The Intermittent Kevin

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Wacky social awkwardness

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It’s a nice quiet evening at home and I’ve just had a rather bizarre exchange with my neighbor. You know that scene in Office Space when the boss tells Jennifer Aniston she has to wear more flair? It reminded me of that.

THE SCENE: My door’s open and I’m standing there folding a sheet. I’ve got music playing in my bedroom. A short Indian guy in tennis shoes comes walking up to my doormat and wipes his feet like three times on it. I will call him Joe.

Me: “Hi.”
Joe. “Hi.” (wipe wipe wipe) “I’m your neighbor from next door on the other side?”
I cut to the chase.
Me: “Oh sorry, is the music too loud?”
Joe: “Yeah, uh, it’s just at night, it’s a little–?”
Me: “Oh no problem, I’ll turn it down, what time you go to bed?”
Joe: “Like, ten?”
Me: “Sure, I’ll turn it down, sorry.”
Joe: “Yeah, it’s just, you gotta realize that we back up right against each other.”
Pause.
Me: “Sure, just–let me know. Like you did.”
Joe: “Okay, thanks–thanks.” He leaves.

Now, an alternate version of how that could have gone:

Me: “Hi.”
Joe: “Hey, I’m your neighbor from next door?”
Me: “Oh sorry, is the music too loud?”
Joe: “Yeah, could you turn it down?”
Me: “No problem, sorry.”
Joe: “See you.”

See that? Much more straight-forward, no feet-wiping, nothing. I was bugging him, he let me know, end of conversation. Why was it this awkward thing? The fact that he broke out with this extra little lecture – “you gotta realize” – tells me he was probably bugged for awhile. How many frigging nights was he annoyed by this before he finally got the cojones to come over and say “yo”?

I’m not just annoyed with Joe; I’m annoyed with myself. Cause I do this all the damn time! One of my favorite things about New York City is how direct everyone is. No b.s., no social awkwardness, they just say what’s on their mind and it’s done. I despise it about myself but it’s all a part of my big passive-aggressive nature. Is everyone else like this?

Just to prove my point, I could have asked Joe for his actual name before he left. BOOM, new friend made. But I just let him and his tennis shoes walk back next door, ensuring the awkward relationship will continue. He’s my damn NEIGHBOR! What the hell is that all about?

Grr. Not many people realize how many anti-social tendencies I have in me. I can be a chatty dude at a party, or on stage, but get me one-on-one with some random person and I clamp up.

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Written by Kevin Miller

March 8, 2004 at 8:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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