Saturday, February 14, 2009

Robliography: Intelligent Posterior

I thought I'd write today on being a smart alec, particularly on how I became one myself. Perhaps you may find it interesting. Perhaps not. But I'm gonna do it anyway cause it's my blog and I let *you* come here, not the other way around bucko. Or buck-et, depending on your plumbing.

Onward ...

I'm a very shy person until you get to know me. As a kid I was unbelievably so. I couldn't look someone in the eye. Had zero confidence. I'm not sure if that comes from not having a dad to "groom" me in the manly ways of macho-ness. And honestly I no longer really care, lol

But to say I had no confidence was an understatement. I was shy. But smart. School was easy. However, I was way too quiet for the other "cool" kids. So somehow they got the idea I was slow. Probably from me being virtually silent at all times and when spoken to, I never came up with a good answer even if the question was civil. I just couldn't find my tongue.

Then there is this whole thing I had going where I was bigger than most kids my age. Not fat just bigger, solid. Yeah stronger too. But they singled me out early as kids will do, drew their lines and I was on the outside. They were faster at sports, I was slower. So I didn't fit in there. That also eliminated my chances with any girls basically too.

So there I was. The smart, not fat, unconfident, quiet kid that just basically wanted someone to give me a chance. But instead, how they treated me was as though I was stupid, hopeless, unwanted, slow, fat and ugly.

Yeah school was buckets of fun for me.

Fun story huh? :) It gets better. And honestly this is fun for me to write about ... well, now it is.

Back in grade school they called me, among other things "freight train". I wasn't fast or agile but once I got going, nobody could stop me. I remember one time, for some reason a group of 4 to 6 kids decided (for whatever reason) they were going to knock me down in the playground. I don't remember why.

Now I've always had very, very strong legs. Just born that way (big country boy here). These kids divided up and grabbed my arms. Started pulling. Some were girls, some boys. But they couldn't move me. I have good balance. Pair that with good leg strength and I'm hard to knock down, even back then.

I gently slung them all off me, repeatedly and without hurting them (cause I wasn't mad I remember, just wanted them to leave me alone) ... until they finally did leave me alone. But I recall them stumbling down, getting up and either grabbing my arms or grabbing my waist and trying to get me down.

All the while here is me, knowing I "could" hurt them but having no reason to. I just tried to deter them. I never yelled. Never swore at them. Never hurt them. Heck I never spoke during the whole fiasco. Maybe I was weird I guess. I knew they didn't mean to be so mean and I was being patient with them. Perhaps maybe I somehow thought they’d accept me if they saw how gentle I was being.

So I told that long story to say this. That's pretty much how all of school went for me. I lived in a small town. Graduating class in high school of less than 200 kids. Unless they moved away, I pretty much knew all of those kids my entire school career. So over the years it added up.

I began to regret that I couldn’t even talk back effectively when they put me down.

Then my mom married a guy. He was a jerk. I often had to hang out with him, my mom and his brother and with his brother’s sons (who were much older than me). Quickly I was the odd man out there too. Those guys picked on me worse than the kids did at school. And my cup was getting full. I could never come up with smart replies in time to counter their bantering.

I cried a lot at night then. I was mad and had no way to let it out. I’m not one that you want to make mad enough for tears.

So I began to practice my comebacks. Cause I’m odd. I remember conversations very well. And I’m not exactly stupid. That’s a good combo sometimes. Most people speak in patterns and I also recognize patterns very well.

I began to practice and predict what they’d say in conversations based on previous experiences. I built complex scenarios in my head. Like playing “conversation” chess. I’d plan out their moves, mine, variations on both and then memorize it all. Then in conversations, I’d see how my patterns I’d memorized matched up against real life. I’d go back, practice some more, making adjustments based on what I learned.

Rinse repeat.
Um, for years.

You have to be dedicated, right? Or really, really hurt and angry.

I never used any of my new found comebacks on my step dad, his brother or his brother’s kids though. I saved it up. These were adults after all and I knew better than to flat out insult them. They were also a violent family. But that’s another story.

Now their conversations were far more “advanced” than kids my age in regards to insults. So I then began to use what I’d learned in one *very* awkward environment, in a less awkward, but still miserable one. School.

