restaurant where my friend and I were regaled by the wisdom of a guy I’ll call Mr. Know-it-all.

Mr. Know-it-all (see above) is one of those guys who knows everything. And I mean everything. He reminded me very much of my friend’s ex-husband, who also knew everything. The ex-husband once insisted on telling me something about screenplays, even though I had been reading them professionally for ten years.

Anyway, Mr. Know-it-all had one of the cooks in his thrall, at one point telling the man something about India, the cook’s birthplace. The cook managed to say “India is a place of great diversity” before Mr. Know-it-all ceded the point and moved on to the subject of Pakistan. In his authoritative monologue, Mr. Know-it-all held forth about the economy, manufacturing, Russia, the Rockefellers, the Carnagies, Fidel Castro, Israel, Iran, and my personal favorite, where to get the best bagels in China.

Why do these people exist? Why are they always men?

I have to admit I was fascinated by Mr. Know-it-all, and had to fight an urge to interact with him, just to make him spew forth more information. I suggested to my friend that she offer to marry him, since she’s had so much experience for the position. Sadly, she gave it a pass. We may never know the full scope of his knowledge.

The food was great, though.


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49 Responses to Mr. Know-it-all

  1. Heidi says:

    Mansplaining. I cracked up when my friend Kel used the term as I’d never heard it, and it’s so true! I used to work for The Boston Beer Company, and whenever a stranger man learned that, he would regale me with tales of my own boss, or the company. Like I wouldn’t know, working there, and all. (We gals don’t like beer and stick to White Zinfandel, apparently.)

  2. Sam says:

    God yes I can’t bear know it alls, they are up there with people who comment negatively about what you are eating or wearing or listening to, like you ever asked for their opinion. The dude in the background looks sad – is mr know it all a regular & has leaning man heard it all before?

  3. Molly says:

    “Mansplaining” – I LOVE that

  4. I’d leave a comment but the dog keeps bothering me – maybe he is a friend of Mr Knowitall xx

  5. Dee says:

    “People who think they know it all really annoy those of us that do.” LOL

    As an aside Sister…are you aware that
    dammitImMad is spelled the same backwards and forwards? Just some inane trivia I thought I’d share. Lol
    xoxo Dee

  6. dana says:

    Credit to Rebecca Solnit for her brilliant essay and coinage of the term “mansplaining.” Mother Jones used it for a brief on rape definintions this month. Good times.

    My father is a mansplainer/know it all. Conversation is utterly impossible. I was well into my thirties, and unfortunately already married, when I realized this. They will never reform. Ever. My mother faces her retirement next year in dread. I am advising she get out as much as possible.

    You doing ok? I have a cold that is making me feel like death.

  7. ali says:

    nothin’ wrong with a white zin.

    Also, I am the worst eves dropping human ever. On the internet as in life. I have a problem with listening in on and making fun of restaurant conversations. The stag-know-it-all restaurant goer is a common type. My boyfriend points out this type of human might just be lonely.

    Maybe he is lonely for a reason, but still. Loneliness is loneliness.

  8. Romeo says:

    Is there a DSM-IV code that covers this? And is it a thing that only manifests in dudes or is it just more common for dudes not to hide this defect? I think there must be ladies with this problem/disposition but they aren’t tolerated as much.

    Is it maybe a drug thing? Because this behavior reminds me of insufferable cokeheads.

  9. Deena says:

    Dee- I like inane trivia, and that was a gem!

  10. Andra says:

    Did you know this guy before you went there?
    What did you have for lunch?
    Are there plans to meet up with him again?
    More information please.

  11. EH says:

    My sister calls my boyfriend Mr Authority On Everything. He is the loveliest guy and it comes from the best possible place (and normally only when he’s nervous) but it can be excruciating. In private it rarely comes out and once he gets to know people he settles down a lot but when he’s nervous or meeting new people at dinner parties at gatherings he can’t help himself. Despite how much I kick him under the table, twist his little finger or pinch his arm he just has to come out with yet another instructional story, sometimes I just have to walk away.

  12. Liz!! says:

    I always have that urge to push their buttons and hear what kind of shit they can talk about for hours. Sometimes it happens and I always, always regret it afterwards.

    Seems like every man does that, though. Years ago I got into a discussion with someone about English translations of the Qur’an and he felt the need to start explaining the Arabic root system to me, and I started breathing slowly, like a bull.

    “I’m in your Arabic class, remember? I’m your tutor!” Of course he knew that. But he, again, is a Mr. Know-It-All. Every discussion was like that. And he would talk about the best Japanese restaurant, why all of X video games suck, and explain the Cold War to me, all in one conversation.

    My ex-father in law was like that. My ex-husband was like that. My boyfriend is like that. I’m not sure a man exists who isn’t like that.

