The World on ‘Ignore’
I have a cell phone that I keep for keeping in touch, and I never have it on me. It’s bulky and takes up valuable pocket space. This is the reason I usually never pick up your calls; I don’t have you on ignore or anything. I do pick up my phone at the end of the day to find 5 missed calls from all sorts of people. I have myspace, a twitter, and facebook accounts, none of which I use regularly – but apparently when I do, I drop gems. My boy Ian told me that I rarely ever pop up but when I do, it’s like Jesus preaching the Gospels himself. I don’t know if I’d dare compare myself to the good Lord. Maybe L. Ron Hubbard.
And speaking of Jesus, my boy Joaquin called me up today and it was probably just to say hi. I consider Joaquin one of the most down to earth homies on the planet, one of only a handful of non-phony Born-Again Christians that I know of and one of even fewer people that I’m proud to call my friend. But the last time he called, he mentioned the fact that he’s always the one calling, and I made a point of remembering to hollar back at him soon – and wouldn’t you know, he called me first. Again.
It was then I realized that I really, really suck at keeping in touch with people.
It’s not intentional. As a kid, I didn’t know how to relate to the others; over time it led me to develop a more detached personality. One notable exception to this was high school; during high school I found people who shared some of my interests, and because of that I was able to confidently express myself in front of them. Nowadays I rarely ever see even 1/5th of my friends in high school; I can easily go months on end without hearing a word from them or calling them up. I understand that most people pick up the phone and call their friends out of the blue to do things, or just to say hi. I don’t. It’s not that I’m purposefully trying to ignore them; it simply doesn’t occur to me to do it. I tend to believe that people have their own lives to attend to and that the friend roster is “full” for most people. I don’t speak unless spoken to; in fact, everybody I’ve ever met was through someone else. I seem to be able to go for days without coming in contact with a single human being. It’ll come in handy when I end up living alone, without a wife and kids. Perhaps I’m just prepping myself for that day.
Human interaction has always been a mystery to me. I remember being younger and seeing couples out at a park. One moment they would be held in embrace, smiling, kissing and looking into each other’s eyes; sometimes, without taking their eyes off each other, the girl would then whisper something to the guy, and then he’d say something, and then both would just laugh like bubbly idiots as they looked into each others eyes and kissed. I’ve always wanted to know: what were they saying? Personally I’m still baffled at what guys are supposed to say to a woman when they approach her, and I’ m not counting corny pick-up lines either. I also doubt very much that the answer is as simple as “hi”; what’s the follow up to such a weak opener? What do people gathered in groups at social functions talk about, and how do they manage to avoid the awkward silences that seem to plague my attempts at “mingling”?
When people talk to me, I have a feeling they see me as simple and uncomplicated. I avoid emotional minutiae like most people avoid technical minutiae. I don’t particularly care about the mundane details of every day life; maybe that’s why I naturally gravitate towards fantasy. Nerds, I find, are fascinated with technical trivialities, but even when the topic is something I’m interested in I could not stand more than 5 minutes of conversation with some of them. I can’t recite 20 years worth of Simpsons quotes; I don’t care about the extended Star Wars universe. I’m somewhat peeved that George Lucas digitally inserted Hayden Christensen’s head onto the astral form of the deceased Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi, but I’m far more interested in what it means in terms of the limits of authorship and whether the public even has a say in the matter. Just like Star Wars technicalities leave me bored, so does the everyday banality of small talk and gossip. What somebody said to somebody else and how they feel about it doesn’t really catch my attention. Just reading that last sentence to myself made my eyes roll. Naturally, I’m out of place at any social gathering where people stand around with wine glasses and talk; what are they talking about?
What does it mean to keep in touch? Why would anyone call anybody else out of the blue; at any moment there are dozens of people you could be talking to right now – who would you choose, and why? The question only gets harder the more time passes by until so much time passes that one day you decide that just sending them a Facebook comment would be really, REALLY awkward.
Perhaps those you do choose to keep in contact with are those worthy enough to be called friends. Perhaps I don’t really have any friends. Or maybe I’m not appreciating my friends as much as I should. I guess the only way to know for sure is to make a better effort at it. I’ll try harder. But if I don’t take your call, chances are it’s nothing personal. Keep trying until I get the message. Better yet, just leave a message telling me I’m being a douche again. That should do it.