Don't quite recall how the subject of defining professional came up, but as usual, once a word enters the domestic atmosphere, it stays until it has been replaced or has worn out its welcome. In this case, one of us says 'See? Now that's a professional!' & the other usually agrees, since we mostly have the same tastes in things of this sort. And so it goes.
Agreeing makes it less of an outright time-waster, of course, but it also means—at least for me, raised by a contrarian—that sometimes a horrid sort of impulse to seek out opposition arises. This explains why I often cannot spend much more than, say, 5 or 10 minutes on the phone with my remaining parent without entering a discussion from which I do not easily exit. Then the torture begins. Unless I hang up, of course, which I did once & promptly burst into tears; in a way, I was an amateur facing a pro & I was pummeled & bloodied & had every right to cry. It was not a fair fight. I've said before that I think some cases of confrontation are doomed & should not take place: much like the ditty we sang for grandson Jake when he was a baby—way down south where bananas grow, an ant stepped on an elephant's toe; the elephant cried with tears in his eyes 'Pick on someone your own darn size!'—if there weren't unequal contests, they wouldn't have invented the songs. Everybody roots for the underdog—otherwise where's the fun?
The true conundrum lies in the recognition that often the pro seeks out the amateur simply because s/he knows s/he'll win, and yet in the flurry, this point is overlooked. Said to have subliminal origins, with this ploy once again the pro wins & walks away guilt-free. It certainly runs in families; siblings of the pro can also perpetrate this same folly; having decades of practice & having applied for & been granted special dispensation, they cross over to the siblings' progeny to engage. It is unclear whether this is inter-generational; my personal view is 'not'. I feel that this is under my control even if others fall prey.
What makes a pro? Surely it is experience & wisdom. Skill must enter in. Some talent in the DNA. Exposure to other pros: hearing the wash of the tiles. There must also be a watershed moment when professionalism is attained, like menses. Somebody slaps you & there you are: a pro. Now, here's the question: do you at this point turn to your nearest human being & announce I'm a professional, associate with me at your peril or do you just go about your business. And if you have the urge, do you proselytize: Be a professional! It's the only True Way! There must be some way that you can proceed with integrity, yet not become a first-class gold-standard butt-hole with whom no one would share a soda, much less a conversation. One guy-pro I knew thought he was slumming & yet told us all at the first preview that this—slumming—was so. much. better. than the Other—not-slumming, I guess—that were it not for the moola, he would just chuck it & we all thought easy for you to say & I privately thought nincompoop & pretty much ignored him after that.
I think Jake was born a pro. He finds the spotlight, milks the laughs & has us right where he wants us.