(Ain’t but two things come outta Sundays: football and Secondhand SCIENCE. And this don’t look like no pigskin, son.
Actually, it does a little. Because this week’s science subject is the nude mouse, a genetic researcher’s teeniest, wrinkliest, baldest best friend. Give it a look.
Also! Don’t forget that our Magicland webseries is competing in The Online Film Festival this month. You can vote, if so moved, once a day every day in December. Check us out at #TOFF!)
I generally face my fears head-on.
(Well, sort of head-on. Sometimes, they have to take a number and wait in line until I can get to them. But I do. Head-on. Ish.)
That works for a bunch of fears. I was afraid of heights, so I went skydiving. Heights aren’t nearly so terrifying any more. Nervous about public speaking? Do a couple years of standup; that’ll take care of that (and break a bunch of other stuff, good lord). Scared of the dark? Bugs Bunny nightlight. Boom. Head-on.
But there’s one fear I’ve never been able to shake. Maybe it’s too big, or sunk too deep in the tar pits of my psyche. Maybe I can’t take it head-on because I don’t know where its head is, exactly. Or whether it has one. What is this bugaboo?:
Fear Of Being A Dick
In my book, this trumps pretty much all the other fears. You can have your fear of missing out, fear of flying, fear of spiders, fear of Tears for Fears — all of them. Those fears only kick in in certain situations. But FOBAD? It’s everywhere.
The problem is, I don’t really understand how the rules of society work on your planet. Which I guess is also my planet and society and rules, but it’s often hard to remember that, because I have no idea how normal people are supposed to behave. Every situation involving other people is positively fraught with complication. Like a “simple” bus ride:
“What about this old lady I’m sitting on? Was that wrong?”
Am I standing in someone’s way? Should I be sitting down? If an old lady enters, should I get up? If a not-old lady comes and I get up, will she think I’m calling her old? What about this old lady I’m sitting on? Was that wrong?
That’s FOBAD. Anything I do — or don’t do, or already did — could be the wrong thing, at the wrong time, and at the wrong person. The possibilities, and thus the opportunity to be dead seriously dickishly wrong, are endless. I wind up holding doors for people thirty yards behind me. Talking about myself at parties might be selfish; asking about other people could be creepy. I haven’t taken the last piece of food in over thirty years.
(That’s not technically true. I have taken the last piece of food before. But only if there are multiple pieces left, and after a lengthy negotiation with other people about who should take what, to make sure everyone is equitably served. Negotiating the Treaty of Versailles took less effort than finishing some of the pizzas I’ve been involved in eating.)
Any siutation can suck you in, and put the pressure on you to not be a dick. Like as a guest at a friend’s family’s dinner party, when somebody’s grandma gives you a big grin and picks her nose.
How do you respond appropriately to that? If there’s an etiquette handbook covering barely-acquanted octogenarians digging for gold over tapas, I haven’t read it. I would remember that, I’m certain. In its absence, I’m left to the options I can think of, all of them terrible:
Do I swallow my horror and smile back? Offer her my napkin — which I do not want back, under any circumstances? Pick my own nose in solidarity? Pick her nose, since she still has a nostril free?
I don’t have good answers to these questions — or to many others. With FOBAD, there are no good answers. Just a long string of fears, errors, personal failings and a certain quote from Gary Oldman’s character in The Professional coming to mind:
“What… filthy piece of shit did I do now?”
That’s fear of being a dick, kids. Fear it.Permalink | No Comments