Mz. Mannerz: Hi Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Time for another exciting edition of Mz. Mannerz!

Hi.

Who would have thought such a little word could inspire so much rage?  I mean, I would have thought that, but I fly into rage over someone misquoting lines from Caddyshack, so I’m a bad gauge of what’s rage-worthy.  You should probably talk to someone who doesn’t have a vein semi-permanently bulging out of their forehead if you want calm and well-thought out commentary on the matter.

I mean, goddamn it.  If you’re not gonna get the quote from the movie right, then don’t quote it.  You can’t just replace Bill Murray’s line “Big hitter, the Lama” with “The Lama is a big hitter” because you will have ruined the line.  RUINED IT.

As I will pontificate to anyone who will listen while I eat pizza:  Comedy is as much science as it is art.  Maybe more, even.  The order of the words counts.  Every word, change of tone, inflection, eyelid movement – it all counts.  It is 100,000 times more complex than drama, and I will stand by that until the day I die eating pizza.

Drama is so freaking easy, it annoys me to no end how much credit people get for it.  Oh no, they killed that character everybody liked and it was sad!  A lone tear falls from a sad British person’s face.  Cue violin music as people make stern facial expressions under overcast skies.  Black umbrellas.  HERE’S YOUR OSCAR.

Sad shit happens in real life all day, every day.  Making a movie about sad shit where the main take is, “That was sad!” is not the work of genius.  That’s just long-winded reality with a soundtrack.

You try killing off a character everybody likes and making it funny.  Craft a touching death scene to kazoo music.  Shoot Old Yeller with one of those guns that just unfurls a banner that says “Bang!” yet still preserve the integrity of the scene.  That shit is hard.  That shit takes finesse.  Watch “The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of The Desert” for further reference.

Where was I?

The person who texts you with the word “Hi” followed by nothing is the most obnoxious person in the universe (besides guitar players, which I try to cover in every other blog post.  Try to keep up).

What this person has done with their lone “Hi” is start a conversation with you by immediately forcing you into an awkward silence, thereby drafting you to be the person who remedies it.  They’re not being folksy with their “Hi”, they have given you a J-O-B.

My whole life, I’ve had this desperate need to fill the awkward silences in conversations to make sure everyone is having a good time.  You might better recognize it as, “Good lord, you never shut up, do you?” but your better class of swap-shop psychologists would call it “codependency”.  I always try to have at least three universally interesting topics on-hand just in case an awkward silence happens.  I literally cannot take it when people seem uncomfortable.  It makes my palms sweat and my heart race.

The person who just sends “Hi” is the same person who when you respond with:

“Hey, what’s up?”

Will respond with “Nothing!” and then continue to sit there in silence.

GIVE ME SOMETHING TO WORK WITH.  Why did you text me if you have jack jimmy squat to say???

Did you just want me to entertain you?  Because if that’s the case, feel free to say that right up front.  “I’m bored and I can’t find any way to amuse myself, can you tell me a knock knock joke?”

Hey, schedule-permitting, I would be fine to tell you a knock knock joke.

Schedule-permitting.

Also, my schedule does not permit that ever, so if you want to be a wisenheimer and text me and say, “I’m bored and I can’t find any way to amuse myself, can you tell me a knock knock joke?” your text will be deleted and you will be immediately put on “The List”.

Is “The List” a good list or a bad list?

You tell me.  Do you think something that I refer to as “The List” is a good thing?  Take a moment.  Really think that over while you look at my prom picture:

20190220_084551
It was a magical  night.

I’m not filling awkward silences anymore.  If you text me a “Hi” followed by jack jimmy squat, guess what you’re getting back?  Jack.  Jimmy.  Squat.

I will wait you out, joke-a-cola.  I will let that “Hi” lie there like a corpse if I have to.  I refuse to participate in your senseless games.  I won’t do it.  The ball-rolling is now your job.

Unless a full ten seconds go by, and then my palms will start sweating and I’ll tell you about that time my best friend Anne and I went on a date with five Moroccan contortionists and fire-eaters at Epcot when we were 19 and when I called my mother beforehand to brag about it, she yelled, “DON’T YOU MARRY ANY OF THEM! THOSE MOROCCANS TREAT THEIR WIVES LIKE PROPERTY!” because that shit is universally entertaining.

So!  To summarize:

  1.  Don’t quote the movie if you don’t actually know the quote.
  2.  Comedy is harder than drama.
  3.  There should ideally be a give-and-take in successful human communications.
  4.  Don’t tell my mother that you’re going on a date with Moroccan fire-eaters and contortionists.
20190807_083627
That Mighty Mighty Bosstones t-shirt I’m wearing never failed to attract inordinately flexible Northwest Africans.

I Would Rather Wear Cheese Than Go To Your Scentsy Party

I’m not sure there’s a more dreaded situation than someone calling you up and saying, “Hey!  What are you doing this weekend?”

