Thursday, August 24, 2006

Silent Type

**And so the saga continues. Once more I sit before this sterile scribe to peck away some meaningless verbosity I am loath to utter that will lie digitally dormant until such time as I upload it to the net, releasing it into the data stream like some vat-spawned endangered species I’m trying to resuscitate.
**I’m not really sure why, but I remember when my urge to communicate was turned inward. I had always been a gregarious child with a knack for getting people to smile. All through elementary school up to my pre-teens I was usually the narrator in school plays, or the lead voice in chorus. I relished the connection with other people when performing; that look in the eye which said they were totally moved by whatever medium I was pouring my heart into. Well that is until a character called puberty entered the picture accompanied by his brutish mate the bully.
**I discovered one of the biggest problems outgoing people can face: that eventually they will encounter other people that don’t like them, and sometimes these people can be violent. One of my worst tormentors was named Rick (which of course rhymes with what he really was) and through his painful intervention my inevitable withdrawal from the world began. He was maybe 4 or 5 years older than me, twice as big, and a whole lot meaner. I still to this day don’t know what I did to deserve his wrath other than exist but he definitely had it out for me. His favorite move was to park his much heftier frame on top of mine, pin my arms to the ground with his knees, and then torture me until I cried or some bleary-eyed teacher snapped out of their apathetic trance long enough to stop it. Back then you were expected to stand up for yourself but all I had were words, and all they did was get me beat harder! I refused to continually lay there and humble myself to this mindless savage, so I began to berate him with all the venom a desperate young lad possessing a robust vocabulary could muster. I questioned his lineage, sexuality, and any other trait imaginable until he would storm away in a rage because I refused to cry anymore.
**Well as you can imagine, I began to feel the need to be unobtrusive. If people don’t notice you, then they can’t pick on you. Suddenly being alone wasn’t so bad, I could do whatever I wanted, and never had to worry about unnecessary complications. I began to read in earnest, escaping my world of burgeoning uncertainty through the wondrous words of others. This is also when I first began to write for even though we may shun the physical contact rudimentary to meaningful communication, we still feel the need to voice that which roils from within, to share our own private impressions.
**Of course I was still relatively affable having been raised to respect everyone I encounter, but it was just the proverbial mask, a polite façade employed to keep the potential pain away.
**One evening our little community was gathered at the Town Hall for some function; I believe it was something with Boy Scouts (which I was a thrifty member of) and everybody that was anybody was present, including two of the most beautiful girls in my class. Well when it was suggested that an emcee should be appointed who do you think everyone turned to? Yup, you got it, good old me. Here in this room were teachers, local government officials, successful business owners; all people that were used to dealing with the public but no, they pick the skinny, self-conscious, borderline introvert me.
**I can’t begin to describe to you that feeling of wanting to shrivel up into a little ball that I felt at that moment. My face was flushed and my tongue actually got thicker, it was the strangest sensation, I suddenly couldn’t talk. And the more people egged me on the worse I felt; I kept casting quick glances at the two girls from my class and they were laughing, talk about devastating. I remember looking at my parents with a pleading expression that said don’t make me do this, but they like everyone else expected it of me because I had a talent for it and had always willingly done it in the past. This was without a doubt the turning point in my relationship with the rest of society. I learned that if you’re popular you don’t have as many options because you are bound by other people’s expectations and this cemented my decision to recede.
**Now thirty years later I still maintain a stout barrier between myself and the world, but I’ve come to understand the need for some kind of bridge to keep me in touch with the rest of humanity. I can count the number of friends I have on one hand, though I suppose that could be said of my enemies as well – I am a non-factor, a neutral bystander. I still write and have even started performing in a band again, and I find it endlessly amusing when someone says, “I can’t believe the voice that comes out of such an otherwise quiet person!” I guess three decades of relative silence got me primed.
**My most heartfelt exchanges though are those involving words. When you practice a lifestyle of humble reticence, there must be a release valve to expunge all the thoughts and expostulations an active mind is bound to explore. Sometimes I feel I have something unique to offer, but reveling in the intricacies of sound, rhythm, and meaning doesn’t always translate into communication. Regardless of how cleverly certain words can be arranged together, the ultimate question is – are they saying anything? But still I sit here day after day tapping away at my dusty keyboard, comforted by the sound, the only conveyance these pointless runes will probably ever make.


Anonymous said...

Hi Bob,
I love the double meaning in your title and the fact that it didn't reveal itself until the end. Great writing! I can't wait for chapter three! You're really tugging at heartstrings here. It's fascinating and sometimes sad to learn what molds us into who we are today. Thank you for sharing this.

Take Care,

ozymandiaz said...

Hey Bob. Quite an interesting expose upon thyself you've presented here. I was always a natural introvert but got picked on because of my size. You know that playground mentality of attacking the largest kid to gain respect. I never wanted anything to do with it and never fought back unless a diminutive cohort was being harassed. I never had problems with public speaking, though, it was always much easier than one on one.

Robert Lloyd said...

Wow Bob quite the story there. It is amazing though how loud one can be now adays on the keyboard. I actually the keys tapping as I read the end and smiled to myself. You truely are a craftsman with words. One day I think you should post a video of your songs you really have my curiosity after writing this one. Thank you for sharing something so personal.

Mary said...

A very open and honest piece of writing. Glad you are in a band, are performing again. I might say in regard to the number of friends you say you have, I think many people (if they are thinking of REAL friends) might be 'in the same boat.' A friend is different than an acquaintance.

Carrie Van Horn said...

Bravely and well written. Thank you for sharing your life with us Bob.