Insane in the membrane…(insane in the brain!)

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social anxiety Every now an then I have a little cathartic moment–a revelation about myself, if you will. It’s surprising that at 35 years of age, I’m still learning about myself, but it’s true. Perhaps I’m not so much learning something new, so much as I am realizing it. Kind of like realizing that, without knowing it, every time CareerMom forces me to watch a movie with the likes of Brad Pitt, Will Smith or some other Hollywood hunk in it, when the “shirt off” scene finally appears, I’m scrutinizing his body as much as I would a woman’s, to see if he’s lost some muscle mass since his last shirtless film. Or whether being a dad has put a few more speedbumps on his chiseled form. Whatever, I just want to know if I’m holding up as well as he is. Most of the time, I’m disappointed.

But anyway, this past weekend, I discovered something else. For a few precious moments, I escaped from the whiney kids went out to run some errands. Somehow I ended up at Trader Joe’s. I don’t go there often because, while the place is great, it’s really geared for the person who buys food for the day; unlike myself, who bulk shops for groceries whenever possible.

We’ve been all a little blah around here lately, so I grabbed some fresh flowers and some nice Black Tea and headed up to the counter. I stood in line a couple of minutes as the shoppers in front of me chatted up the checkout guy. Finally it was my turn and I handed him my little basket and with my usual “eye avoidance,” I sidled over to the debit card reader. But, instead of just quietly bagging my stuff and letting me go, the checkout guy started talking to me.

“Oh, nice flowers. Great for a day like today.”

“Hmm, yeah they are nice,” I said.

“I’ve been wanting to try this stuff too, but it’s certainly a side dish and I’ve been waiting to find the right meat to have with it,” he said, referring to some spicy rice thing I’d picked up.

Quickly, I replied, “I’m going to have it with that Carne Asada steak. Should go well.”

I hoped that would end the conversation but it didn’t. And as we continued to speak, it occurred to me how much I dislike this banter. Not only does it make me terribly uncomfortable, but anyone who is this happy and perky, makes me suspicious.

Now folks, I have long known that I’m a “Glass is half empty” kinda guy, but this takes it to a whole new level. I mean, what kind of person looks for ulterior motives in someone who is being nice? I tell you what kind…the kind that clearly has issues.

Don’t get me wrong, I can, and do, act normal around other people. But most of the time, I have this internal monologue that’s saying, “RUN, FLEE! DO NOT LOOK THEM IN THE EYES OR THEY’LL SEE WHAT A FRAUD YOU ARE.”

Is that normal? I didn’t think so. And the dumb thing is, as much as I long for adult interaction, when I actually get it, I want to withdraw from it. Yeah, so I’m not OK, you’re not OK, the whole world is kinda weird.

Line forms to the left.

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7 thoughts on “Insane in the membrane…(insane in the brain!)

    birdpress said:
    January 13, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    I HATE when cashiers comment on anything I buy. Some of them just have to remark about everything. I make every possible effort to use U-scan where available. Best invention ever!

    From the way you started out, I thought this was going to end with your saying that the guy was coming on to you. 😉

    RE: You were just hoping I’d admit to being a bi! Come on, admit it!

    Eric said:
    January 13, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Just bag my stuff and let me go…

    There is a man who is a bagger at the Publix near our subdivision and every time “HIS” line seems to be open … and this is why..

    He acts like a perky, pessimistic dork of a man! He is the opposite of what you encountered…

    “Oh, you’re buying coffee creamer!?”

    “Yes,” I reply..

    “Must be nice to have those kind of luxuries in this economy!”

    “Uhhh…”

    I mean what do you say to that?

    RE: There should be a mute button, or an option that says, “Would you like to interact with this person?” I’m pretty sure mine would stay on “Mute”

    The Father of Five said:
    January 13, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Once again, I find our outlook on life so very similar…

    I am a person who (many years ago) quite enjoyed the interaction of others. I would actually seek it out. Somewhere along the line (about the time I stared working for the police department) my interest in “seeking out” the company of others dwindled to almost nothing.

    Nowadays, when I am places (like shopping) – I avoid contact with others. In fact, I choose my lane – not based on how fast I can get through… Oh, no – I choose my lane based on the cashier I think will talk to me less.

    And PLEASE… Do not even get me started on hair cuts. Very few things are more “creepy” for me than a hair cut…

    (I know.. The stereotype is that guys LOVE having women running their hands through their hair, brushing their boobies against them, and making all sorts of “small talk” making them feel good…but not me. Haircuts cause me untold anxiety.)

    I too have (and take ownership) of my own “issues”. It is something know about myself.

    Also (like you) I am able to “fake it” – and unless you knew otherwise – You’d never know that I was battling my own internal demons. I go out of my way to come across as “the nicest guy in the world”, and I would say overall – I am a pretty nice guy – but it comes at my own expense..

