The Way Things Are






Onward and upward
2004-07-19, 10:04 a.m.

Plan B from outer space

OK, it's not Plan B - it's Phase 2. I skipped the last two days of Phase 1 on my infamous South Beach diet. I can have fruit, brown rice, whole wheat toast, cereal with lots of fiber and little sugar, sweet potatoes and wine. Thank ya!

The day is already looking up with brown rice on the horizon. Chicken salad with grapes and apples in it. Artificially sweetened yogurt with strawberries. A bowl of kashi for brekkies.

Today is Lil Guy's first day of golf camp. We got there early, as instructed, I got him signed in, and we stood around for a bit. He recognized another kid from previous years' golf camp, but was a little too shy to approach. I told him "It's hard for people like us, but you've got to do it. Here's the plan. I'm going to work. I'm going to walk right past that kid, and you're going to walk with me. When we get there, I'll keep going, and you're going to stop and say "hey"." So that's what happened. But he said "hi" a little too softly, so I stopped in my tracks, pulled him in a little closer and said "Say it louder." As I walked away, he was standing in a group of boys talking. It's magic.

The thing is, it really doesn't get much easier. But you learn that nothing bad is likely to happen when you do it. Intellectually, you know that nobody's going to snub you, even if they don't remember you, people around here are generally friendly, and you'll have fun and be better off if you walk up and say hi. But it never really gets much easier.

Lil Guy and I have shells. We have a choice between having a curmudgeonly crab shell, or a sweet crunchy candy shell. I think I have honed my shell into the latter. I just have to help my kid work on getting his the same. It's OK to be the shy person on the inside as long as you don't let it cripple you socially. I've gotten so good at acting like a non-shy person that I rarely acknowledge that person anymore - hardly know she's there unless I really think about it. Or when I see the same thing in my son. Poor thing - I think it must be some genetic predisposition in our manners or something.

I didn't have any help when I was growing up with overcoming my crippling social retardation. My parents really created it in me, I think. It's one thing to be shy and another to be a big flaming dork. I don't like to revisit the past and blame shit on my parents, but I can laughingly look back and recognize how they hampered my social development, and the moment in 10th grade when I realized I had to overcome it and learn to make friends. I knew what outgoing looked like, and I forced myself to emulate that. Guess what - I made friends. Lots of them.

So, I think Lil Guy has a good chance of overcoming it, especially when he has some help. From me, his socially experienced and brilliant mother.

Me, the woman who is catapulted into a panic at the thought of my husband throwing a b-day party for me. What if nobody comes? What if the illusion that I have friends and that people care about me is absofuckinlutely shattered, and my shame is there for DW to see. That I have no friends. Intellectually, I know I have friends. I would have people lined up to slap me in the face for even doubting their friendship. But the crab inside its shell (because I can't deny her presence) feels a shaky fear of rejection, snubbing, and isolation.

So even if I have a b-day party where it's me, DW and Don, I'll have fun. I'll just the giant flaming red L branded on my forehead for being friendless.

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