Day 11 of Shredded Comfort
Special relativity tells us that as the speed of an objective with mass increase, it needs more and more energy to continue accelerating. As it approaches the speed of light, the energy required becomes infinite, and it reaches a point where no matter how hard it tries, it just can’t go any faster.
This is an apt metaphor for awkward social situations. The closer you get to actually performing the dreaded act, the more and more willpower needed to go on. It feels like the will needed to transition from a state of standing next to a stranger to one where you ask that stranger to borrow his shoes is infinite, and it can’t be achieved no matter what you do. Of course, this is where the metaphor falls apart. Not arbitrarily, but beautifully. Because unlike energy, willpower isn’t real. The obstacles aren’t real. Once you take that leap, you aren’t any more depleted than you were the moment before.
Jeesy creezy, I sound like a new-agey self-help book. But new agey self-help materials never make physics metaphors, right? Right?
Today’s challenge almost stymied me. And it didn’t have anything to do with shoes.
I had a lot to do today (because I gave myself ridiculously sized goals list for some reason), so it had to be someone I could stuff into my other chores, such as grocery shopping. I decided I would go up to a stranger in the produce section and pretend that I knew them, and just see how far it went.
I had no idea it would be so difficult to make myself do this. As I wandered around picking out mushrooms and zucchini and looking at all of the grumpy people choosing which type of apple to buy, the invisible pressure not to do this wrapped around my throat. What got me to just go ahead and take the plunge was the thought of writing a blog post about failure. What a lame thing to fail at! Honestly, if it wasn’t for public socially pressure I would never get anything done.
I tried first with a tall, large man standing at the deli counter who looked like he could squish my head with any two of digits, including his toes if they were prehensile. Which I’m not willing to rule out. I walked up to him and said, in a friendly and familiar voice, “hey!” At that precise moment the person behind the deli counter was ready and started to take his order. How awkward! The tall man looked back at me as I scurried away and disappeared into the crowd. Probably he heard my voice and saw the back of my head for just a moment and thought I was his long-missing cousin who was his closest childhood friend and still had his Greatest Steel Drum Hits of the 80s collection and now that’s all he’ll think about for weeks and his life will miserable.
But we’re talking about me, here.
I felt a bit weird, but I was committed, now. So I walked up to a middle-aged woman scoping out the sliced bread selection and started to talk.
“Hey!” I said jovially. “How are you doing?”
“Good,” she said.
“I didn’t know you lived around here,” I said.
She stared at me. “Do I know you?”
“Jesse!” I said, and I’ll admit I was disappointed that there are people out there who haven’t heard of me. “I cut my hair off recently.”
“Um…” she stammered. At that point I decided enough was enough, and that I’d cut the poor woman loose.
“You know what,” I said. “You just look exactly like one of my coworkers. I am so sorry.
She laughed. “It’s okay.”
“Wow. This is awkward.”
“It’s fine!” she said, still laughing. “I was wondering, have I met this guy before?”
“No, it’s cool,” I said. “My mistake.”
And we departed friends. I mean, not really friends, but we were probably on friendlier terms than nearly any two strangers in that entire supermarket. I kept hoping I’d run into her during the rest of my trip so we could exchange smiles and laughter. My goal was to make myself uncomfortable, but I really think I put her in a slightly better mood than she was before.
Also, my article from yesterday was accepted, and got a 5 star review. It’s been a pretty good day.