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Her Awkward Valentine February 4, 2015

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.

When I think back as Valentine’s Day approaches I have to say it’s a miracle I’m married.  Here am I: socially awkward, physically awkward, emotionally awkward.  I’m so introverted it’s almost physically painful to interact with people, and yet I force myself every day because we have to, right?  Unless we have an inexhaustible support system of people willing to allow us to become hermits, we need gainful employment and we have to interact with someone.  Let me stay in my fantasy “man-cave,” and let people I don’t have to talk to bring me steaks and other diverse meat offerings, my favorite vegetables, pasta dishes, pizza, desserts, pies, and ice creams of various flavors, and good coffee.  Lots of good coffee. What a nice dream.

How in the world do people engineer a social support structure that enables them to be like that?  I see the TV featuring the human interest stories about hoarders, morbid obesity, homelessness and other social situations, and although I don’t fit into that kind of category I want a hermitage.  I want a place I can go, where I don’t have to worry about money, and things I want and need appear, like the perfect room service might offer.  “Hello, Jeeves, or Alfred, or Barrymore, or whatever your name is, send me up a nice medium porterhouse, with butter-sauteed onions added to the red wine deglaze, steak sauce, baked potato with butter, sour cream and seasoned salt and pepper, some al dente steamed broccoli, and 34 ounces of cold beer.  And after dinner, perhaps some vanilla ice cream and fruit pie, on separate dishes.  …Oh, today is Cherry pie?  That’s just fine.”

Don’t make me talk to people face to face.  I probably don’t remember your name.  You should know I feel guilty because I don’t. Don’t make me apologize and ask again.  If I have to see you, book an appointment with my receptionist, Janet, or Susan, or Erin, or whatever her name is, so she can tell me who in the world I’ll be talking to and what it’s about, and excuse the pajamas, bathrobe and slippers.  Another rich man fantasy.

I walk with a limp and am very uncoordinated.  I used to be more aware of people staring, especially in school when they noticed my right hand hovering limply up at my rib cage.  The bullies back then were their own support group, and the victims didn’t get the intervention supposedly available today.  So I had to toughen up and take whatever they dished out: verbal, or physical abuse, and any of a variety of forms of teasing.  I have a list of people I still remember, that I should hate for what they did and said.  But in my fantasy world, none of them matter.  I need a place I can go where no one picks on me for my physical differences.  The people I trust enough to let in to my world accept me for who and what I am, and they still offer support and encouragement.

On TV and in movies there are socially awkward characters whose intelligence is beyond that of ordinary mortals.  They think differently, they talk differently, they have a sense of entitlement, and on TV they don’t seem to lack anything they need, or they’re able to persuade their social support group to facilitate their awkwardness.  My IQ has been measured and I confess it’s so high I’m literally some kind of brilliant idiot, but I’m still jealous of the character’s teams of people who deliver food, help pick out clothes, provide transportation and other services, and the financial support the character either inherited or arranged.

I haven’t been diagnosed with any kind of -ism, but I’m very much aware of my mental tendencies.  I could disclose several, but it’s pointless.  Suffice it to say that what -isms I have don’t affect me in any profound ways.  I’m what’s called “high-functioning” because I’ve been forced to cope with them and deal with life just like any other person does.  But it’s my emotions when things don’t go as I’d like, or just in the normal course of life, that are difficult to manage.  I have a low tolerance threshold for frustration and a short attention span unless it’s something that interests me enough to get invested.

I want a place where I can vent my feelings and be myself, without the world shoveling that life-is-what-you-make-it-so-be-positive-and-expect-good-things crap at me.  In my family we are sensitive, and well aware that sometimes life hands you crap and you have to make something useful out of it in spite of, and things frequently (here read “always”) fall apart and we have to figure out a way to fix or replace or ignore them.  Here, take my man-card, sometimes I just want to have a good cry, or yell, or throw things, and not worry about the cost to fix or replace whatever latest thing that broke.  Sometimes I just want to be left alone.  And I don’t ever seem to be allowed to be alone long enough to satisfy that want.  There’s always something that must be done, and requires my participation.  I want a place where I don’t have to participate as a given, taken for granted.  I want a place where my participation is celebrated when I’m emotionally available, and not required when I’m not.

In my house, I dislike the buzzers and bells and alarms unless they’re tied to a recipe in the kitchen.  I have the washer and dryer alarm bells turned off.  The doorbell rarely goes off.  The grandfather clock doesn’t even chime.  I don’t answer the phone unless my caller starts to leave a message and I happen to be home and want to talk.  If I had my way, the ringer would be off and I’d only call people I wanted to, when I wanted to.  But the kids do want, need, and have a social life, so the door and the phone is for them more than for me.  I stay in my corner until something is required or requested, and most often it’s the kids wanting food, which I am happy to prepare.  Occasionally they just need an encouraging word or a hug, I’m happy to oblige.  Sometimes they just need someone to listen, and most of the time I can get out of my own emotional tortoise shell just long enough to endure, because “love is patient and kind.”  I need that for myself too!  But sometimes I wish we had a nanny.  And a counselor-on-call.  And a chef.  And a valet.  And a private home-school tutor.  And a chauffeur.  And…

How did I manage to get married and have children?  Well, miracles never cease.  I did campaign long and worked hard to secure the relationship, but in the end it was her choice.  The miracle is, she loves me enough to put up with me, to a point.  I can’t go to medium- or low- functioning; she won’t put up with that.  I don’t think my friends would offer the kind of financial or other support mechanisms I would need to go where I really feel like going sometimes, so I can’t go, and I’m just high-functioning enough to not go wherever that is.  Or maybe I’m scared of the consequences of going there, and not sure of how I would get out when I was ready.  She drags me out of my protective shell, helps me to deal with the crises of life when I need help, allows me a degree of emotional release and escape.  She loves me.  I’m very fortunate, one might even say “blessed.”  Somehow she fell in love with me long years ago, and in spite of myself she’s still here.

I’d love a place where finances didn’t matter.  Where I am provided whatever I need.  Where people leave me alone and don’t demand my attention, or pick on me.  I need a place where things don’t fall apart and require repair or replacement.  I need a place where I can cry, or laugh, or express whatever insanities or darknesses creep out, without being judged.  The way my heart cries out for a safe place, though my world is not particularly “dangerous,” I can’t believe anyone else is very different.  I believe everyone needs a place like I’m describing.

Maybe I’m just special, because I always feel that way.  I’m very aware of how I would like things, and my wife has taken to saying something about me “living in [my] perfect world.”  It’s almost Valentines Day, I’m awkward, but I’m Her Awkward Valentine.  So I guess I do have a place like that, at least when we’re not talking about life’s ills.  My spot, when I can get there, is in her arms.  Now, if we could just do something about the alarm clock…



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