    I’d say go for it if you see him again, but no bitching later! (Although that’s the fun part.) Or just sit at the next table and say one thing in a clear voice that you know will set him off. They CAN’T resist sharing the truth with you.

  13. Liz!! says:

    BTW, to add, if you kind of want to find a ton of these guys in one place, ride the Amtrak in the Southeast or Midwest US. I never get any sleep on the train because I can’t stop listening to them hold forth about anything and everything in the world for my 22 hour train ride.

  14. David Duff says:

    … and furthermore, just let me add a couple of things I haven’t mentioned before … oh! Where’s everybody gone?

  15. Stephanie says:

    This character trait comes with the penis.

  16. Bonnie says:

    Ugh! I have a sister that does this. She even knows what other people are thinking and feeling at all times. Makes conversation so much fun!

  17. sisty says:

    And God spelled backward is Dog.

    It’s not always men. I have a female step-relative who knows how to do everything, and I mean everything, and will tell you how, whether you care or not.

  18. Romeo says:

    Thanks, Bonnie and sisty. Now that I know that this is not just a man thing I finally know everything! Now I’m off to inform the world!

  19. thriftstorelawyer says:

    I’m not sure women do exactly the same thing. I think the female version is more akin to Penelope, the SNL character of Kristin Wiig’s creation. In my experience, it’s more about one-upmanship for us gals.

    My father is a mansplainer. As a result, he is obsessed with having grandchildren, to whom he can mansplain without fear they will tell him to shut up or –much worse– complain that they’ve heard it all before. (Informing a mansplainer of his redundancy is the ultimate insult, as it exposes the shallowness of his knowledge). I am seriously considering denying him access to my kids unless he will sign a pact not to talk politics with them. He is a Republican of the worst variety…

    But ladies, you can end the cycle of mansplaination. I managed to marry a man who has no interest in explaining anything to me, and it has been pure bliss.

  20. candy says:

    I think it must be interesting to meet him and talk about bagels in China.
    I had a bad week,an asshole online told me my english was apalling, is that true?

  21. Bonnie says:

    My sister is definitely a mansplainer even though she’s not a man. She can tell you all about your job and how to do it. If you take a vacation she already knows everything about the place you are going. Whatever experience you have, she has already had it or knows someone who has. If you have a health problem she has already read everything there is to know about it and knows why your doctor’s advice is wrong.
    Hey Romeo want to meet my sister?

  22. annemarie says:

    I hate Know-it-alls, HATE them, and I agree: they are always men.

    I got into a vicious drunken screaming match with a Know-it-all on my back porch during the summer. He thought he could explain to me the differences and similarities between the problems in Northern Ireland, the Basque country and Israel. He would concede nothing to me, even though I’m from Ireland and lived for two years in Spain, so actually know something and have thought a lot about this subject. At one point he said, “I actually think you are too close to the subject matter and therefore can’t be objective about it”!! Unlike him, who had been to none of the above places ever. Insufferable motherfucker.

    The only solace was the conversation I had next day with my neighbor. I went over to apologize for all the shouting and bad language that he might have heard, and he said “Oh don’t worry. It sounded like he didn’t know what he was talking about.” Really? I asked. Why’s that? “Because you just kept shouting “You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.””

  23. Taylor says:

    BAHAHAHA. I died reading this because I know SO MANY of these people, and yes, they are all men, except one.

    They are really great at finishing your sentences for you, because they already knew what you were going to say.

    One guy got into a fight with me about my astrological sign… yeah…

  24. David Duff says:

    “They are really great at finishing your sentences for you, because they already knew what you were going to say.

    One guy got into a fight with me about my astrological sign… yeah…” and, of course, as we all know, do we not? anyone who believes in astrological signs is technically brain dead and that reminds me of something else I have beening to tell you all . . .

  25. Suebob says:

    Oh, yes, these people. They ARE always men. Hm. Good question.

    Reminded me of this video – Mr Know it All makes an appearance about 4:40 in:

  26. Cricket9 says:

    I just spent some time as a houseguest with a mansplainer. He is a PhD in optic physics, which, apparently, makes him a PhD in everything else. He does not talk, he pontificates – slowly, as if mansplaining things to a particularly dim-witted audience.
    After some attempts at a conversation I stopped participating – not even a nod or a grunt; a total silence does not deter him, in fact I think he takes it as a rapt attention.
    Even worse than the mansplaining is the absolute and utter conviction that he’s always, always right.
    I don’t know how his wife endures it – maybe she developed a selective deafness. He’s a decent enough person, just totally insufferable.

  27. Cricket9 says:

    I forgot to add – Thrifstorelawyer is right, my mansplainer very much wants to have grandchildren – to the point of reminding his single daughters (28 and 30) that their “clock is ticking”.

