I am touched by the outpouring of support the Internet has shown me w/r/t my weirdness. I hadn’t meant to project such an air of pity and desperation, but if I don’t mean to do that maybe I should choose my words more carefully. (Example: public declaration on The Rumpus “Oh God I am so alone.”) Many men who are already in relationships with women who are not me wrote to tell me that I am special and how incredibly likely it is that I will have a fulfilling relationship soon. I am comforted by this, but not really.
Let me tell you this stupid story.
Yesterday I was driving around Missoula in 5 o clock traffic like a retarded person, looking for a restaurant to eat my first meal of the day in because I’ve never heard of a grocery store. I made a terrible decision and went into a loud, crowded, too expensive restaurant, but there was no turning back, my car was already parked.
I pulled out a big ass yellow legal pad and started making lists. When a writer doesn’t want to write, they list. That’s my experience, anyway. This very normal group of four sat down at the table next to me. A pretty blonde – like, Walmart pretty but pretty enough – kept turning around and looking at me, which made me mad. It makes me mad when people look at me at times when I want to be ignored. I felt that she was trying to read my list, a list I was making for my class next semester and not at all personal but I don’t like people looking at my lists.
She just kept turning around and looking at me and it was getting inside my head; I couldn’t concentrate and it made me more mad.
“What are you writing?” She asked. “Are you getting ready for school?”
“Yes,” I said.
I went back to pretending to write, because I couldn’t actually write because this woman was in my brain. Attention is a real force that can be wielded on others like an axe.
A few minutes later she turned to me again and asked a series of questions about the list. I told her I was teaching fiction next semester and I was preparing. She was a very bubbly person and I was unable to mirror her enthusiasm like I sometimes try to do. I should mention that I was at the time profoundly sad and not in the mood for this.
“Why do you want to know these things?” I asked her. “Are you in school?”
“I’m just interested in everything,” she said.
How can you be interested in everything? That’s a stupid thing to say. I concluded that this girl must be in love with me, because why else force such a benign conversation with a stranger when you have three perfectly good people to talk to. I thought about what a burden it was that everywhere I went, men, women, and children were falling to their knees in desperate inexplicable love with me.
I said something like, “Well, anyway. I’m leaving.”
“I hope I didn’t break your concentration,” she said.
She did do that. It’s her fault. But I also don’t live at that restaurant and may very well have left shortly after anyway.
This story is pretty anti-climactic. Really, that’s it. Nothing else happened. I think now maybe the answer is a simple one: some people are just friendly. Maybe she felt bad for me for eating dinner in a restaurant by myself. That is an unbearable thought.
I should wear a sign that says, “I know I’m weird but I’m cool with it and I have a lot of friends, they’re just not around right now. Also I have a website. It’s practically like having a television show. If anything, I feel sorry for you.”
I’ll workshop the sign and get back to you.