Friday, January 06, 2012


Earlier today a neighbor approached me as Annie and I were going for a walk along the Alewife Brook boardwalk, which is aesthetically and practically appealing. One is always at least three feet above the sand, rotting flora, and mud. It's new, too, and smells like wood. This pleases me.

This person had a story to tell, about quitting her job and moving in with her sister in Florida. She was excited. For ten minutes, every detail was related to me. Annie pulled on her leash, this way and that, all atwitter. Sadly (and this is true for almost everyone, except close friends, my wife, brother and father), my lack of interest began to turn into anxiety. People evoke choking anxiety in me.

My mind began to get fuzzy and I indicated my need to keep moving ("We better be getting home."), she smiled and kept walking in the opposite direction. Victory. But it took two hours for me to settle down. That's how absurd pathological anxiety can be. During the conversation, a patina of sincere curiosity appeared, and my disposition toward her turned affable, and that didn't help. Not one bit.

Recently an article came to my attention. It spoke about the difference between getting a piercing in the ear, lip, and nose, and more elaborate piercings about the face and body. The former were "jewelry," while the latter were an indication to other people to, "keep away." The ultimate example of this was given, and it was Johnny Rotten's diaper pin rammed into his cheek, which the author felt said, "Keep away, lest you may get blood on yourself."

I'm not a piercing person, but it got me thinking about "props" that anxious people use to distract and/or compel others to move away, which avert judging eyes and attention, even in conversation. It gives the nut-cake a way to fiddle with something. Or perhaps move consideration to a thing. One person I know uses a cane, which doesn't seem like it would be effective, but he claims it is.

So I've been thinking about the tactic that I may use. A list:

1. Bone through the nose (not likely).
2. A bio-hazard suit, which may be overdoing it.
3. An odd pin, perhaps, "Ralph Nader for President."
4. An eye-patch (my favorite idea).
5. NASCAR belt buckle and a "truck balls" key chain.
6. A Bible.
7. Dr. Who scarf.
8. Voodoo doll, always in hand.
9. A Keyser Soze style walk, straight from, "The Usual Suspects."
10. PBS tote bag.

Perhaps all of them together.

I'm not anti-people, but direct, unplanned contact with others freaks me out a bit, unless I've been drinking, or chewing on Vicodin. Actually, I like people and enjoy their stories, but only in print, preferably after they're dead. Aldous Huxley's, "Down and Out in Paris and London" is like that. How close I feel to him, and the people he writes about, it's very comforting to me. But face to face, I'm all thumbs, so to speak.

Hmmm. An eye-patch...yes. That might do quite nicely.


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