  28. Dexter Vandango says:

    In this modern age we men can hardly adorn our belts with scalps, and must sadly resort to trevial “facts”as our peacock feathers. Women, however, have no need to present questionable info.. but somehow you manage to prattle on incessantly anyway… Whoopee.. endless conversation free of any pretense to relevance!

  29. Dexter Vandango says: another trivial mistake.

  30. Hammie says:

    In Ireland he would be called “The Pub Genius” and be revered.

  31. moolissa says:

    “Why do these people exist? Why are they always men?”

    God(ammit), I love you, Sister.

  32. Suebob says:

    “He’s a decent enough person, just totally insufferable.” Hahaha.

  33. Cat says:

    My friend dated a guy like this for awhile. It became a game to taunt him into these great debates and then just to mess with him I start spouting off a bunch of “facts” I made up of the spot to get him going. When used correctly, Mr. Know it All can be quite entertaining.

  34. I love how you’ve snapped that sneaky photo. I think he looks sad and lonely, and probably doesn’t have much else to say apart from everything.

  35. Dru says:

    I’m the daughter of a know-it-all – there is NOTHING my father will not hold forth on, never mind if he’s facing a person who does know more about it than he does or not (or maybe he just has the problem when said person is me). I find it comforting sometimes, but other people probably don’t. And it’s certainly unappealing when coming from anyone besides dad.

  36. kate says:

    My best friend was dating a mansplainer. She asked me to come on one of their dates because she couldn’t stand listening to him (she didn’t CONVERSE with him, amiright ladies?) and she knew I was rude enough to shut that shit down. She knew me well, as I pretty much just screamed until he asked me what was wrong.

  37. Alicia says:

    I married one. Talking with him is exhausting.

    (love you, honey)

  38. Cricket9 says:

    I so wish I could forward SW post and all the comments to “my” mansplainer. He’s too busy though to read it, what with all the mansplaining he has to do. I imagine him starting to mansplain to us that we are totally wrong with his favourite sentence: “what you all are saying doesn’t make any sense at all”.

  39. Mavis says:

    All the know-it-alls I’ve met were white guys. I say this because as an Asian woman it’s especially remarkable how much these white men like to lecture me about Asia, sometimes in particular, my home town, using their experiences with Asians born and bred overseas, and with other parts of Asia. Their knowledge, of course, isn’t limited to Asian-ness but anything and everything. If I do mention something they don’t know they quickly change the topic to one that they CAN lecture me about.

  40. Juri says:

    From behind he looks a bit like that guy from Everybody Loves Raymond with an extra mullet. And this is not a compliment. I’d love to have a coffee with and a lecture from him and let him know that,”in the end of the day there are no bagels in China, and once you’ve seen one diverse Indian you seen them all. Little Endian, big Endian. Where’s the end of your story. You see I’ve been around. Just like Johnny Cash and then some, I’ve been more everywehere than you, man.”

  41. Vicki says:

    I work on the trading floor at an Investment Bank (I am a lowly I.T. drone) and it is full of these people, not always men but more often than not. Your post expresses more eloquently than I am able the utter dross they spout. Thanks again.

  42. Sister Wolf says:

    Candy – No.

    Juri – Did you kill a man in Reno just to watch him die?

    Mavis – Right. they won’t tolerate a subject that’s new to them.

    Alicia – Oh god. I assume you’ve learned selective deafness by now. (Love you too)

  43. Sister Wolf says:

    Hammie – Hahahahahahahha!

  44. Juri says:

    I’m afraid I didn’t. But I do think I said to another one “My name Sue, how do you do?”

  45. Cami says:

    I didn’t read every comment, but BUT seriously, you post was so strange/timely to come across… I’ve been overseas working in Indonesia for a while, and I’d read this article about THE MAN WHO KNOWS EVERYTHING, and thought it was pretty funny, then slowly over time I began to realize how many men are JUST THAT, I was meeting all sorts of new people and was astounded. Fuck it is annoying! Fascinating but completely retarded. The one’s I met would have been great people had they not had the insatiable desire to talk incessantly about bollocks – simply to prove their bountiful and broad knowledge, of nothing in particular.
    I wonder if they get home after a night out and wonder who they met.

  46. Sister Wolf says:

    Cami – naw, they go home and absorb new facts to pontificate about. Perhaps the whole thing is a ploy to avoid talking about “feelings” instead of a ply for dominance? Boring as shit either way.

  47. Monica says:

    Shouldn’t this be tagged “douchebags” as well?

  48. Joyce says:

    I also have a sister that is one. The favorite expression is “I’m not surprised”. Can you imagine how joyless it would be to through life without surprises because you know everything. Every utterance is interrupted with a monologue of how they’ve been there and know it even without the experience. Never had a dog, no problem, tells you all about raising dogs. Never had a child, no problem, filled with parental wisdom to share.

  49. Sister Wolf says:

    Joyce – What a nightmare. I may start a blog called and you might want to get in on it.

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