Know Your Rites
I will readily concede that my honesty has been a deficit. My integrity has improved a lot, like, 99%, since I turned sixty. So you will see me confess. To my character flaws. I'm not looking for sympathy, just understanding. I don't mind, I look at it as an issue of transparency. (For as long as I can remember, people could see, detect, read my mental state. Whatever combination of words and non-verbal cues I used enabled the observations—but left me feeling transparent. There's a saying: He wears his heart on his sleeve.)
My belief is the more authentic I am in the material I put up for the world, the more people will want to hear my stories. So without further ado…
I'm a dork.
It's true. I do dork things. Since I was little. I'm convinced there are dork genes. In my DNA.
I can say that, by definition, I'm a dork. Everything from the egregious 'contemptible' to the relatively minor 'socially awkward person'. (I like the Urban Dictionary version: a person in which is both academically inclined and 'fans' over things, also is silly and clumsy.)
Oddly, I have been aware of my dorkiness for quite some time. My first memory is from third grade (and there are memories from every grade ), when I noticed that all the questions my classmates asked were ridiculous and stupid…and that whenever I asked a question, everyone, including the teacher, would give me a look.
See, in classic bit of ego run roughshod, I thought it was my classmates that were dorks. I'm normal, everyone else is weird. I didn't tumble to the meaning of it, but I did notice it. It would be some years before I began to understand just how Abbie Normal I am.
Problem was/is that my schema is Attention Seeker (AS). When you're AS, the dorkiness is amplified. Because I was incapable of seeing it as a problem, I acted out. Early and often. (For years I carried around a second-grade report card that indicated, just as in previous reports, that I had a problem controlling my talking.) I was the class clown, and kids like to laugh, so as time went by, some of that dorkiness was submerged in the things you expect a clown to do.
For a long time, my dorkiness didn't bother me. Circa sixth grade, as I made my way into early stage puberty, I became more acutely concerned with my popularity. Oh yeah, that…that put the dorkiness on steroids. I am terrible around strange females. I just don't know what to talk about that won't sound dorky! Naturally, I'm a dork, I have dork stories. Which people cannot relate to.
I did eventually discover that if I didn't have anything but dork stories to offer, I could make stuff up! (Have I mentioned a problem with personal integrity?) I thought so. In a social setting, say, trying to have a conversation that won't reveal my dorkiness, I might describe my employment in great detail for a nonexistent position, or, go the complete opposite direction, and avoid inquisitive minds by claiming "I work for the DEA, I'm not allowed to talk about my work".)
Of course, lying was not the anti-dork cure I had planned.
I was always on the lookout, an incessant search, for an antidote to my dorkiness. While I could pretend to be cool, for stretches of time, wearing the right clothes, having the right haircut, saying only cool things when possible…but that dork streak persisted, progressed, even. The older I got, the more incongruous I became with peers. Other dorks shed their dork identities as they got older, as they matured. Me? Well it's kind of a long story. Suffice to say is that I never surrendered my inner child. And as that child was a dork, all the dork thinking and behavior would continue. Ad infinitum.
Now, however…now that we're home-bound. I don't have social interactions to draw attention to all that's dork. I will tell you that isolation serves to exaggerate my dorkiness. When it comes to the clumsy part? Oh em gee, that's escalated to horrific proportions. I like keeping my hands on the keyboard for extended periods because that way I can't knock anything over! Serious, running my shoulder into the door jam, WTF, billy? Have trouble threadin' the three foot wide needle do we? When I put my shirt on a minute ago, when I pushed my hand up through the left sleeve, I was too close to the wall and bashed my left knuckles on the drywall.
Anyway, now ya know. I try to squint the possibility away, but I have to presume my dorktitude shows up in my writing. Feel free to identify my dork content in the comments or via email. I think the jury is still out over whether my dorkiness can be arrested. I truly believe that my dork qualities derive from the most fundamental components of my being. This isn't just programming. This is evolution at work.
I just can't figure out whether I'm in the pool with the survivors or I'm on a side rail, waitin' to be culled.