It may have come to your attention that I can be a little neurotic. I like to think that it’s the charming kind of neurotic, sort of like Woody Allen but with less “married to my adopted daughter”, which obviously would never happen because a) it’s creepy and b) I still have commitment issues.
If you suspect that you, too, have a touch of the neurosis about you, I do not suggest reading the Wikipedia page about it. Here’s a fun sample: “The term essentially describes an ‘invisible injury’ and the resulting condition.” Invisible injuries? That’s precisely the kind of thing that keeps high-strung, anxious people such as myself awake at night.
The whole page is pretty scary, but I was pleased to read that the list of symptoms includes dependency and aggressiveness, which I can safely say I haven’t demonstrated. (Don’t you guys think I’m independent and unaggressive? Don’t you? DON’T YOU?!)
Anyway, you will not be shocked to hear that a lot of things in this world make me very uncomfortable. As users of the internet, I’m sure you’re very aware that there are a lot of things on this super weird planet that would make anyone uncomfortable. In fact, that’s basically the entire premise of 4chan. Those aren’t the kinds of things I’m talking about, though. There are things that normal people do every single day that make me so inexplicably uneasy that I sometimes lose the ability to function.
Things that Make Me Incredibly Uncomfortable for No Good Reason
1. Getting food in buffet-style situations. I’m really good at eating food. I list it on my resume, right above “Experience with Adobe Creative Suite” and “Naturally Big Hair”. I’ll eat almost anything in front of anyone, and I’m even pretty good at ordering food once I understand the menu. For some reason, I cannot put food on my plate in a buffet line without becoming extraordinarily self-conscious about my pasta salad-scooping etiquette or worrying I’ll squirt condiments on everyone.
2. Telling people what I’m reading. Sometimes I read incredibly embarrassing things like romance novels, or Cosmo. Most of the time, however, the stuff I read is not embarrassing at all. Nevertheless, I immediately get weird when someone asks what I’m reading. It’s not that I don’t like talking about books. In fourth grade I went as Jo March from Little Women for Halloween. The year after that, I picked a Harry Potter-themed costume. Not Hermione, or Ginny Weasley, or even Harry. I asked my mom specifically for a Professor McGonagall costume. That’s the kind of thing that invites discussion and concerned looks. I’ll happily talk for hours about my Song of Ice and Fire theories, but for the love of all that is holy, let me bring them up on my own.
3. Talking about children to parents. I was a kid myself fairly recently, but I remain incapable of having a conversation about them with parents. I think it’s because of my lack of personal experience. I just know the next thing out of my mouth is going to be, “How ’bout those babies, huh? Can’t… shake… those guys…” and then I’ll kind of trail off and try as hard as I can to sink into the floor.
4. Using the telephone. I spent five months in a job where my only duty was to call total strangers and ask them for favors, 12 hours a day. The accidental immersion therapy failed, though. I still approach the phone like it’s a wild animal that’s going to bite my face off as soon as I put the receiver to my ear, and I should pay people to listen to the messages I leave. Damn you, Alexander Graham Bell!
5. People seeing my toothpaste tube. Within three days, all of my toothpaste tubes end up with a huge glob of dried up paste surrounding the mouth. I’ve never been able to get through a tube cleanly, so I’ve stopped trying. Now I just pull off the glob every few days, only sometimes I forget, and then people come over and see my super gross toothpaste glob on the tube and probably make assumptions about my dental hygiene. And of course I’m self-conscious about my teeth already, so I have to unfriend them without telling them why and hope they move to another country, and it’s all because of that STUPID GLOB ON THE STUPID TUBE.
6. Marriage proposal videos. Aw. They’re so in love! He’s so creative! She’s so happy! What kind of monster doesn’t like marriage proposal YouTube videos? THIS KIND. If they’re in public, I can’t stop thinking about how weird that probably was for the strangers who didn’t know what was happening. If they’re elaborate musical numbers, I keep picturing the dude asking his relatives to participate in a gooey, choreographed love fest. Bleh.
7. Listening to someone else’s favorite song with them. Unless the person insisting that you listen to their favorite song is your soul mate, and all of your interests match up so perfectly you’ve begun to wonder if you’re actually twins separated at birth who should absolutely not be in a relationship, there’s a good chance that the song they pick is not also your favorite song. It’s really hard to fake the level of enthusiasm people expect. I don’t know the “This Is A Musical Revelation!” face and if I did, I would make it in private because it’s probably not attractive.
I wish I wasn’t like this. I want to seize the day like the self-realized people that Wikipedia article talks about. One psychoanalyst compared achieving self-realization to being like an acorn that grew into a tree. I feel like a acorn with a growth sticking out of it that might become a tree but might also turn out to be a mutated fungus that everyone’s immediately afraid of.
Maybe I am seizing the day, in my own way. I’m squeezing every last drop of awkward out so I can experience it all.
As verbose as some of my blog posts can be, I’m a pretty quiet person in real life.
I come from a family of bookish nerds, so I’m introverted by nature and nurture, which probably has something to do with it. Another piece of it is self-preservation, I guess. Years of observation have taught me that sometimes stupid things come out of people’s mouths. I still say the darndest things, so it’s not like silence makes me immune, but it definitely cuts down on the sheer volume of dumb things I could be saying.
When I was four, I had a conversation with my best friend’s brother, who was a few years older than us. I don’t remember how it started, but I do remember that he was bragging about all the cool things older kids could do.
My response to this was to say, “But you can’t shoot a cannon even if you wanted to, huh?” He had no comeback.
In his defense, if someone were to say the same thing to me today, I would also be at a loss for words. For some reason, to my four-year-old self, the ability to shoot a cannon was the mark of adulthood. When you’re responsible enough to man a heavy piece of war machinery, you’re responsible enough to be a grownup.
My friends and I whine about becoming grownups a lot. There’s just so much stuff you have to do and none of it involves cannons.
It’s April, which means it’s prom season again, and that means all of the sudden everyone wants to talk about high school.
We all know at least one person who is still hung up on high school. Talking to them is like listening to Springsteen’s “Glory Days” while watching a montage of John Hughes movie shenanigans. These are weird people, and those of us who spent high school writing resentful lists in our friend’s boyfriend’s old notebooks will go out of our way to avoid them.
The truly great thing about this planet is that it’s full of all kinds of people, some of them horrible, some of them charming, and all of them occasionally smelly.