Feeling Naked While Fully Clothed

Do you ever walk out of the house, look around with confusion and that gut-wrenching feeling that something just isn’t right?

I do. It doesn’t happen often because every time it does, it’s so traumatizing that I vow never to make the mistake again.

That’s right. I got out of the house and all the way to public transportation or an empty bar where I was waiting for my friends, dug into my purse for a book and only after the digging turned frantic did I realize the awful truth.

I had left the house without a book.

These times, they are traumatic for me. I don’t do well with nothing to do. I’m libel to strike up conversation with inappropriate people, like the adorable couple obviously on a date who desperately want to ignore me while I attempt to make small talk. I might be caught staring off into “space” except that space is occupied by a woefully attractive boy who is flattered, at first, that he has provoked such adoration and then is creeped out when I don’t return his smile. He is merely breathing the air that I have chosen to stare at in that moment in time. I don’t do it on purpose. I can’t help myself. I just don’t know how to kill time without using Harry Potter, Kilgore Trout or Matilda as my weapon.

It’s part of the reason I so painstakingly always make sure there is a book in my purse. I’m so much more willing to be the laughing stock of a bar because I’m staring at my book instead of flirting with the guy trying to catch my eye than any other kind of laughing stock.

I was the girl who won contests like “Most Avid Reader” in the 8th grade. To make it worse (although I’m still rather proud of my win), one of my classmates called out my name in a loud stage whisper before the teacher did, prompting an auditorium of laughter as I went up to accept the certificate.

I once traveled on an overnight train (because the train only goes through Cleveland at 3 AM… no, seriously, check out the Amtrak schedule) to Springfield, MA to see my brothers with one small duffel bag of clothes and one large, sports equipment-sized duffel filled with books. My logic is always “BUT WHAT IF I FINISH THE BOOK I’M READING NOW!?” which almost never wins me points from whoever the poor relative is who foolishly offers to help me carry my bags.

The point is, I am simply one of those people who cannot be without reading material. I will read the ingredients on the cereal box at the kitchen table if it means that my brain and eyeballs are occupied.

I worry sometimes that this behavior is stunting my growth. I’m not really one of those people who goes to a new restaurant or bar and makes friends.

Then I remember…

I don’t really care if I don’t make friends with the people I’m silently judging for their inane topic of conversation. Rereading the journey that Ender takes from Earth to Battle School and beyond is much better than chiming in on who got the last rose on last night’s episode of The Bachelor.

I save those conversations for my friends on Facebook anyways.

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