Monthly Archives: September 2012

Mr. Weirdo: (maybe not so weird after all…?)

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My boyfriend is a weirdo. He’s very proud of this trait as he perceives it in himself, and will proclaim it to others at every opportunity. He also backs up this claim through his actions. This morning, while brushing his teeth, he decided that his toothbrush made him look like a mosquito. I was attacked in my bed by a man in his mid-twenties, humming irritatingly while he mimed draining my blood with his toothbrush, before he rushed away fluttering his hands like wings, still humming. (It is apparently quite difficult to hum through a mouthful of toothbrush and toothpaste)

Scenarios like this one happen frequently around Mr. Weirdo, although more often he limits himself to simply creating the strangest word he can imagine to describe an already existing situation. But although Mr. Weirdo’s behaviour is undeniably quirky, he never acts in a way which might be considered genuinely threatening. In fact it is the opposite: Mr. Weirdo has fostered his own quirky behaviour in order to facilitate and smooth the process of social interaction. In other words, Mr. Weirdo acts weird because he wants other people to like him, and to respond positively to his presence.

As they grow, people develop different ways to try to ease the difficulties presented by social interaction. I myself resorted to shyness from a young age – a trait which actually isn’t very effective if its intent is to ease social difficulties. While a shy person may believe that refraining from getting in people’s faces will minimise clashes of personality and cause people to respond favourably to them (or some such), what is actually more likely to happen is that either their withdrawal is interpreted as anti-social tendencies, or that they end up feeling unnoticed – a wall-flower watching the main action from the sidelines.

Playing the fool, like Mr. Weirdo, however, is one of the more effective strategies one can use to lubricate social situations. Not to say that everyone will like the fool all the time (no matter how careful you are, you cannot please everyone), but as a general rule people like to be entertained, and therefore people like those who are able to entertain. While I am learning how to let loose and be a little crazy, shyness is still the response I fall back on when I feel out of my depth – which goes some way to explaining why I have a cozy little group of 45 facebook friends, and the outgoing and quirky Mr. Weirdo has a massive facebook party of approximately ten times that amount.

So, while on the surface Mr. Weirdo may appear to be weird, in all actuality, he’s not so weird at all. And his motivation is common to virtually every person who has ever been born into an interactive society (i.e. EVERYONE).

And here’s a little tip for all those struggling, socially awkward people out there: While of course even the outgoing people have insecurities, as a general rule they are less controlled by their own perceptions of their shortcomings. As I discovered myself, trying to grow out of my shyness – faking self-confidence, you cannot help but to feel a little bit more confident. If you fake a smile for long enough, eventually you will feel happy. If you stand up straight and tall, rather than curling up and making yourself as small as possible, for some reason you will start to feel less like you need to hide in plain sight. So, if you want to be confident, try to act like the confident people. Change your posture, and your body language – and surprisingly quickly, your mind will follow. Just like any habit, all it takes is practice.

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The sad truth about bitches

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Although it’s undeniable, even in this day and age, that the way society perceives them because of their gender does affect each individual’s psychological development, I’ve come to realise that the situation has, in fact, rather rapidly improved in the last few decades.

Due in part to this improvement, and probably also in part to my own remaining naivete and lack of exposure to many undesirable situations, I never really understood the intricacies of what is really meant when a woman is called a bitch.

Although I have of course known people who are cruel, or nasty, or stupid, it wasn’t until a few days ago when I realised I had in fact met my first real bitch. In order to give a little background to the situation, you’ll have to excuse the following rant. I will try to keep it brief.

Just after noon, during the busy part of a particularly busy day at the restaurant in which I work, a woman  entered, accompanied by a date. She was possibly in her late 30s, slightly too skinny, bad skin, wearing a simple yet revealing dress and an over-the-top cute attitude. Her partner was at least 10 years older, well-groomed, and obviously well-to-do.

After refusing to be shown to a table, this woman convinced her date to sit at the bar, at which I was stationed. My job there is to provide drinks for the entire restaurant, and since all the tables were full, I was understandably quite busy. But looking after customers was part of my job too, so although I already sensed something off about this woman, I was quite happy to accomodate her at the bar.

To cut a long story short, she was the most demanding customer I have ever seen. Although I was busy, she seemed to feel that since she was sitting at the bar, all of my attention should be on her. Her mother, she informed me, was friends with the owner. She wanted a bottle of champagne, and she wanted her glass filled as soon as she wanted it filled, and seemed to feel put out if I didn’t immediately and telepathically attend, whether it was already half-full or not. As time progressed, she never lost her smile or her cute attitude, and as she became increasingly drunk, her flirting became increasingly outrageous – to the point where she would allow her dress to fall of her shoulders, and then lean in closer to her companion, as if to draw his attention to the fact that she was not wearing a bra.

However, although she maintained a facade of cuteness, and made sure her date thought she was thinking only of him, I could feel her irritation with me increasing. I haven’t had much experience serving customers during my short time at the restaurant, and every small mistake I made was taken as a personal affront to her, although in front of her date she smiled and encouraged me to practice. With a cute smile, she told me she would come back to the restaurant in her spare time so I could practice more.

When I came back from my break, she was gone, but not before she had told the other staff that I had done a poor job and that they had better train me properly.

While I fended off a panic attack, I reflected on this woman’s behaviour, and for the first time realised that I never truly understood what a bitch was. Certainly, I had heard women called bitches for being nasty, and I had also heard people make jokes like “I’m your pimp, and you’re my bitch”, but I never realised the full extent to which a bitch is an owned woman.

The woman who caused me so much trouble probably didn’t even consciously realise that she was owned. In fact, she had probably put herself in that situation, believing that to be connected to powerful men was to be powerful and important herself. She felt like she had volition. But she had deliberately altered herself to better please men, and she helped herself not directly, but by helping men.

Denying one’s true nature in order to recommend oneself to others, especially if it often becomes apparent that these others are not genuinely appreciative of your existence, is guaranteed to generate a fair amount of anger. The relationships she is putting the most effort into do not result in the recognition and positive attention every human being needs, but result only in superficial acknowledgement of her existence. And so, the bitch will show what she thinks is desirable to people who she thinks can grant her power, and release all the pent up anger and frustration (and expectation to fullfil needs which have become more demanding due to the lack of response from the desired party) on anyone who she feels is lower than her, or cannot offer her what she believes she wants.

Honestly, bitches are infuriating, it’s true. But if you think about it deeply, it’s somehow worse to realise that misguided ideas about individual roles (probably assigned by gender), and social influence from a young age, have caused her to inflict this psychological trap on herself. At this point, nobody can help her but herself. But she doesn’t even realise that she needs to help herself, and nor would she know how to go about it if by some miracle she did realise.