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Thursday, September 17, 2015

5 Social Expectations that are Totally Weird but We All Have

First, a story:

A few years ago, I worked as the Video Department manager for an entertainment store.  This was perfect for me, because I could hide in my department most days, avoiding human interaction under the guise of alphabetizing, cleaning, and otherwise making my department awesome.  There were only a couple of problems with this job: 

  • Customers still sucked.  Something about retail stores make people revert back to toddler-hood, unable to put things back where they found them and somehow - for some confounding reason that I still haven't figured out - unable to touch anything without sweaty, sticky fingers;
  • Porn.  Oh. My. God.  SO MUCH PORN.  I don't have a problem with porn in general, but holy Rule 34, Batman... just... people are gross;
  • Remember when I told you that I randomly sing about everything?  And you know how the audio that plays on a loop in most retail stores, coupled with the combined clatter of all the people in the store, the coffee machines in the cafe, the different audio playing in each department - you get the idea - makes it really, really easy for people to sneak up on you?

Totally not even necessary.  
So there I was one day, happily alphabetizing dramas and well into about the third verse of a song from Fiddler on the Roof, when I get the distinct feeling that I'm being watched.   I ignore that feeling, because I'm in the zone, but my body does this weird thing where it will involuntarily twitch and spasm if I'm left alone and singing or there's music anywhere in the vicinity.  Some people might call this dancing, but dancing is calculated and requires rhythm; this is more like intermittent episodes of a seizure that can't decide if it's worth its time to fully hit or not.

 Imagine this, split up into 3-second pieces, interrupted by moments of deep alphabetizing concentration, alongside a dorky white girl's quiet rendition of "If I were a Rich Man."  Also, I'd be wearing a shirt.  Maybe.

Anywho, there I am, singing and alphabetizing and seize-dancing, when I happen to look up and see three sets of eyes peering at me around a corner.  After another full verse.  

Being the dork I am, I totally played into it instead of shrieking and running away like a normal person would do.  It helped that it was my niece, nephew, and a friend of theirs, but it's not generally normal to do a one-person rendition of old-school musicals at work in the middle of a retail store and not really care if you get caught.

And that, dear readers, is what brings me to the subject of this post - what the hell is "normal" and who the hell decided that it was?  Here are 5 things in particular that I'm still figuring out.

1.  Talking to Yourself Makes You a Crazy Person.

You know how, when you've triumphantly finished all the dishes in the sink and made your way back to the living room to settle in with a bag of Cheetos and a well-deserved Netflix session, and find a stray bowl with a spoon cemented into the bottom thanks to a good eighth of an inch of two-week old milk/Cinnamon toast Crunch crumbs wedged between the couch cushions?  And you mutter to yourself, some combination of half expletive/half guttural grunts - "son of a - URGH" "motha - RAGH!"  And then you continue to mutter-curse, as you carry the bowl/science-experiment-gone-awry back into the kitchen, throw it into the sink, fill it with water to soak because that shit ain't comin' out without a f*cking chisel and how f*cking hard is it to bring a f*cking bowl back into the kitchen like I don't have enough shit to do in a day my family wants to live like a bunch of f*cking feral piglets..."  

...yea.  That's all well and fine in the privacy of your own home, but try that shit at Wal-Mart or just walking down the street, and suddenly people are looking at you crazy and mothers are ushering their small children as far away from you as possible.

Just be very still and don't look them directly in the eyes, baby.  

We all talk to ourselves sometimes.  It can be a muttered rant or deep thoughts that seem somehow easier to sort through when spoken out loud - but we all do it.  So why is it so disturbing to see someone do it in public?

I have no idea, but it's totally fun to walk around quietly repeating catch-phrases on the packaging of products in the store and watching as people scatter like a hyena's just escaped from the zoo and decided to go shopping for reasonably-priced produce.  Plus, it makes shopping trips much quicker when you've scared off those assholes that like to block off entire aisles talking to each other for an hour.

2.  You're Not Allowed to Have Bodily Functions.

Okay so... I get not running around busting ass willy-nilly in public because - gross.  There are far too many examples as to why that expectation is completely acceptable to even list here.

BUT - why do people, especially women, have to pretend that they don't even have assholes outside of their own personal bathrooms, and preferably only when the house is completely empty and all the neighbors on the block are gone to work?  Like a woman would rather literally explode from gas pressure build-up than accidentally let a boopsie slip ever.   

That seven-layer bean dip was a BAD idea.

Alright men, I'm about to destroy everything you thought you knew about women up to this point: Women fart.  Women poop. Yes, just like you.  Only worse, because women are always doing those crazy diets and salad and green tea shits are the worst.   Women burp.  Women sweat.  Yes, even the hot ones - not just Grandma, who's too old to give a shit who she offends and probably doesn't even know that she lets out a little toot each time she takes a step.  

And ladies - we all know that you act all prim and proper and you always smell pretty because you shower twice a day and drown yourself in expensive soaps, lotions, and perfumes - but when you stepped out of the room just now, saying that you needed to grab a pen or get some fresh air or whatever, we know what you really did.   It's the reason your eyes are glazed over and the small dog that followed you is now walking sideways.  

