Saturday, July 21, 2007

I'm a loner, a rebel, Dotty.

I'm one of those people who doesn't mind being alone. I admit, there was a few years when I was a teenager, when I really wanted to not be alone and was saddened to find myself constantly alone and without a true group of friends to hang out with all the time, although I had a wide variety of really great friends from different cliques -- just pointing that out so I don't seem that pathetic.

Then something happened. Maybe it was my car. Yes, I'm sure that's what it was. My car afforded me the opportunity to run away during lunch time instead of trying to find someone to hang out with and feeling looser-ish as well as a means of transportation for me and my random friends from work and school. Suddenly I had freedom, independence and didn't have to make it so obvious that I was a little off and didn't quite fit in with everyone.

Then I met my husband at age 19, and, well, I just didn't care so much anymore about hanging out with people or that I was alone when I was. He was my best friend (still is) and was always willing to do things with me, even if he wasn't that interested (still is). And when I didn't want to be with him, I just wasn't. And that was fine. I'll admit, when he didn't want to be with me, that wasn't just fine and we'd usually get into a big fight about it, and now I realize how stupid that is and that's probably why I shouldn't of had a boyfriend from the ages of 19 - 24, but hey, it all worked out and everything is fine and well, I just grew up a lot over the years.

Anyway. My point is this. I don't mind walking around alone, I don't mind eating alone, I don't mind sitting alone, I don't mind not talking to people in a social situation, and I especially don't mind not talking to people in a classroom setting. Ah, yes, you see where I'm headed.

For some reason my Flash class had only 4 people in it, including me. Usually when it's a larger class, I can go hide in the back or the corner and only make myself apparent when I want to be the annoying student who answers questions or asks questions and otherwise makes herself look like a know-it-all. This time, since there were only 4 of us, and our teacher, being fairly young, knew that students tend to sit in the last row in the room, and had set up the PCs in the last row for his four students. Which meant three of the four of us had to sit next to each other. The other person was a weird Mac person and had to go sit in solitude with the Mac computers.

So there we were: Me at the end, some chick next to me, who, by the way, said "hi" to me immediately, which should have been my first indication that she was, gasp, friendly, and then some guy who I thought was a lot older than he really was, and in fact, was only about 19 or 20 and made me feel really old and wise and owlish.

At the lunch break, I got up and went to the bathroom and then headed over to the elevators to leave in search of a cheap sandwich, a quiet place to read my book {that you can see over at the left side over there}, and listen to my iPod. The chick and the guy were already waiting at the elevators.

Awkward, I thought.

This was when the girl turned to the guy and then to me and said, "So, do you all want to go grab something to eat? Something quick?"

Wwwhhhaaat? I thought. Hmmm. Do I want to waste my one hour of freedom with two other people I don't know? They were young. She seemed friendly, although I wasn't sure about the guy. And it wouldn't hurt me, I guess. I listened to my inner husband telling me to be nice and just go out with them.

"Um, okay," I said. Man. I thought.

We headed outside, where she began to grill me about my job and where I work and live and this and that, and I felt like I was on a first date. But, she was doing all this while she was trying to get her mom on the phone, who also works for my company, but in the big scheme of things, that means nothing cause my company employees a bazillion people all over the country, a huge chunk of those being in SF, so I thought, hmm... you obviously don't want to be alone, yet you obviously have your own thing going on. So you're now holding myself and the young guy hostage in your world of loneliness.

After a few minutes of "where do you want to go?" and "what do you feel like eating?," we headed to an Italian cafe.

She ordered a big container of fruit and a plate of lasagna - to go even though we were eating there. I ordered a half sandwich and chips, and the guy did the same.

We sat down to awkward silence. I sucked it up and started asking questions to the guy and then the girl. Even though I'm generally not interested in talking to strangers and finding out about their lives, I am good at being the one to keep the conversation going. It's tiring, but I can do it. I usually don't care that much about their answers, and I only do it so we're not all sitting in awkward silence, staring out windows or commenting on the weather. If it wasn't for me, who knows how that lunch would have gone down.

