The Perils of Shadowing an Irreverent Mimic/
There are perks to being quotable, one assumes. When a witticism or turn of phrase sticks with people, echoes in their memory, it’s gratifying to think it brought a moment of joy or insight.
However, what starts as a compliment can curdle into something sinister when those echoes become appropriation. When your bon mots become another’s repertoire, and you find them attributed to the wrong lips.
This malicious mimicry masquerades as flattery at first.
See, your clever lines are so delightful, your thoughts so insightful, your style so superb, that imitation is the sincerest form of praise. Don’t you feel so honored, to inspire such dedication?
Tempted though you may be to swat this shadowing surreptitiously at first, it’s best to remain oblivious. Don’t draw attention to their parasitism or you’ll only encourage them. Let their plagiarism proceed at a languid pace, lest they discover how much further they’ve yet to go to catch up.
But catch up they inevitably do.
Until the day comes when praise for their perspicacity abruptly halts, confused for your own. When their grasp of metaphor and mordant wit exceeds your own in the eyes of awestruck onlookers. And you find yourself eclipsed, quoting your own quotable turns tossed back at you, bearing another’s imprint.
Like iridescent oil on water, the mimic eventually envelops and obscures the wellspring. All that’s left are the ripples of your voice, your style, your vision - reflected back at you through someone else’s mouth. The perils of spawning an irreverent mimic are only revealed in hindsight, alas, by which point the damage is done.
The moral? Avoid flattery that grows too fungus-like and feverish. And never again watch your words so freely.