As family legend has it, I once became so tired of standing in one neighbor's doorway as my mother attempted to extricate herself from yet another grueling session of cigarettes and coffee that I evacuated my bowels in hopes of hastening our exit. Though I was just shy of two years old, I had begun to set a pattern that would extend into my adult life. Happily for all concerned, I have become much more discreet about my methods, but I still don't like "chatting."
This was always much more of an issue with my father, who seemed to know every third person in Boulder County, and if you spent any time at all with him, that meant you were going to be catching up with that fraction of the people whom we encountered on our travels. My response was always pleasant to begin with, and quickly degenerated to constantly shifting my weight from one leg to the other, accompanied by heavy sighs. Whether or not my dad was oblivious to my suffering I will never know, since he never seemed to notice all the flopping and moaning out of the corner of his eye. I was hostage to my father's endless good humor and enthusiasm for others.
It makes perfect sense to me that when I got married that I would find someone who could replace that experience in my life. Not only does she seem to know a disproportionate number of the inhabitants of this sprawling urban area, but she also seems completely willing to introduce herself to those with whom she has not already become familiar. And so I smile, and shift my weight, and sigh. Waiting for the moment which she turns to me and says, "So and so, this is my husband, Dave." Suddenly I am no longer merely an appendage and I am forced into obligatory interaction. I shake the hands that are offered and always assure So and so that it was a pleasure meeting them, too.
Whether it's true or not. At least I don't have to go home and change my pants anymore.