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    The sign that leads the way / The path we cannot take

    Can we please call a moratorium on asking other adults, “Why are you so quiet?” That kind of question is just–just barely–passable when addressed to a five-year-old you’re trying to encourage not to be shy about joining a conversation with all the adults.

    When the person you’re addressing is 32, it’s inane. I mean, what answer are you expecting, pray tell? “Well, the truth is, I’m painfully shy, and I was just waiting for a big, strong busybody like you to come over here and bring me right out of it”? Maybe next time, I should make my eyes swim dangerously and say, “I’m trying out my Jeffrey Dahmer act,” just to see how that goes over.

    I know I sound obnoxious here. There genuinely are painfully shy gay guys who just wish people would come up to them and flirt when they go out, and here I am bitching that guys are talking to me and asking questions that don’t suit me. But that’s not my point. My point is, if you want to start a conversation, start a conversation. I have no objection to being asked where I’m from, how long I’ve been in Japan, do I like Tokyo. Those are the obvious points of departure, but you’re supposed to use them to depart somewhere. I’m flattered when someone takes an interest in me, but I don’t consider it a proper conversation if I’m just being called upon to hold forth on the details of my personality, particularly when my interlocutor then feels at liberty to pass judgment on whether I’m too this or not enough that.

    Anyway, regarding quietness: I can’t speak for anyone else, but I, for one, am capable of loudly and gratingly monopolizing conversations when I’m in one of my moods. If I’m not doing so, I’m not in one of my moods. Be grateful for lack of bounty. It’s nice of you to reassure me that I don’t need to feel all abashed in front of the grown-ups, but it’s also unnecessary. (The first time, I mean–to say nothing of the next ten repetitions.)

    2 Responses to “The sign that leads the way / The path we cannot take”

    1. John says:

      Not to mention that the truthful answer might be: “y’all are such a passel of ijits that I just don’t feel like joining in.”

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Yeah, that’s one of the things that get me. Sure, I’m a pretty confident guy, but I fear rejection as much as any normal person. Ergo, before I deliver a line, I kind of try to figure out what the worst way it can backfire on me is so I can either be ready for it or say something else. And, as you say, the obvious way “Why are you so quiet?” can backfire on you is the response, “I’m not when there are interesting people around.” Not that I’d ever say that–despite the provocation.