So the next time your Dad or your brother or your husband accidentally rips one in your presence, don't act all judgey.  Don't act like you didn't just do the same thing in the other room under the guise of a cough and a poor, innocent dog who is now brain damaged and doesn't understand why he's being chided for being a nasty, farty boy.  Accept that it's just a normal bodily function and get on with your damned night.  Or have some fun with it, whatever.

Good execution, but the landing was a little sloshy sloppy. Also, please flip the cushion.

3.  The Right Amount of Eye Contact is a Slippery Slope.

We all know that when we're talking to somebody, maintaining eye contact is important for conveying that we're paying attention and interested in the conversation, no matter how many times they've told us about that time they dressed their cat as Snow White and it was sooo funny.

I'm going to kill this f*cking human twice.

But what about when you're NOT having a conversation? When you're walking down the street?  Or when you're standing at the bar just looking around because your friend's having a deep, drunken conversation with someone they just met in the bathroom and you happen to look right at someone who's oddly looking right at you?  Look away too quickly, you're a snob.  Look too long, and it gets all stalkery.  Or they think you want them and they get obnoxiously overzealous.  Okay, I guess that's still stalkery, just on their part.  Either way, no bueno.  

I don't really have a solution for this one, either.  Best I can do is, if they start to look uncomfortable, look away.  Or pretend you were really checking out that amazing painting right behind them and they're the weird one for looking at you so long.  Or, if they return your accidental gaze with creepy porno eyes, run.  Especially if it's followed by a wink or a lame-ass finger gun.

"I don't know, he's actually kind of cute."
-- Seven...teen shots of tequila

You know what?  Just don't look at anyone unless they're speaking directly to you, ever.  It's safer that way.

Speaking of...

4.  If You're Quiet, You're Weird.  Or dying.  Or a Snob.  Or a Psycho.

So you're sitting at a party or other gathering and everyone's talking, laughing, and having a good time, and you're either sitting back quietly observing or have your nose in your phone because either you're shy, you're just not feeling it, or you don't really feel like you have anything to add to the conversation.

"What's their deal," people mutter to each other when they think you can't hear.   Or, they just get right up in your face, "what's wrong?  Why are you so quiet?  Are you okay?  Loosen up!"

... and that just makes you self-conscious.  Your mind reels, trying to find something coherent to say, and all you can muster is a weak shrug as you desperately try to bury your face back into your phone.  

But why, for the love of introverted lack of need to fit into large groups, must a person be vocal if they don't want to be vocal? Why is it so f*cking weird that someone might not want to jump into a group conversation about a band they don't know about or don't like, or a gossip fest, or a dick-joke telling contest (although personally I don't know why anyone would ever want to avoid one of those)?  Maybe they don't know much about whatever's being talked about.  Maybe they don't give a shit about it.  Maybe they're uncomfortable.  Or tired.  Or don't want to say something stupid in front of that hot new person that just walked in.  

... and it was going so well when we first locked eyes ...

Why are we expected to interact with each other just because we happen to be sitting in the same room?  How is awkward small talk any better than sweet, beautiful silence? Damn, some days you just don't want to deal with people - even the ones you actually like.  

5.  No One Gets to Have a Damn Opinion Anymore.

So you just said you don't really care for bacon and your group of friends, the waitress, and the entire population of the restaurant you're sitting in just gasped and is now looking at you like you just stabbed a crippled orphan puppy in the middle of the table.    Or, you simply express the opinion that you don't think Hillary is a bad idea for President, since - hello, she didn't do too bad of a job running the country when Bill was in office -  and Donald Trump busts through the wall like the f*cking Kool-Aid Man and screams in your face that you're irrational and incapable of having a valid opinion because you have boobs and are obviously on your period.  Even if you're a dude.

One doesn't have to understand biology when they're sitting on a billion dollar empire and own the most wicked comb-over ever.

Alright, maybe that last one's a bit of an exaggeration, but holy shitake mushrooms, Batman - state an opinion that differs from someone else's and be ready for the crazy to burst forth and land right in your face, all loud and obnoxious and lacking any logical reasoning whatsoever.

You mean you have thoughts in your head-cave and dare let them seep out of your mouth-hole like they matter just as much as anyone else's?  No, f*ck you, bacon-hating heathen, you're the reason this country's going to hell in a hand basket and I'm going to shove my opinion down your throat 50 different ways, until you either come to your senses or you choke on it.  

Everybody's right.  Everybody's offended.  Somehow, we've reached a point as a society where it's no longer necessary to discuss and debate anymore, where there's no such thing as a happy medium, and we're pretty much the equivalent of a Kindergarten class in grown-up bodies whose teacher got smashed and accidentally left the lids off all the glue in a tightly sealed, poorly ventilated room.  

Ooooh, Doody Head doesn't like bacon?  You will, mutha.  You will.

... and I'm already done with people for the day.  I'm going back to bed.

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