As a devout introvert, weekend visits are chimerical, that is rare and often terrifying. Attending family parties, being forced into polite but shallow conversations, and eventually seeking out a quiet place to hide and read or play games . . . the whole ordeal taxes my mind and spirit. Shame, guilt and anxiety build even if I do manage to escape to my comfort zone. Am I running away from my problems? Do I dislike the people with whom I surround myself? Maybe I’m afraid of crowds . . .Talking to two or three people at once is stimulating, but add half-a-dozen and the conversation nose-dives into general pleasantries or rehearsed opinions about sports. At worst, the conversation devolves into a lecture with the more competent speaker assuming the role of professor.
I had been teaching for nearly three weeks when the field trip fell apart. Much like flood, fire, and any other suburban disaster, the whole fiasco proved more horrible in the retelling afterwards amidst a room of anxious parents.
Teaching back-to-back classes to the middle school already had stretched my nerves thin. I had given up most attempts at sleeping, choosing instead to restlessly worry for about four or five hours and then stumble upstairs at four in the morning to wait for my morning commute. Typically – and I mean this in the corniest way possible – I thrive in the shadows of mankind, observing, taking notes and basically keeping to myself. Is that sad? Absolutely. Pathetic? No doubt. Anti-social? Hey, you’re three for three here. However, that’s me. I idolized Batman a lot as a kid. Continue reading
My travels today found Mom and me in search for water-proof fleece, rain coats, and other camping essentials for Kevin’s end-of-year school trip. Inspired by the beautiful weather, thoughts of a pleasant drive, and absolute necessity for the items by tomorrow morning, we drove off to the local L.L. Bean store for some much needed shopping.
Now Mom and I possess two different philosophies in terms of parking our car:
- Locate the first available parking spot, preferably as far away from other vehicles.
- Pull into spot.
- Put car in park and remove key from ignition.
- Hike the two miles to your destination (Frankly I need the exercise, and we all should try to walk more)
- Drive around through the maze of parked cars for the closest spot possible.
- If you pass more than ten parked cars, you have gone too far.
- If no parking spots are available, continue circling the parking lot like vultures until someone leaves.
- Upon finding a spot extremely close in proximity to your destination, pull in.
- Put car in park DO NOT TURN OFF IGNITION
- Look about you and wait twenty minutes, if you see anyone pulling out of a parking spot closer to the mall, quickly leave the secured spot and jump to the closer one.
- Repeat until parked adjacent to handicapped spots. Then if the mall is not closed, shop.
Honestly — with only a little exaggeration — Mom loves to capture that “close” spot. It’s the competitive streak in her, that blood-thirsty Celtic-warrior stare that melds onto her face whenever we play volleyball or softball. A trait we ironically share as years of video gaming have unearthed the battle-lust in my genes as well (particularly at Mario Kart and Tekken). Losing to Dasad’s Ryu in Street Fighter, usually prompts hours of intense training afterwards and a few hurried matches with my younger less battle-hardened cousins. The fact that few of them have played the game before or even know what buttons to push, bite, or gum is inconsequential at this point. I simply need the victory, the knockout, that cybernetic affirmation that I am still a man.
Yet when it comes to parking, I simply do not possess my mother’s patience. No sooner would I pull into a parking spot ten rows from the entrance to Nordstroms, then a Honda begins pulling out several rows ahead and Mom would shoot me that expectant disappointed look, suggesting “We could have parked closer if we hadn’t rushed.” Yes and we could, losing gas and shopping time in the process. However I do not say this. One thing I have learned in all my years of parking and gaming, sometimes the best victory demands a timely retreat. And no dishonor can be found in yielding to the chidings of your mother from time to time. Indeed it is good for them to vent now and again. Our two miles walks to the mall are rarely silent.
“Ooh . . . Murph, honey, you missed that spot. If I sat down here so that no other cars could enter, and you ran back to the car . . .”
“Come on, Mom . . .” I sigh, promising to grab myself and her a large mall-bought fruitshake before the afternoon ends. After all we need something to sustain us for the long hike back to the car . . .