Yeah it was all born out of rage and anger. Not fun for me. Or those around me. The cherry on top for me, at the time, was in fact a bitter herb to my targets at school. I could “tell” pretty easy what someone’s weakness was and exploit that. Still can. I could drive straight to the heart of the matter, expose and embarrass them; quite eloquently and colorfully I might add, right in front of their most important friends. It was a shameful way to behave.

I wasn’t nice. And I didn’t freakin’ care anymore.

Like all kids that find a chink the armor I dug at it. This didn’t make me any friends either other than with the other outcasts in school who liked the guy who could cut down the popular kids. The outcasts had never even paid me any mind until I had something to contribute. But it was just good to be accepted by someone.

Years later I found some faith in something other than myself. That helped me a lot. I kinda went the other way though. Back to being quiet, reserved, introverted but for the wrong reasons. Just ones that I thought were better at the time. But turns out unhealthy is unhealthy.

Anyhow, eventually I leveled out somewhere in adulthood. I found some good work friends 15+ years ago. Guys honestly that wouldn’t have had anything to do with me back in school I’m sure. But once you’re past school people adjust their allegiances rapidly I found.

So using my powers of reading people, recording moments, and predictive communication I began again learning what I needed to “fit in”. But this time it was for fun. No malice. Just trying to keep up with guys who were faster than me in a conversation. But they weren’t mean. They liked me. Heck we were all geeks.

And finally I found my rhythm. I could keep up. Then quickly, I got better than them. Confidence rushed in then. I started talking to people more then because I had a “skill”, silly as that sounds, which a lot of people wanted.

The ability to hurl a good zinger when the time called for it.

Finding out that the skill was popular among adults was HUGE for me. All the repressed anger I had for those kids at school melted away. I grew and grew emotionally, like a tropical plant that had been kept in a dark cellar and was suddenly exposed to the sun for the first time. It was a rush!

So now I still watch people and their patterns and their behavior. However it’s not to “get” them. It’s to find ways to make them laugh. I LOVE to make people laugh. I don't go out of my way to cut people down. Although I still got it :)

But making people laugh, good hearty laughter, is much better. Yeah it still makes me feel accepted and sure I enjoy that. But I like to give. And if I can give a laugh to someone, wow, that’s a huge deal. There are laughs, stupid things I’ve done just to get someone to crack up, that people have mentioned to me much later.

My most favorite thing to do is to “wait” now though. Sometimes, although extremely rare, someone will get me and I’ll have nothing as a comeback. I’ll acknowledge them. And as my friend Jenn puts it, I adhere to the law of the jungle then. I do so enjoy waiting for good natured payback. It’s a beautiful thing. Remember though my name is Horton. An elephant never forgets as Dr Seuss kindly taught us. I think my record stands at around 2 years before I struck at the opportune moment for some truly worthy payback. :)

Finally … now, instead of being motivated by hatred and anger, I’m motivated by pure unadulterated orneriness. It’s the best I can do :)

But it’s worked out much better this way. And I have people who appreciate me for it. And it’s a nice feeling. Even nicer is the peace I have on the inside now though. The balance is a good thing to have.

Okay that’s it from me. Hope you liked this rant. It was good to get it written down. Thanks for listening/reading.


Jennifer said...

Okay that was a horrible story at first. Im so very sorry that was your experience. That just sucks. I sometimes wish I had a time machine where I could change, or fix someone's experiences.

Should I be worried about this crouching tiger I now think might be waiting to "get" me?

Rob said...

Funny thing. I also wish I had a time machine for those very same reasons ... much alike you and I are there.

And nope, don't worry, no crouching tiger here anymore. Just an ornery old friend who likes to tease ya :)

Heather said...

I've seen a little of the past, as far as some of the "characters" in it, and I too wish there was a way to erase some of those events. However, I am very thankful that I have the man standing before me, that does indeed have the ability to make me and others laugh nonstop and can use that humor as an outlet for himself as well.

That being said, he really does have a memory like a steel vice and will NOT forget a payback. :D Which can sometimes be very interesting, and dare I say it, sometimes enjoyable. ;-)