Sadly, I do. It's a curse, really, even though if you were to trap me in a corner and simulate Chinese water torture I'd swear up and down I don't believe in such rubbish as "curses" and "demon possession" and "compassionate conservatism." No, what I'm speaking of is something I know afflicts myself and my youngest sister: Shyness being interpreted as snobbery.
Dude: If I give you a Jell-O shot, will you talk to me?
Me: Huh? Why wouldn't I talk to you?
Dude: (rolls eyes) Whatever, here.
Me: (to Rich) What was that?
Rich: You know...
Unless you who know me (you know who you are...), I come off as confident, vivacious, optimistic and happy-go-lucky, but if you don't (as some of you who know me remember), most of you thought I didn't like you when we first met--and, as at least one of you knows, I didn't! (At first... :D)
Luckily for me, first impressions can and do change. But it's hell meeting people. Believe it or not, I am the shy, quiet type until you get to know me and I actually feel comfortable being around you. And from my quiet, imposing, silent-type father I inherited a stern, smoldering look that comes off to others as snobbishly sexy. From my mother I inherited a free-spirit hippie earth-child love-of-life. In reality, this means I come off as snobbish until I get to know you, and then it's no-holds-barred, you're-going-to-hear-every-passing-thought-between-my-ears-spew-out-from-my-lips-even-if-it-should-be-filtered time.
It's like the first time I went to a bar up in Wilkes-Barre by myself (which to most comes off as confident) and sat at the bar for two hours before anyone spoke to me, and that conversation started off as:
See? All you need to do is say hi!! How hard is it?
Dude: Um, are you okay?
Me: Uh, yeah? I think so...?
Dude: You have that "I'm mean as hell so don't talk to me" look, so my friend and I made a bet, so...
Me: Why do I suddenly feel as if I'm in a teenage chick-flick where I end up with a broken heart because it started off as a bet and ended up true love, but I won't find out for another half an hour?
Dude: (Laughs) Yeah, well, let's hold off on true love for a bit yet, shall we?
Rich also thought I was a snob when we first met. It was outside of a church, you see, my first time there, and Rich, a stunning masculine hulk of a man, was the usher. When the services ended, I was outside being mobbed by every old pervert wanting to make conversation and probably hoping to get a boy-toy of some type. As Rich was leaving, dark curls blowing in the wind as he drove by in his sea-foam green convertible, he waved. Since I didn't know who he was from Adam, I assumed he was waving at someone he knew in the group of people I was standing there with! Apparently, however, this was his attempt at making a connection with me in the hopes of... Well, getting a boy-toy of some type! It took him a few more months to get me to give him the time of day... :)
As we come up on our eleventh year together (sometimes seemingly longer, sometimes seemingly shorter...), it's good to know most people stick around long enough to get to know me. As a teen, I had very few friends, and even fewer acquaintances. Like my 16th birthday party: a Disaster! How many people invited, and only two show up? Or when the soccer coach decided to ask in front of the whole team on our first day, "Hey, you, kid--you a boy or a girl?" (To this day I wonder why he couldn't start off with something like, "Hey, kid, what's your name?") Or when a certain young lady, while waiting for the bell after biology class, gave me the female "once-over" and decided to say, out of the blue, "God, you're so ugly I can't believe anyone would date you. Disgusting!" I couldn't even begin to think of a rebuttal...
Just for the record, I am not one of those people who would love to relive high school. Or junior high. Or elementary school. In fact, if I could relive every moment from the age of 22 and up? That's when my life started. That's when life became meaningful. That's when I started living life honestly.
Today, to have such a rich, full life filled with people I know who love me--both family and friends--whom I also love and care for in return...? Well, it does a body good. To get beyond the drama and the heart ache and the angst...
It's a goddamn good life, you know? And if I am a bit reticent at first when we meet in person? Just say hello, and I'm sure we'll get along just fine... Look at what's it's done for me and Richie? Eleven wonderful years... Hopefully just the beginning...