Supposedly you learn something new everyday. Perhaps not consciously, but little facts and trivia worm their way deep into the gray matter, sticking there until needed. And sometimes you just get kicked in the nads with something you either didn’t want to know, or were truly clueless about.

Thumper’s lesson for today:

Being a little on the quiet side, a little bit shy, is a crime. Not one for which someone will find themselves running from cops brandishing pepper spray, but one for which someone might be summarily dismissed from their little circle of friends.

You get the idea.

Now, I learned this lesson after receiving email this morning; I happily opened it, thinking “Hey, how nice, for once it’s email from a friend and not spam.” (Ok, well, maybe not so Nancy-Nurse kind of reasoning, it’s sufficient to say I thought I was getting happy email.) Instead of happy no-spam, I get what could pass for a form letter, saying basically, “Because you tend to not participate in group conversations when we all get together, and because you have missed several group gatherings, you have been un-subbed from the group and will no longer be invited to future group activities.”

Ooh yeah, how’s that for friendly? Just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And then the wonderful cream-filled topper—when I tried to reply to the email, I got a canned response from this person’s ISP informing me that my address has been blocked. She kill-filed me. And when I checked, yes, I had been unsubbed from the online group (of which I was the first member) where we all originally met (suffice to say, it’s made up of people local to me.)

Yes, I am quiet. I don’t have a whole lot to say, and I’m a much better listener than I am a talker. This is nothing new, and this isn’t the first time that it’s been a problem. Many people take my silence as being stuck up, or just indifferent. And I can understand that. I don’t wear a banner proclaiming “Hey, I’m just shy!” nor do I have that tattooed on my forehead. They don’t know.

Yes, I’ve missed a few of the group activities. How surprising is it that someone who is night blind—which they all knew—would be unable to drive to something scheduled to happen after dark, when the Spouse Thingy was working? How terrible is it that I wanted to spend my birthday with him, instead of with people he doesn’t really know, and people who proclaimed “this is us only, no spouses or kids”? How uncaring of me to have medical problems that sometimes mean I can’t do some of the things they wanted to do. Yes, beat me about the head and shoulders because I am now physically unable to go jogging.

So…I’ve been “fired” from a group of people I thought were friends. I’m not terribly hurt, surprisingly, but I am pissed off that it was done in such a cowardly way.

So a hint to any other current friends or future friends: I am shy. I don’t walk up and insinuate myself into a group easily, even if I know them well. I don’t always know that I’ll be welcome. Even if I am welcome, I may not feel welcome. It’s my own insecurities talking.

I am quiet some of the time. I don’t always know what to talk about. I’m much better on paper, where I can edit. Chances are even though I am being quiet, I am enjoying just sitting around with you, doing nothing.

I am phone phobic. I don’t tend to pick up the phone to call. I don’t know why, it’s just that way. Yes, I can’t even call to make a doctor’s appointment. That’s why I have the Spouse Thingy. I understand the phone is not going to bite my ear off, nor explode in my hand, nor will whomever is on the other end yell at me for interrupting their day. I’ve always been this way, as far back as I can remember, and it’s not likely to change. I don’t like it, but I haven’t been able to change that.

New places and people terrify me. Again, I don’t know why. It’s not like my parents ever dropped me off in strange places and then ran away. It’s not as if some stranger jumped out from behind the clothing rack at WalMart and scared the crap out of me. It’s another thing that just is.

I’m not stuck up; I just don’t know what to say.
I’m not ignoring you; I just don’t feel comfortable plopping down without an invitation.
I’m not avoiding your social situations; I can’t be there after dark without someone to drive me.

But I can tell you what I am: I’m lucky you—you know who you are— were so gutless that you had to email me with a dismissal letter, because now I have a better glimpse of your true nature, and what you find to be more important. I never would have guessed that it was more important that I talk up a nonstop stream of nonsense rather than sit back and listen.

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