Sunday, February 21, 2010

Of Cookies and Human Dignity

Just saunter on it and say, "Good day, nice to meet you. What did you think of the sermon?" That's all you have to do. Don't slink to the side, cherry-pick conversations, steal a cookie and leave. Oh, no, that would be sad. Being social and interacting with the other naked apes is easy, and provides what has for you been rarer than unobtainium; dignity. A modicum of fucking dignity.

Yeah. I'm going to go get a cookie and a cup of coffee. After that, I'll simply and dispassionately listen to people converse with me, and affably respond when it is my turn to speak. Most of it will be small talk. After that, anything can bubble to the surface, from the mind to the mouth. You may hear about gyroscopes, Yodels, scientific pantheism, a joke, meta-ethical relativism and, of course, the presence of cookies.

That's right, my friends, I'm at a Unitarian Universalist coffee hour and I'm trying like hell to dip my toes backs into the pool of humanity. Why? Because I'm silly for rejection, it gets me going. There is nothing so rewarding as to reveal your thoughts about a subject, and to subsequently be looked at as a mental patient.

Usually, though, the look isn't there except in my mind. So I must push past the aforementioned inclination to bolt, dig up a little fortitude, and hold my ground. Coffee eventually finds it's way into my hand and the talk gets a little deeper. The probing a bit closer to tender spots that I am well-practiced in protecting.

My heart is beating quickly, forcefully...I can see the lapel on my jacket move slightly with every beat. And breathing is no longer automatic. It requires focus to take every breath. Sweat covers my chest and back.

I'm trying to be witty in my responses, and attentive, but casual. Affable, gregarious, one of the good guys. What Linda's father calls a, "White Hat." A reference to old westerns. But something is wrong. I'm too alert. My eyes look into the eyes of whomever is speaking, and they are questioning, which suits my passionate desire to fit in. To be interested. Or feign it. Whatever it takes. Whatever humans do.

People are beginning to mix again, and I move towards a pastry table. They look pert and fresh and could pass for some sort of frosted erotica. But pastry isn't on my mind, as I already have cookies in my jacket pocket. But by moving away, I'm signaling that the conversation is over. My head is spinning. Less than a minute later and out the door I go, into my 1993 Mercury Tracer with dents on the front left quarter panel. I put those dents there.

The morning was a clear success, as I got to know a couple of people and made my face familiar. But as I pass the Argentinian Restaurant on Mass. Ave., a feeling of absurdity envelopes me. As if I'm the only person on Earth to approach life in this milquetoast fashion.

1 comment:

Apocalypse Cow said...

Actually, I think you described social interaction for just about everyone. I know I'm no good at it. People who only know me casually say I'm a good listener, because I rarely talk in conversations other than to reflect back what the person had just said to me, shifted slightly. Thats because I never think I have anything useful to say, and when I do say something, I am woefully aware that I'm coming across like Cliffy from Cheers, too much words, not enough substance.