I’m at a bar. I half-know some people there. I know one person, but he knows some other girl in a biblical sense, so he’s a little distracted and I’m left to flounder around in shark territory.
I’m bad at unstructured social gatherings. Can’t we get someone to lead us in a game or a song-and-dance number? SOMEONE TAKE CONTROL! I blame too much summer camp as a child. (It gives you the misleading impression that all you need to do to make a friend is sing some old Simon and Garfunkel song while sitting together on short benches made of logs. [Maybe this is why karaoke is still my favorite thing to do socially, and I always bring logs to Partyworld KTV.])
There have been a lot of internet thought pieces, though, floating around the internet like the too-many trash bags floating around in our oceans, filling us with garbage about what a romantic thing it is to be an introvert. Oh, how special; you’re an introvert. Five things only introverts will understand. If these apply to you, you might be an introvert. Six drawings to show what it’s like in an introvert’s mind. 27 signs you’re actually an introvert. 30 things for introverts to read because they need SOMETHING entertaining because they’re too scared to get off the internet and interact with fellow humans.
For fuck’s sake, y’all just bad at talking to people. It’s okay; I am too. (For the record, I’m an even split between introvert and extrovert, last I checked.) But it’s not “cool.” Can we all remember that? It’s not sexy or mysterious or coy to be fucking antisocial and awkward. It’s also not life-ruining to be antisocial and awkward; I just think we need to look at things realistically. I for one am not going to glorify these inconvenient parts of my personality, because that might make them stronger. DON’T FEED THE ANTISOCIAL TROLL INSIDE OF YOU WITH INTERNET THINK PIECES. JUST TRY AND GET BETTER AT TALKING TO PEOPLE.
So, in an attempt to do just that, I start talking to people. There’s a guy I half-know who’s sitting nearby, and we start chatting a bit. He’s next to a girl he knows, whom I zero-know. She’s smiley, has a purple streak in her hair, and is quirky in that yes-I-took-my-shoes-off-in-this-bar-and-am-resting-them-on-a-chair kind of way. She clearly speaks fluent English and doesn’t have an accent (or seems to have the same accent as me, anyway; everyone has an accent), and we’re in a room with mostly foreigners. I assume that she too is a foreigner (which is not to say that Taiwanese people can’t hang out with foreigners and have flawless English and take their shoes off in bars and dye streaks of their hair purple – anyone can – I’ve just found that to be less likely). I ask her if she is also American – “also” because the guy we’re talking to is American. She says something non-committal, like, “Not really.” Fair enough; I understand being non-committal to America right now, whether you’re American or not. So I just ask it: “Where are you from?”
Side note: the image of a white girl asking an Asian girl, “Where are you from??” can be an ugly scene, because it’s frequently set in the context of western society, in places where white people pretend they’ve always been, and where more recent (or not even) transplants are seen as outsiders, even if they’re not. But, given the circumstances, (1. We’re in Taiwan, 2. She sounds American, 3. Most in the venue appear to be foreigners, 4. We don’t know each other and that’s one of the things you ask people you don’t know, right? What do you do? Where are you from? When can I leave and watch TV?)
Anyway, this girl (I’ll call her Garden State Natalie) looks at me pityingly, with a small smile on her face, and says, “Well, I usually just say I’m from the world,” and gives a soft little laugh, purple streak of hair swinging over her shoulder.
She thinks I’m confused about her planet of origin. What am I supposed to say to that?
“Ohh, I knew your accent was from one of the first three planets.”
“Really? I could’ve sworn you were a Martian!!”
“Ah! I’ve never been; what’s it like?”
“I’ve heard it’s lovely in the spring.”
“How long since you left?”
You’re not that ethereal, sweetheart, much as quotidian things like “places” and “shoes” don’t apply to you. It’s like asking, “What do you want to eat?” “Well, I usually just say I want to eat food.” (Ohhh, okay; my first thought was that you might have been one of those paper-eaters, but that clears it up, thanks. We’ll have two orders of the ‘food.’) “What do you like to read?” “Well, I usually just say I like to read books.” (Ohhh, okay; you never know if people prefer books or tea leaves, so I always like to ask.)
So that conversation… essentially ends there.
Oh, Garden State Natalie, you are ridiculous. Say hi to the world for me when you go home for one of those Earth holidays.