Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Art of Ignoring

Tonight is the night of The Gutter Twins show in DC, and I couldn’t be more excited. This morning I’ve been chatting with Betty Beatdown, who will also be in attendance tonight, and we’ve been discussing the possibilities of seeing people we haven’t seen in years at the show – just like we did at The Pogues last week. What will we do? Go up to them or ignore them?

We all experience this conundrum. You see someone you haven’t seen in a while, and the distance associated with time keeps you from go up to that person and interacting with him or her, even if you were the best of friends.

Why do we do this? Are we afraid we’ll be rejected by the person? Do we not know what to say? Do we have nothing interesting to say?

I told Betty that I’ve been “into” going up to just about anyone I know or knew lately and talking to him or her.

Firstly, I’m really shy on the inside. I was painfully shy as a child. I still sometimes have a hard time returning phone calls to authors, vendors, or my doctor’s office. By going up to someone, I’m forcing myself to face my fear, and I swear to you I get high from it – it’s a total rush. Skydiving? No thanks, “talking to strangers or old friends” is enough of a rush for me.

Secondly, I like seeing the reactions of the people I go up to, because we both know we’ve been eying each other from across the room for half an hour or more, yet the person always acts like they haven’t seen me, which is total bullshit, but that’s fine. Aside from that, I really enjoy hearing about how someone is doing or what he or she has been up to. It’s just about the only time I can shut my mouth and listen. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but I do like to talk a lot, and I sometimes realize I’ve been talking AT someone at a party for a good 20 minutes without asking him or her a single thing about him or herself.

So, what do you say when you go up to that old friend and they ask what you’ve been up to?

Well, for those of us who skate, derby is a good thing to pull from under your hat. It’s interesting. If people know about it, they think you’re cool. If people don’t know about it, they want to, so you have something to talk about, and then they think you’re cool.

It’s a bit of a moral conundrum, however. Most of us involved in derby are the people who hate popularity as it exists anywhere, yet by dropping the “I’m in derby” line, we’re for better or worse buying into that ourselves or presenting it to the person to whom we’re talking to buy into. But then what do you do, not tell people about derby – that thing you do 30 hours a week outside your job? That thing you work so hard for and are so proud of? It’s hard NOT to talk about it. Perhaps it’s just the universe righting itself, and I’m thinking about it too much. What’s up with me digressing?!

In any event, if I see anyone I know tonight, I’ll go up and talk to them – as long as my spot where I can see the stage is secured (I’m 5’1”). It should be interesting.

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