Sunday, April 22, 2012


Brave - adjective, noun, verb

1. possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.
2. making a fine appearance.
3. Archaic . excellent; fine; admirable.
7. to meet or face courageously: to brave misfortunes.

The final "Contemporary British Novel"-class was a very busy one. It was kind of a tense atmosphere. Our wonderful teacher started off by telling us we were short on time and had a lot to go through. It was a Friday, exams were looming in the corner of everyone's eye, and it was just one of those days.

In my head I have named groups of the 50 or so people in my literature class. There's the drama people, the geek squad, the hipsters, the exchange students, the catcher in the rye crowd, the punks, the freaks, the dames and the loners. I like them all, and I mean every one of the names in the nicest possible way, it's just a way to place them in my mental map of the world.

 Most of the geek squad had chosen White Tiger as their  book (we all had to choose one of the six as our book to talk about), so they were getting ready to give their presentations. One of them, a really sweet guy I've talked to a couple of times( who's also into Dungeons and Dragons and therefore gave the name geek squad to the geek squad) was about to give his presentation, but he looked really really nervous.

Something happens to a crowd when the speaker looks nervous and begins nervously. People try to avoid eye contact. They squirm a little in their seat. Some feel sorry for the person, and try desperately to find something the speaker says to take notes from, just to make it look like the nervousness doesn't bother them at all. We were 50 squirming people.

He gathered his papers, cleared his throat, and said something like this: I'm sorry if I stutter or stumble. I do that when I'm nervous. I am really nervous now, so just know that I'll be imagining you all naked.

Oh, sweet relief.

We all laughed. What an effective way to defuse the situation! Tension melted away and the awareness of the awkwardness made it way less awkward.

He then got on to give a stumbling, stuttering presentation, but with some of the very best points that were given that day! What a brave thing to do, I thought. Playing your weakness face up on the table.

I never do that. I tend to avoid situations where I don't feel I have the upper hand, and I don't like admitting I'm scared or uncomfortable. But I will try this now, this new thing. So here goes:

I get extremely uncomfortable in regular social settings. Wherever I don't have a clear role, be it class representative, teacher, "hobby psychologist", supportive person or quirky-positive-friend-to-hang-around, I  get nervous, my hands get clammy, and my mouth gets dry. I desperately try to think of random facts I know, just to have something to talk about. When found I blurt them out, and in the frightening awkwardness that inevitably follows I  try to change the mood by asking overly direct questions. I am a train wreck.

It happens because I am a socially awkward person. I beg your pardon if I seem flustered, stuttering or random. It will get better with time, as I get to know you better, or manage to define my role in our relationship.

Until then, just know I'll be imagining you naked.

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