I'm pretty sure I have a mental illness.

When I'm by myself, in my head, writing things down on screen or in my Moleskine, I think I'm pretty with-it. I'm not using that in the ironic sense. I truly think I've got a mainline to dope, hip, bitchin', and other words that are rarely used anymore to convey how cool someone is. I'm pretty fly.

All that fly-ness gets me into a pretty confident stride, too. Almost a strut, really. Basically, as long as I'm throwing down sweet word science I am rockin' out with my proverbial ... junk ... out. Sorry ... I think there are kids present. But then I'm pulled short, and I bust out all Jerry Lewis.

Sometimes, when I get into a real-world, three-dimensional social situation I suddenly become that guy who says awkwardly inappropriate things into the silences of conversations. I'm the guy everyone stares at, nods at, and agrees with condescendingly. I suddenly become the guy everyone pities in the conversation. And that ain't right.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I have my share of "leave 'em rolling" moments. Put me with the right group at the right time and I'm damned hilarious. Hi-lar-i-ous. But not all the time, unfortunately. There are those moments, usually when I'm trying to fit in with a hip crowd in a hip place while consuming hip food, that I become "Odd Cousin Billy" and nothing I say or do comes out quite right. Friggin' hate that.

I pride myself on my social skills. I know I can be abrupt and inappropriate. I've made it a lifestyle choice. But I can talk to anyone about anything, and that's a fact. Except sports. Can't talk about sports. Can't ... relive ... the pain ...

So what the hell is it that comes over me when I'm out with these hip folk in hip places, and suddenly I'm a candidate for the short bus and a permanent bicycle helmet? I wouldn't call it "social anxiety." I'm not feeling any anxiety at that moment. More like "social oblivion." I suddenly feel like I could abruptly stand up, walk out and drive home and no one at the table would even wonder what happened to me. But take my pants off ONE TIME in the middle of a crowded restaurant and everyone suddenly notices. Unreal.

Anyway, I had one of those awkward moments today, and no matter how cool I tried to play it I still felt like the guy with the booger on the tip of his nose. Thankfully I had my iPhone to keep me company and make me feel loved and/or appreciated. iLoveYou, it said. And I believed it.

Also, I was able to use the camera to check for boogers. Free and clear. Oh yes.



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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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