During our chit-chat, I learned the guy was super young and still in college, the girl lives in SF but grew up in Fremont, and I'm old. I'm old, married and have a kid. And I'm old. Did I mention I'm old? I know, I know, I'm really not that old, but when you're hanging out with someone who can't even go to a bar on his Friday night in SF, it makes you feel weirdly old.

After a bit, we all decided to head back to class where we promptly began to ignore each other.

I was smuggly proud of myself that I could tell those that really know me that I went out to lunch with strangers and survived, and so I wrote emails to my husband and my co-worker, both who tend to be more friendly than I am.

Wait. I must backtrack. So the girl ordered the fruit and the lasagna thing -- right? Well, there I was, ordering a half sandwich, more because I was thinking if I ordered and then ate a full sandwich, which is what I really wanted, I would look like a pig. Social insecurities. She proceeded to only eat a few bites of the fruit and a few bites of the lasagna, declared it good, and then packed it away. I thought this was odd because there wasn't a refrigerator in our classroom, but I've known enough people who don't care about refrigeration like I do to just let it go.

Okay. So just remember that.

After class, I got up and used the bathroom before leaving. As I headed to the elevator, I heard the girl. Oh no, I thought. Not again. Well, at least she lives in SF and the young guy is driving, so there is no way to get stuck with them after work.

I walked up and smiled hello to them both.

"So you take BART, right? I'll walk with you!" she declared.

Huh? I thought. Why? Why are you going to walk with me? If there is one thing that I really do hate, it's walking with random people who I can't tell to hurry up because it wouldn't be nice, even though my mind is screaming, "MOVE IT!!! I WANT TO CATCH MY TRAIN SO I CAN GET HOME! THIS ISN'T SOCIAL HOUR FOR MORE CHIT CHAT! THIS IS MY TIME AND YOU'RE LUCKY I'M ALLOWING YOU TO WALK WITH ME!!! AND, BECAUSE I REALLY DON'T WANT TO BE WITH YOU, I WON'T TRY TO COME UP WITH A MILLION QUESTIONS TO ASK SO THE AWKWARDNESS IS RELIEVED. WE'LL JUST WALK IN SILENCE AND YOU'LL LEARN YOUR LESSON. OH YES, YOU WILL."

"Okay," I said. Darn.

"So, how do you get to the BART station?" she asked me while whipping out some street map she had, where she plotted out how she was going to walk from where she lived in the Embarcadero to where the classroom was. I saw she was pointing to the Embarcadero BART station stop, which I was not going to, so I saw my way out.

"Oh, I'm not going there. I go down Montgomery." Phew! Saved!

"Oh....well, I guess I could walk that way with you and then go down Market...," she said.

What? Whhhhyyyyy? I don't need you to walk with me, and I'm sorry if you need to walk with someone, but it really shouldn't be me because I'll leave you in the dust if it means catching my train. I had to think of something quick.

"Are you sure? That's a bit out of your way. You might want to just go the way you planned," I gently prodded. The power of suggestion!

"Hmm...yeah, you're right. Okay, I guess I will," and off she went.

That left me stuck walking with that guy for a block, until he found his garage. After he turned up the street the garage was on, I was out of there.

Now, why'd I mention what the girl ordered and how much she ate, you might be thinking. Or, more likely, you probably completely forgot about it.

Well, the next day, I high tailed it out of there before she nabbed me again, walked to the Paul Frank store on Kearny, bought Mateo a cute Tyrone the bat t-shirt he'll wear when he's close to two, bought a bagel sandwich, and then headed back to school.

The girl came back to the room about when I did, so she started grilling me about where I went. I told her, then had to show her the shirt I bought cause that's what girls do, and then started emailing anyone and everyone so I looked occupied and could listen to my iPod without seeming unfriendly and rude.

That's when I noticed she pulled out the same fruit container and container of lasagna she bought yesterday. I find this weird for two reasons: one being that there still was no refrigeration in our classroom setting and two, I don't get why people like her, who weigh maybe 100 lbs wet, even bother eating in a social setting because they make people like me, who snarf down their bagel sandwich and chips like she hasn't eaten in days, look like a gigantic pig. If a container of fruit and a container of lasagna will satisfy two meals in two days, then I'm sorry, I really can't be friends with you. The only sticks I like are the ones in Pick up Sticks and on trees.

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