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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

No, Dammit, How Are You Doing?

I scream, you scream, we all scream for blog. Um, cream. Blog cream. Whatever that is.

Okay, kiddies, as promised (in the last post), this is going to be fairly brief. I’ve got to get myself all rested up for the barbecue tomorrow. We’re expecting quite a few people; this will be the biggest party we’ve thrown in quite a while. Or should be, anyway, unless our friends are just saying they’ll come as a joke. Which would sort of suck, I suppose. On the other hand, we’d be waist-deep in beer-soaked bratwurst and beef patties, which certainly doesn’t sound like a bad thing. Oh, and we’d have approximately five and a half cases of beer to ourself, not to mention the martini and margarita fixings. Well, shit, now I don’t know what the hell I want.

(I’m on a mission, by the way, to take ‘fixings’ back from the yokels in the southern U.S. who’ve bastardized it to mean ‘intend’. As in, ‘I’m a-fixin’s to marry y’all, Maw.’ Enough, I say. Let them have ‘holler’ and ‘durn’ and ‘git’. They’ve already been irretrievably soiled; those words are dead to me now. But ‘fixins’, I think we can save. Help me out here, folks. Just use it every once in a while, would you? Not every day — just once, maybe twice a week. Get it back in circulation. Right now, the only time we civilized folks hear about ‘fixings’ is on Thanksgiving, or at Boston Market. But anything that has ‘accouterments‘ today can have ‘fixings‘ tomorrow. You don’t have a ‘tangle of cables’ behind your entertainment center; you’ve just got ‘electrical fixings‘. And ladies, you don’t have to match your accessories to your outfit any more. Just ‘coordinate your fixings‘. Really. Try it — you’ll like it. Let’s get this one word back from the heathens, shall we?)

So, anyway, I don’t expect our friends to ditch our bash tomorrow. We should have lots of people to greet, and feed, and get drunk. It’ll be fun. Well, except the greeting part, I’m afraid. See, I’m a natural introvert.

(Yes, I tend to hide it rather well. Thank you, dozens of strangers to which I’m broadcasting, for pointing that out. You’re very perceptive.)

So, yes, I do cope with my affliction fairly well. But it sometimes involves little tricks that I have to use to help me break out of my shell. And one of the most common tricks is thinking about what I’m going to say before I say it.

(If only politicians and in-laws could learn to do the same.)

Now, I don’t always do this, of course — for one thing, I’d have to spend all of my time thinking about all the situations that might possibly arise during the day, and come up with something to say no matter what happens. Clearly, that’s not feasible. Oh, it would be nice to have that pithy remark at the ready when Maggie strips off her pants and goes scooting across the floor, or Joe suddenly slumps over dead, but I just don’t have that kind of time. Would that this were a simpler world.

But I do tend to prepare myself for likely scenarios. Not far in advance, you understand — just a few seconds. I like to have something ready, just to prevent the garbled asininery that I just naturally think of from spilling out of my mouth. And it’s a constant struggle. So, I plan ahead. And one of the situations I plan for is the greeting. When I see a friend approaching, I think fast, so I can have an appropriate salutation ready when we actually begin speaking.

And this serves me very well. For one thing, it makes me think about the person’s name. I’m horrible with names. It’s some kind of brain deficiency, I suspect. Tragic, really. But the truth is, I often draw blanks on people’s names, and sometimes even with close friends, just for a second or two. So it’s certianly better to have that second or two of panic before I’m actually talking to the person, rather than after. Sure, I may look pained, and then nervous, and finally relieved while I’m walking toward the person, as I fumble to look up their name in my head and then finally get it. But nobody ever calls me on that, as long as I’m ready when the curtian goes up on the actual conversation. Probably, they just think I’m breaking wind on my way over to them. Which is not good, I suppose, but still better than having a childhood chum realize that I have no idea what the hell to call him. There are levels of embarrassment out there, and that’s very near the top of the list. Or at least the portion of the list that doesn’t involve removing your pants.

So, anyway, I get by most of the time. When someone comes over to shake my hand or wave hello, I’m usually ready. I know who they are, I know what I’m going to say, and I know where my pants are. So I’m confident. But there’s one teensy problem in all of this, and it happens every so often, to my great embarrassment. And this is the problem:

When the person that I’m greeting decides to say — or just spontaneously says, if they’re a more well-adjusted person than I — exactly the thing that I was going to say, I’m screwed.

So, if I walk up to my buddy prepared to say to him, ‘Hey, how’s it going?‘, and he speaks first, saying, ‘Hey, how’s it going?‘, then I’m just fucked. I’ve got nowhere to go from that. One of two things happens at that point. In one scenario, my mouth, well-rehearsed and ready to go, gets ahead of my brain and deadpans, ‘Hey, how’s it going?‘ This, of course, makes me sound like a parroting buffoon. Now the person, who was this close to having a real, live, normal conversation with me, has no idea what I’m up to. Am I mocking him or her? Am I going to repeat every damn thing he or she says? Am I just a fucking moron? They don’t know. They just know that they’ve made a big mistake in coming over to talk to me, and should have learned their damned lesson before. Clearly, no good can come of conversing with me.

Now, if I’m thinking quickly enough, I can go down the other road, but it’s usually no better. Sometimes my brain will catch on to what’s happening just in the nick of time, and detour the mouth before it gets me in trouble. That’s detour, not stop. At that point, the mouth has to say something, or it’ll seem rude. There’s a greeting — my greeting, the ‘how’s it going‘-stealing bastard! — hanging in the air, and it must be answered. It simply must. So my brain does it’s best with an already-moving mouth, and throws whatever material it can manage down the neurons to my vocal cords. Nearly always, there’s just not enough time to put together a full, coherent thought, test it out privately for grammar and tone, and get it down to the speech center. No, this shit has to happen fast, with no editing, and so I usually end up saying something like:

Um. Guh. What are you going?

or the ever-popular:

Erk. Uh, how’s it shaking?

Clearly, I’m a moron. And a slow-witted moron, at that. Sure, I can think fast on my feet when I think I’m in trouble or about to be arrested, but when I’m just saying hello to a close personal friend? I’m Jell-o. Brainless goo. Katie Couric. I’ve just got nothing. It’s one of the many crosses I have to bear. Pity me, dear reader. Pity me now.

So, I have just a bit of dread mixed in with the excitement for the barbecue later today. With all of those people coming over, I’m sure to run into this problem at least once, and probably several times. You know, I think I’ll try a radical solution. Nothing else has worked, so why the hell not? I think tomorrow, if someone walks in the door and steals the line I’m about to greet them with, I think I’ll just punch them in the face. Man, woman, child — I don’t care. Hey, it’s not nice, but at least if I’m gonna feel like an ass, I’ll have a good reason, right? I think this could work.

Well, I’m glad we had this little chat. I feel much better about tomorrow already. And hey, I know it’s short notice, but if you’re in the neighborhood, you should stop by. We’ve got plenty of food, and boatloads of alcohol, and it’s gonna be a blast. And you’ll like our friends. They’re cool and shit. Just watch what you say to me when you get to the party, all right? Greet me in Spanish, or Pig Latin, or some shit like that. Better yet, just let me start the talking. ‘Cause otherwise, you’re just rolling the dice. And if you say the wrong thing, your first taste of the barbecue might be a knuckle sandwich. I don’t want that, of course, but clearly, I can’t be held responsible for what I might do. After all, you’ve just been warned.

Permalink  |  1 Comment

One Response to “No, Dammit, How Are You Doing?”

  1. RRaccoon says:

    Hehe! You’re a tard.

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