Uggggh.  Even if I’m doing absolutely nothing, with the way you’ve worded the question, you’ve now forced me to answer, “I’m not sure?  I think there was a thing we were doing?  I’ll have to double check and let you know.  Why, what’s up?”

Know why I have to answer that way?  Because I have no way of knowing what kind of nightmare you’re going to try to pull me into with your vague-ass question.  What will it be?!

Let’s roll the dice, shall we?  I shall also provide you with a visual reminder along the way of who I am, just in case you forgot.

You want me to help you move and you live in a five floor walk-up, and when I show up you haven’t even STARTED packing yet?  I’m rolling the dice aaaand…

20190214_165735

You want me to work at your old high school’s band boosters gift wrapping even though I didn’t go to your school and was never in marching band to begin with?  Look, bucko.  I vowed to never return to my own high school after I emotionally limped away from that hellhole twenty-five years ago to nurse my wounds after four years of goddamned torture.  You can imagine my feelings about hanging around yours.

20190214_165735

You want me to come to your Scentsy party, which by the way I am never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever (*please see footnote at the bottom for further reference) coming to?  I would rather put on a scuba suit made of feta cheese and slide down a gigantic cheese grater into the arms of a nude, olive oil-coated Rush Limbaugh marinating in an ocean of balsamic vinegar.

(Don’t ask me, “What is Scentsy?”  Google it and then run for your life.  And for the love of god, my husband and mother-in-law read this blog, let there be no further talk of nude Rush Limbaugh.  In the entire universe.)

20190214_165735

You want me to come over for a “Wedding Video Watch-Party” where you will make everyone spend their Saturday night watching your two-hour long wedding video, and by the way I was actually present at said wedding?  I remember it well.  It just happened a month ago.

20190214_165735

Uh oh.  Someone said the word “wedding” on the interwebz, which is the opposite of pulling the emergency brake.  Here we go.  Make yourself comfortable!

Deep breath:

Besides your wedding, I was also present for the engagement announcement party, the ‘formal’ engagement party, the wedding dress shopping, the friends bridal shower, the family bridal shower, the bridesmaid dress fittings, the dual bachelor and bachelorette parties, the rehearsal dinner, the breakfast with ‘the girls’ before the wedding, the wedding reception, the after-party, the brunch the next morning, the goodbye dinner with your relatives FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ENOUGH WITH YOUR WEDDING THAT I HAVE ALREADY DEVOTED MONTHS AND MONTHS OF MY LIFE TO, NOT TO MENTION LIKE FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS UGGGGGGGH THIS IS WHY I ELOPED.

I can hardly wait until you have a baby so that I’ll have to quit my job in order to attend the “Destination Gender Reveal Party” you have scheduled at 10am on a Tuesday in Indonesia, where you will request that everyone show up in authentic costumes from Alice in Wonderland so we can make handcrafted Lewis Carroll books for your spawn out of sustainably-sourced bamboo paper; the very same party where you will insult everybody by loudly and snottily correcting anyone who doesn’t refer to the book by its proper title of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”.  LIKE IT MATTERS, SHARON.

What?  Of course I can bring the ice sculpture of the Cheshire Cat!  What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t?!

I’ll make you a deal.  If you don’t get mad when I decide to liven things up when you reveal the gender by collapsing into a heap of sobbing tears on the floor, raising both arms to the sky and crying out, “Oh god, why?!!!  WHY?????!!!!!!” then I’ll think about it.

Some of you people get married and have babies and lose ALL TOUCH WITH REALITY.  You can at least let me have some fun with it.

Okay.  I’m over it.  Wedding rant done.  Back to it!

You would like to get together for a nice evening of cocktails and conversation at that fantastic new place we’ve been wanting to try out? I’m rolling the dice…

We’ve got a 7!   7 is a winner!!

7BnQ

The point is, could be something awesome, could be something I would sell my soul to get out of, but with the way you asked, there’s no way to know until AFTER I’ve already told you my availability, which then means I’ll have no way to get out of it.  Give people an ‘out’ for Maude’s sake!

If you say, “Hey!  What are you doing this weekend?” and I answer, “Oh, nothing!” now I’m on the damn hook.

Now I look like a jerk if I turn you down for the hideous thing you want me to do, and that’s not fair, because there are way, way more interesting reasons that I’m a jerk, and now you’ve just made me look like an ordinary jerk, you bubblegummed bastard!

Interesting jerk behavior includes putting Worcestershire on everything before I even taste it, hating a sports team forever because I didn’t like a star player’s face who’s not even on the team anymore, hiding behind store displays when I hear someone yell my name out in public, and not feeling even remotely bad about blocking children’s views of the otters at the marine center.

< Eyeroll > I like the otters, too, Bryson/Greyson/Flotsam.  You’re not the only one who wants to see them frolicking.  Stop being so selfish, 8-year old!

