My son came home from the neighbor’s house about two hours ago for dinner and a Mommy. My daughter and my husband are still over there. It’s going on eight hours now.
They went over to watch the Ohio State vs Michigan game because some significant hill between us and Boston keeps us from getting television stations over the air. We’ve not had pay television since 2001, and I have no intention of starting now, especially for maybe three “essential” football games a year and PBS, which we really should be able to access for free. I mean, in what way is it “public” television if we’ve got to fork over a huge sum of money to a non-local business to get it on our tv?
But this post isn’t about the bizarre state of broadcast television these days; it’s about my antisocial tendencies.
When the rest of my family went over to watch football, I went grocery shopping. Then I dropped off a bottle of lemon juice at the neighbor’s house and checked on the kids. They were both fine (to the point that they barely registered my presence; my husband didn’t seem to notice me, either), so I went home and made some cookies, read some of Duane Elgin’s Voluntary Simplicity, boxed up some stuff to mail to friends and family, and played some Christmas songs on my flute. Every now and then my husband would call with updates and to invite me over to join everyone for dinner. It turns out the neighbors had a dinner party planned and were inviting our family to join them.
I’m in a bit of an insular mood right now. I feel a desire for quiet contemplation. I have a sense that there’s something I’m on the verge of understanding, a sound just on the edge of my attention that I could hear if I could just tune my ear to it. So I didn’t mind missing football and didn’t even feel weird about it, except that it seemed like my husband was watching the game alone on their projection television while the neighbors played with our kids.
The dinner is what got me feeling emotional discomfort.
I felt like I ought to go to the dinner. Apparently I was invited, too, several times, but a number of things kept me home:
1) I didn’t really feel like chatting with people.
2) I don’t like to burden people with my food things. Because they’re so friendly, I’m sure that if I tried to explain to them that I don’t eat gluten or dairy, they’d want to make me something else, and if I didn’t eat they’d try to make me eat something and I’d feel uncomfortable because here they made all of this food and invited me over and I was refusing to eat.
3) These neighbors are really, really friendly. I mean, like, really, really friendly. They give us things every time we go over there. They tried multiple times to pay for the lemon juice I brought them. And I’m a little ashamed to admit that I just don’t quite trust people who are too friendly. It seems absolutely impossible for someone to want us to just hang out at their house for 8+ hours without getting tired of us. I worried that they were just asking us for dinner to be polite, but they really wanted us to go home, already. My husband takes these things at face value and accepts invitations left and right. Sometimes, like with the football watching, he creates the invitation if it hasn’t been spontaneously extended. But I think I’d rather live in a culture where I’m supposed to refuse three times and if they still offer the fourth time, then I know for sure they really want me to be there. But for now, I’d rather refuse a legitimate invitation than risk accepting a “just being polite” invitation.
Reason #1 I can chalk up to normal introvert behavior. I really was happy to be alone today. But I fear that #2 and #3 are inching into the realm of something else. If I watched tv, I’m sure I’d see an ad for a drug to help me be more social, but since I don’t, I guess I’m stuck trying to figure out these things myself.
Where’s the line between introversion and antisocial behavior, between wanting to be alone and wanting to avoid social situations? And how on earth can a person tell if someone who’s unfailingly friendly is really, honestly friendly or is just being polite?
- The Introvert Playdate (imperfecthappiness.wordpress.com)