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Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I'd just like to take a moment to talk about terror.

Most of us confront terror only once or twice in our lives, and those confrontations are some of the more memorable experiences, each second dragged out like math class on a Friday. We overcome our fear and move on with our lives, stronger for our confrontation with danger.

This is not even close to my predicament.

Imagine, reader, if you, for some reason, decided to force yourself into a situation that caused you paralyzing, crippling, eye-boggling fear. Now imagine you knew from experience that you would not get over this fear, then please, and I know this is a stretch, picture forcing yourself to do this repeatedly--once or twice a month.

Who would do such a horrible thing? Who would willingly face danger without the incentive of increased emotional fortitude, knowing for certain that the results would be invariably terrible? What a disgusting individual. What an obsessive, truly tortured soul.

...Oh, hi. That's me.

Before I go into the gory details of my psyche, I believe no further judgment can be passed without full knowledge of the situation.

Remember Boy?

Yes, the chocolate milk fiend.

Here is the source of my torment:

He has friends.

I know. Honestly, I'm shocked too. I'll give you a little time to absorb this.

And the thing is, they're not normal friends either. They're this bunch of jovial-looking guys who are tall, nice, funny, and absolutely terrifying. In order to protect their identities, and to protect myself from remembering that I don't know anybody's name, I've given them nicknames that they will hopefully never see. They are:

Higgins biggins, Beardy Workface, J-cheese, The-one-with-the-nice-girlfriend, Flippy-hair,  Glasses+Enthusiasm, I-don't-know-who-you-are, I-don't-know-who-you-are, I-don't-know-who-you-are, I-don't-know-who-you-are, and I-don't-know-who-you-are.

As you can tell, they should probably be on a pirate ship. Whenever Boy describes his experiences with them, I always picture them singing yo-ho-ho on a tilting floor, their voices all scratchy from screaming at neighboring ships.

...It's probably the hair. They have lots of hair.

Well, except for Beardy Workface, which is probably why he scares me just a little bit less than everyone else. But don't get me wrong. He's still horrifying. And he compensates by having a fake beard in his profile picture on Facebook, which is the reason for his nickname anyway. He has a nice girlfriend too, but I can't have two The-one-with-the-nice-girlfriend-s. That makes no sense.

Anyway, Boy knows them all through his SUPER-SECRET-CULT-IN-ALL-CAPS-CAUSE-IT'S-IMPORTANT. Because they're all a part of it, they're very chummy and familiar and palsy-walsy and close and all those good little adjectives that make people feel warm and fuzzy. Of course, this means there are SUPER-SECRET-CULT-SECRETS-IN-ALL-CAPS-CAUSE-THEY'RE-IMPORTANT, which are apparently either above or below me or are in a parallel universe in which I do not exist. I tend to gravitate toward the latter.

Every time I go visit boy I get all excited and decide 'Yeah! I'm going to have mutual friends with Boy! I'm going to be social! I'm cool! People like me! I've got my awesome socks on today! Everything's possible!' So we stroll right on out into the real world, arm-in-arm with feet kicking up like we're in a dandy old musical. Birds begin singing when they see us coming. I am a social butterfly and nothing can bring me down. We get to the SUPER-NOT-SECRET-CULT-HIDEOUT-IN-ALL-CAPS-CAUSE-IT'S-IMPORTANT and rap on the door. I open it right on up, giddy smile on my face.

...Then I shrivel and die.


Oh, yeah.

I'm shy.

Once I finally realize this, I lose my ability to speak. The Hair, as I collectively call them, becomes all friendly, welcoming me into their SUPER-NOT-SECRET-CULT-HIDEOUT with smiles and handshakes. My mouth dries out to reinforce my shyness, making my teeth stick to my lips every time I try to smile. I'm pretty sure they think the resulting monkey-grin is actually how my face is supposed to look. I am intimidated. My voice cracks. I'm not a boy. That's not supposed to happen. Or am I a boy? Am I still in puberty? What day is it? I think I just accidentally winked. Am I a sleaze? Do they think I'm a sleaze? Why can't I swallow? I don't even remember.

My entire sense of self goes swirling out of me until I am a shell, stupid and blinking at the people with large masses of hair around me.

I convince myself that I don't understand what anyone is saying. If someone addresses me, I have to ask 'What?' about four times before I can even come up with a response. Either the pirates think I'm deaf or idiotic. Personally, I would suggest they each get a parrot for their shoulders so they could say everything at only half as many times. I wonder if this will ever end.

Finally, an exit. I am invited to play MarioKart, and I jump at the opportunity to be completely silent. I could just drive alongside these people, refusing to converse for concentration's sake. Maybe they'll think I'm one of the computers.

Unfortunately, I am good at MarioKart.

After winning the second time in a row, I realize that winning means that people notice me. I get a congratulations from Flippy Hair, who excuses his poor playing with the fact that he is a pirate. Pirates are bad at MarioKart? Okay then. Time to fit in. I play poorly for the next two rounds.



Boy has to go to the bathroom.

MarioKart is done.

I am alone.

Half-crazed, not conscious of my own thoughts, I flee toward the only thing that I know--Boy. The only pirate that will never intimidate me, he is my safezone.  I find him as he is just opening the door to the bathroom, and subtly slide in behind him.

'Annabel, what are you doing?'

'I just. They're people.'


'And everyone left.'


'Just. Let me stay.'

Like a good boyfriend, Boy let me stay, making fun of me the whole time in whispers. I looked away while he peed, then we waited for everyone near the bathroom door to leave. I figured people would just think he was slow.

...Turns out he told everyone about it the next week. Thanks, Boy. What a champ.

Hiding in the bathroom with Boy made me feel, for the first time, safe, and suddenly I remembered I existed. My tummy, which also existed, started growling and Boy soon understood that it was time to go get food. At least we had a legitimate excuse. As we said goodbyes, I surveyed the Hair's faces to see what they thought of me, and was surprised to find a divided opinion among the faces that were actually discernible through beards and floppy cuts. Either the pirates thought I was very strange, which was an accurate assessment, or I was completely boring, which made sense since I couldn't talk. Still, though, none of them knew me. My mission to get mutual friends had totally, completely, utterly and catastrophically failed, but all I felt was relief.

The next time I visited the SUPER-NOT-SECRET-HIDEOUT, it was Boy's birthday. After spending the entire day with me, the pirates decided they deserved some of Boy's birthday time, which was absolutely true. I waited a couple of hours for them to have their SUPER-SECRET-MEETING and pretended to write essays in Starbucks. When Boy finally emerged, I was relieved. He hugged me and told me wonderful news: we were going over to the SUPER-NOT-SECRET-HIDEOUT! I could make friends! I could be a social butterfly! But as soon as we caught up to them, a familiar feeling took hold.

Once again, I remembered that I was shy.

This time I made an effort to speak when Boy asked me if I wanted a bite of the cupcake the SUPER-SECRET-CULT made for him. They actually looked pretty good, and Boy's even had a little candle sticking up. But because I am mean to Boy, I acted all disgusted and said 'EW NO!'

Beardy Workface looked hurt.

Sometimes, when I feel uncomfortable, I just insult everyone around me. Unfortunately, this makes everybody more uncomfortable, myself included, and I actually prefer to pretend none of this ever happened.

Maybe if I block it from my memory everything will be fine. I'm sociable, right? I'm cool. People like me. This'll be great. Boy and I can have mutual friends! I'll put on my awesome socks!

Oh. Oh wait.

So it begins.

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