 

*ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever

Once Bitten, One Million Times Shy

I suffer from debilitating shyness.  I know this is confusing to people who used to jam into dirty clubs and watch me hold court onstage over a room of sweaty drunk people, but what you were witnessing was a stunning display of acting.  I never started a single show in nearly ten years without a broken record playing in my head, screaming, “You cannot do this.  People are looking at you.  Run out of the building right now and never look back.  RUN!”

Thankfully, right when I was juuust about to fake a stomach cramp to get the hell out of there, the drums would start.  I would focus solely on the drums (because they were the only thing that was ever on time in that band (zing!)) and then, somehow, I would manage to make it through the set without nerve-vomiting on someone.  The other trick was to pick out one person in the crowd, and taunt them relentlessly the entire time.  That way my brain only had one thing to focus on, instead of focusing on a pile of people who were staring at me.  If I didn’t always have one exterior thing to focus on, I would have most certainly lost my shit and made a break for the closest exit.  It was like a miracle every time I pulled off a show without running out of the room in terror.

I never got used to it, but I found ways to deal with it.  Aside from focusing on one thing, I will tell you this much:  Drinks help.  I realize “drinks help” are the kind of words that eventually bite you in the ass when you wake up all dead and bloated at 27 and teenagers swarm your grave site every year on the anniversary of your death to give each other handjobs on top of your headstone, but I’m 41 now, so I no longer have to worry about anybody making blacklight wall tapestries of my face when I overdose on something in a bathtub.  People only make bad art of your face when you die in your 20s.  Nobody is going to print my face on a flag with the words “The Lizard King” printed under it.  Pressure’s off there!  So have a drink – it’ll loosen you up.

It also helps to pretend that you are not you.  I never, ever acknowledged to myself that that was me standing up there.  It was always someone who was playing a much cooler and confident version of me, but certainly, most definitely, not me.  The person up there is not the same person who hangs up on the pizza guy when he answers the phone when they realize they aren’t emotionally ready to talk to a stranger on the phone.  Definitely not the same person whose hands shake when they have to say “Two adults, please” to the movie theater box office person.  Absolutely not the person who has actually hidden under their desk to avoid having to speak to a customer.  If that person were the same person who climbed up on that stage on any given night, that person would have fainted every time.

I get that some people are just totally cool to be the center of attention – and here’s the thing – I totally am.  I adore being the center of attention, so long as you’re not looking at me, listening to me, or even thinking about me.  Because if I fully realize you are looking at me, or listening to me, or even thinking about me – it will freak me the fuck out.  Right now, as I’m writing this, I’m thinking about you reading it, and it’s freaking me the fuck out.

I get why this may be news to you.  Because while I am terrified of people I don’t know, I am capable of putting on a very convincing display when push comes to shove, because at the end of the day I’d rather be secretly terrified by staying in the room than be publicly humiliated by running out of it like a lunatic baby.  I make deals with myself constantly to just be able to stay in the room.  “If you stay in this room right now and keep talking to these strangers, later on I will let you hide in a bathroom stall!”  “If you stay in this room, you can watch two episodes of The Love Boat by yourself when you get home!”  I’m like the Monty Hall of Social Anxiety, but with considerably shakier hands.

That’s why I can’t really blame you (but I still will) for those times when you invite me out to dinner with you, and I show up expecting a relaxed evening of one-on-one conversation, but you had failed to mention you were bringing along ten people I have never met before in my life.  Springing a table of strangers on me makes me wish a sinkhole would open in the ground right under me and swallow me up in it so I can get away.  My palms are starting to sweat just thinking about it.

Keeping up the false appearance of being an extrovert is hard work on a regular day, but it takes a hell of a lot of mental agility to keep the sham going with a table full of people I’ve never met.  I am so mentally and emotionally exhausted after these types of encounters that I feel like a wrung-out rag when I get home, and it takes a full day of hermiting to feel okay again.

Here’s the thing – I like you.  I want to spend time with you.  I can put aside my issues with you looking at me, listening to me, and even thinking about me, because the exchange of your friendship and spending time with you is worth it to me.  I’ve run the cost-benefit analysis on it, and it’s a win.  But with ten strangers staring at me, you have completely thrown off said cost-benefit analysis.

Now instead of spending time with you, the person I know and like, I get to spend the evening really struggling to make small talk with people I’ll never see again, or worse, be forced to endure a one-sided conversation with your cousin who wants to educate me on how he became a Buddhist after he saw The Matrix, and I’m supposed to just sit there with a straight face and not punt a cantaloupe right into his frameless sunglasses.

Do you know how hard it is to stop thinking about punting a cantaloupe into someone’s face after you’ve fully formed the picture in your mind?  It’s not just the picture, either.  I’m imagining the hollow plonky-thump noise that it would make, and it’s the most satisfying thing I’ve heard since that time Steve Bannon said, “I’m going to unshackle you from the hot tub rail. You’re free to go.  Sorry I thought you were a teenage boy.”

I mean, I get it.  You people are natural extroverts.  I am not.  Mine is accomplished through Photoshop and trick mirrors and shit.