Some people are born with confidence and some people aren’t. I have seen people who have ridiculously high self-esteem and I sometimes wonder: From where do you come with your fancy self-love and positive attitude? Because when I popped out, all those years ago, I came only with a head full of hair and a 40-piece set of emotional baggage. Yes, you go ahead and try to picture my mother giving birth to a matching set of luggage, but nothing good will come of it. Nothing. Good.
For as long as I can remember, I have been socially awkward. Maybe you could call me mildly retarded and in that case I would say you have been spending too much time with my brother and he has been showing you that picture of me from that time we went to dinner and I was looking mildly retarded. A picture is a brief moment in time, it is not the entire sum of one’s life! STOP PHOTOCOPYING THAT PICTURE AND TAPING IT TO MY CHRISTMAS GIFTS! That is not nice.
I can count off incident after incident in my life where my shy demeanor has impeded my ability to do something. Throw out some random situations and I can give you a story. Oh, like maybe you want to hear about how it impeded my ability to play with my friends?
Amy and Debbie, two sisters, lived down the street from me. I would often go over to their house and we’d play dolls or games or just listen to the old spooky Halloween record until someone started to get scared and cry. Whatever. But sometimes it was not so simple. Sometimes when I would come up to the door and ring the bell, one of them wouldn’t answer and I’d be standing there in front of their mom, a lovely lady, who would ask me what I wanted and wait until I could say I was there to play with her kids. And you know what? That day would never come…only tears and more tears and then after that, I would shit my pants and cry some more. What happened next? I can’t remember, she probably let me in to play once I started to cry from the humiliation of someone answering the door and saying hello to me. It is a miracle she didn’t just slam the door in my tear-soaked face and turn to her family and say “What the fuck was that? That little girl is INSANE. And oh, totally gay. Mark my words, she’s a homosexual. She is not allowed back here ever again. Because she’s insane, not because she’s so totally, completely gay.”
Or hey, how about when my shyness got me left in the woods on a small horse with no one else around? In preschool, we went to some horse camp once a week. I was pretty small so I only remember bits and pieces. The majority of what I remember is that we were riding these little ponies all together. They were hooked up to one another so we were like a chain gang of 4 year old caballeros. Well, I was in the back and at some point my horse was unhooked. UNHOOKED. And I was separated from the gang and apparently no one noticed because – hey – I’ve always been pretty good at being completely ignored by everyone. So I sat there quietly, unable to scream for help because – how embarrassing that would be, to scream for help. What would they think of me? He nibbled on some grass and otherwise was motionless and uncommunicative in any way. He did not reassure me with kind words or help pass the times with stories about his youth spent running free across the plains or smoking weed behind the evergreen tree with the kids of questionable moral character. I sat there for what seemed like 2 years, becoming more and more panicked with each passing day, watching sunset and sunrise as this stupid horse just sat there unmoving and unconcerned that I was now dead from dehydration and starvation and humiliation and terror. For two years we sat there, this horse and I, until finally someone came for us, acting like it was no big deal, like my skin hadn’t rotted off my bones and maybe they should call in a forensic scientist to identify my skeletal remains? No, just a click click that horse people make to get that stupid horse to take a few steps back to the end of the train where they hooked us back up and carried on like nothing had happened and my parents hadn’t spent every holiday for the past two years weeping over a photograph of me in my bedroom back at home. No, don’t worry about me, I’m not thirsty or so terrified that I threw up in my mouth a little bit, thank you. Just carry on like you have the worst job in the world, escorting 4 year-olds on unnaturally small horses through your woodsy backyard.
Then there was that one time I got into serious trouble for showing a preschool playmate, Brian, my underwear. I was actually showing him the picture of the ducks on the front of them because they were new and really, pretty cute. Apparently, flashing your 4-year old lady parts to some kid in your preschool class is inappropriate, so they called my parents who had to sit me down and have a long, humiliating talk about the responsibility of wearing a dress. And it is no wonder that I haven’t worn one in many years – I just can’t be trusted not to flash my goodies when I get a nice new pair of underthings. So, looking back, it appears that at one point I had some brazen self-esteem but I used it all up on that day in 1980. That is also where all of my heterosexuality was played and all I was left with was the gay. Just so much of the gay.