Tongue-tied with a sudden sharp ache in my chest as my faltering heart becomes overrun with an adrenal sneak-attack. The prospect, the very idea, of attempting communication– the simple art of opening my mouth and flooding the local atmosphere with my wit and humour– sends shock-waves through by body, one powerful surging tide of anxiety laying waste to vital organs and clumsy limbs alike. Just a little self-contained Nagasaki, babies bursting into flames created by the friction caused when I come into contact with the outside world. An extreme example: another collision with a mystery wandering around the neighborhood where I find myself employed. For all intents and purposes she remains a fictional character, an empty husk in a demure coat flitting from vague instances of imagination to the busy streets of anonymous obstacles clogging my day like a drowned rat clogs a toilet when you try and flush the little bastard. However, as these non-interactions become more frequent the little monkey living in the back of my brain where the lizard became the man has begun to take a pair of pliers to various nodes and nodules responsible for a variety of impulses best left alone. Yet as the growing desire or compulsion to attempt some form of communication beyond awkward eye contact and reflexive looking away there also grows the more overwhelming physiological impact of a possible exchange. But as I said this is an extreme example. Typically social interactions are fraught with nausea, faintness, a burning desire to leave and my hands and mouth cross-dressing. It’s a very rare occasion when I find myself at a party and a nearly extinct one where I leave feeling that the evening wasn’t yet another challenge to my right of existence. Against any available wall-space or tucked into some convenient corner a mental checklist is checked more thoroughly than any examination by Santa Claus or the CIA. I don’t know how to behave, how to approach anyone, how to effortlessly and naturally become part of a conversation, how to think, how to dress, how to talk and even if I did what the fuck am I gonna talk about? There’s a million and one rules of engagement in any social

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gathering and I will violate each and everyone until I’ve shamed the poor sods who invited me into leaving to make sure I get home okay. Not that I need to go to parties and attempt to fit in, make nice, meet people or enjoy myself. This is an avoidable pitfall and nine times out of ten I’m smart enough or balanced enough to decline any well-intentioned invitation to leave the safety of my little hovel. Unfortunately, while life is full of parties, it’s also full of various obligations which require even more stringent application of communication skills and an ability to stand in the correct line with the correct paperwork and the correct questions and answers. I’ll be taking to the friendly skies soon and my excitement about this impending vacation is tempered by an acute fear of dealing with the airport, getting stressed out and anxious, then boarding a death-trap which will use the force of gravity against my stomach and fill my head with visions of corrupted fuselage breaking apart. I’ve been told there will have to be an exchange with the plastic smiles lurking behind the check-in counter instead of the animosity expressed by the automated tellers. I think the last time I checked-in through the counter one of my bags was x-rayed and my other bag and I were both stopped by security and humiliated publicly. This would be more of a brick-wall in my life if my job was better paying and I found reason to, I dunno, check out pyramids somewhere. Trouble commences whenever I need to ask someone at a store where something might be– I know that it won’t exist until I ask some over-worked and under-paid future assistant manager for life who will drop everything they’re doing to take me right back to where I was looking and politely point out the neon lights and bells and whistles surrounding the product of choice. Hell, ask the guy down at one of my liquor stores how well I deal with paying the correct amount. Then there are times in your life where you have to enter some strange place with bad carpeting and worse lighting where employees have compulsory attire and perfect, white teeth. A faint memory of intentions long drugged, murdered and dismembered slowly began to haunt me after reading an article detailing the recent protests which briefly interrupted the shareholders’ meeting for Berkshire Hathaway. (more…)

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