Thursday, June 29, 2006


As a freshman in high school, I took German. As I have mentioned, I was tiny: very skinny, and shorter than all the girls in school. There were a couple of tall, muscular, popular guys in the class who were sophomores. I mean popular in the sense that most people didn't consider them beneath contempt, as they did me. These popular guys tolerated me. I wouldn't say they were my friends, but they were in-class friends. They actually seemed to enjoy my banter. I was amusing, like a talking dog.

So one day, one of the two calls me up, at home. His mom was in the background and he checked with her if it would be all right if he came over to my house on a certain day. He was friendly and bantering like in class.

I thought: "Wow, this is what social interaction is like for normal people!" I was glad to be considered normal, and wondered if maybe I was on the road to becoming normal.

I spent the interval day or days coming up with more of my weird, witty banter to amuse this guy. He was coming to my house, to see me, and hang out. I thought I should have some good material for him, make a good impression, maybe be accepted by the crowd ... and some day, a girlfriend! That would be after the Human Growth Hormone treatments, of course. Oh yes, even though it was only 1978, I knew about those.

So on the actual day, the guy comes over, wearing shorts, which showed the manly hairs on his bulky legs. I never wore shorts. I kept myself fully covered at all times.

He sat down in my house, about 10 feet from me, and I began to feel a bit of stage fright. I mean, how odd that he would come to me house to talk to me -- when he could get the same banter at greater convenience any school day.

I tried out my material on him, and he looked exhausted and bored. I remember now that his name was Eric. He looked like he was enduring something unpleasant. Trying to spark something in my audience, I tried more and more bits on him, faster and faster. He sank deeper into boredom and revulsion.

Then suddenly he stood up and said he had to go. I don't know how long he was there, but I'm going to guess only 10 or 15 minutes.

As a result of the incident, I considered myself a social failure. But not for very long. I knew I was a social failure, but it did very soon occur to me that Eric had used me as an excuse to get out from under his mom's thumb. Probably right after he left my place he went to party with his friends, or engage in some other illicit behavior.

I resented his using me, and treated him cautiously afterwards. I resolved that I would never agree to let a popular kid come 'hang out' with me when there was no apparant reason. And none ever asked again.

Lesson learned.
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