Look, I really am quite mad. I know people don’t think so. They seem to think I’m moderately well-adjusted. But that’s the result of decades of somewhat disturbing levels of practice. Frankly I consider such a mistaken impression to be a quite explicit compliment to my intelligence, which is arguably NOT something that serves my ego very well.
“No you’re not. You’re selling yourself short.” Or “You’re too hard on yourself.” Which is adorable because I’m nowhere NEAR hard enough on myself.
The amount of energy I spend…that I HAVE to spend literally practicing being normal absolutely defies what most people would think of as logical. MOST of what comes out of my mouth I’ve practiced. And when I say most I mean something on the order of 97-98 percent of the sentences I come out with have been literally rehearsed. I’ve built conversation trees in my head over decades. I’ve listened and eavesdropped and added what I’ve heard and overheard to the giant conversation tree.
“Dude you don’t REALLY do that.”
So that in those moments I find myself in conversation I don’t have to think overmuch, because in my normal headspace when it comes to the normal ebb and flow of social interaction my brain locks up almost completely.
This way I don’t have to rely on thinking at all. I can just lean back, stress out and let my mouth just go.
I’ve gotten so comfortable with this that I forget it’s even going on. Yesterday I was reminded quite starkly when a conversation took a turn I was simply not ready for. I’d had an erroneous prediction as to the way it was going to go and I got completely fucking blindsided. Now it wasn’t BAD in any way at all. A friend of mine was doing me a solid favor and I just did NOT see it panning out the way it did. I ended up clamming up, just shaking with nerves.
It was a conversation over text message so it wasn’t visibly apparent that my brain was just seizing up. But the disadvantage of that was that I couldn’t really cope with it ad-hoc, reading the conversation and fessing up to what happened to my head.
I responded a bit…perfunctorily and spend the next few hours in a damned tailspin as I tried to figure out how to handle it all.
So that’s pretty much the rule…
UNLESS AND UNTIL I’m comfortable with who I’m speaking with. Now that can happen one of a couple/few ways:
- I’ve known you long enough and am less worried about how the conversation’s going to go. Said another way: If I think I’ve built up enough good will and social capital with you, I can relax a bit. It’s not always based on time known. But then again, neither is knowing someone. Sometimes you just hit it off with someone and can cut through the bullshit.
- I’m drucking funk. Nothing chills my brain the hell out like 3 glasses of whiskey or rum, or half a dozen vodka sodas.
I could pretend that’s not true I suppose. But I don’t see the sense in it. Alcohol lowers inhibitions. As such it’s really a minor miracle I drink as rarely as I do, though over the last few days I’ve sure put a hurting on some bottles of great rum at the cigar lounge.
I wondered, as I wrote this, if this meant that I, by my own definition, wouldn’t classify as An Interesting Person until at least one of those criteria is satisfied. I’m willing to take that hit.
But I like to think it’s not true. I’m not ‘a dishonest participant’ in conversation even at what I’ve got to call my “most contrived.” I just keep it bounded until something happens that actually engages my interest and I can actually fucking relax a bit.
Obvious reasons aside (an honest conversation that advances the ball), it is for this one primarily that I seek Interesting People, as previously defined. I can fucking relax around them.
Maybe it’s a matter of trusting myself. Maybe I just need to get back on Ritalin (or some such concoction.)
It’s as though I’m exerting 100% effort (I’m not) and 20% of it is going in the right direction. I’m still shy by a factor of 4.
All in all I’m really quite tired of it. But I’m not sure what to do from here but what I’ve been doing.
So on it goes.