    – – – –

    pamajama said:
    January 14, 2009 at 2:37 am

    I LOVE this entry. Nothing like a guy who actually thinks about his internal self and why he does things, where his faults might lie, how they got there. Like Birdpress, I was relatively sure this dude was hitting on you, which related to the first section about your abs and how you’re holding up — obviously very well, since gay men have very high standards! I say this, (1) because I believe it’s true and (2) because thinking of the comment you left on my blog regarding this subject makes me snort. You were completely on target, thinking he wanted something from you – lol.

    At 48 your 35 years is so young! I’d say over the next 13 years you’ll become more comfortable with yourself — at least I did — relax a little bit — I did — and not second guess yourself quite as much. I have many of the same social issues & the face that shows none of it. When I waitressed I would cry before every shift, knowing I had to face strangers & talk to them. My inner & outer do not match. I am a fantastic fake! I really do like myself so much more since I hit my 40’s.

    I love people who have faults & actually want to keep getting better, who have such high standards that they fear they’re frauds when they’re really not. It’s the people who believe they’re better than fantastic that you’ve got to worry about.

    RE: Believe it or not (and I think you will), there are parts of getting older that I actually look forward to. One of them is, as you mentioned, being more comfortable with myself. One thing that I do, like ga-billions of others, is compare myself to other people. If I look at other 35 year olds that I know, many of them are still in great shape; therefore, I have no excuse not to be also. However, I figure when I’m in my late 40s and 50s, if I gain a few pounds, eh…who cares right? It’s expected.

    Allison said:
    January 15, 2009 at 7:37 am

    There’s a chance you might be clinically antisocial…however, it’s evident by the comments above and by my own thoughts at times that you are not alone. Thank goodness you didn’t have any feminine hygiene products for your wife or embarassing medications in your basket.

    RE: It’s funny you said that, or maybe it’s funny I blogged this…whatever. Last night I watched a movie called, “Charlie Bartlett.” It’s decently worthy of watching. Basically, it’s about a rich kid in a new school and to fit in, he starts peddling his Ritalin and Anti-Depressants to the other kids, including one very anti-social panic attack prone kid who ends up trying to off himself.
    For the record, I’m nowhere near that bad. At least, I don’t think I am.

    pamajama said:
    January 17, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    “I figure when I’m in my late 40s and 50s, if I gain a few pounds, eh…who cares right? It’s expected.”

    More than anyone I’ve ever listened to or read, your opinion of “old age” boggles my mind! 50 is not old, you will not want to be in bad shape at 60 either. If anything, you will be more concerned about not letting yourself go because of the health ramifications. Most of all, YOU remain the same person.

    What will change is the part where you give a shit about comparing yourself to the idiot next to you, moving toward caring more about what you think of yourself than what anyone else does. Obviously I haven’t gotten there completely though, cause it still makes me crazy that you think my huband and I, at 48 and 58, are nearing incompetence & incontinence!

    RE: Where you’re misunderstanding me, is in my view of the world. The people I compare myself against are not my neighbors, or the people I work with, because most of them are nowhere near in the same fitness-league as me and my peers. So, when I say 50, I’m fully aware that, while that’s only a mere 15 years away for me, in “gym” years, that’s an eternity. There just aren’t many 50 year olds in “great” shape. Nobody looks at a 50 year old person (no matter how young you may feel inside) and says, “If you lost that last 5 pounds, you’d be ripped!” I’m still at the point right now, but it won’t be long before I’m not.

    That’s my world view. So, don’t take what I say personally.

    pamajama said:
    January 18, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Pictures, please:) I really need to remember you’re closer in age to my son (+12) than you are to me (-13). God, how totally weird that you’re 35 and I can say that. WTF? Maybe we really should consider putting up a railing in the shower before we can no longer get around – LOL. (Please realize I’m laughing now & I was before, as well.)

    I think where we really differ is in the male/female mindset. From my perspective, anyway, women find it so much easier to overlook a beer belly & a 3-day beard than men can forgive an abdominal flap & cheesy butt cheeks (especially before the first marriage).

    I’m so much more attracted to a funny, nice guy who goofs around with me & makes me laugh — than a hot young 6-pack who’s looking in a mirror, checking the gel in his hair. I think women also find power more attractive than just about anything else, as proven by all the very attractive chicks with short, fat, bald guys. (Personally, I like bald:)

    Seriously, though, my husband is not “ripped” but in very good shape & from the neck down his body looks no different at 58 than it did at 42. I’m being totally serious & I’m JEALOUS. (He is probably much more active & works a little harder than the average man with a desk job.) His face, however, has had to live with me for 15 years and it shows:) Just a little:)

    RE: I envy those guys who can/do eat whatever they want and still keep that “lean” look. Seriously, if I have the equivalent of two shots of hard liquor two days in row, by the third day, I can tell I’m retaining water. It’s depressing that I both A) have this problem with weight gain and B) That I even notice stupid crap like that.
    You can blame my family (TrishaTruly) whose fights parallel my own; except perhaps I blog about it more!

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