Today we attended a two year-old’s birthday party. It was awesome to see some friends I haven’t been able to hang out with since I went back to work. We keep up on Facebook, but IRL (in real life) is so much nicer. I mean, with these people it is. I love Facebook mostly because it means I never have to see people, but I still get to pretend I have “relationships.”
Which got me thinking about the introvert/extrovert thing. I’ve always considered myself the latter. I talk to people easily. I like being the center of attention in a crowd, as long as it’s not because I just jammed my foot in my mouth. Hell, I became a teacher, which puts me “on stage” from 8 a.m. to 12:21 p.m. every day, at which time I convene to the “round table” in the teachers’ cafeteria to grab the spotlight some more. There’s much more competition there, though. I think most teachers are spotlight grabbers. Why else would we choose to do what amounts to daily public speaking engagements? Oh, right, I almost forgot. It’s the huge salary for part-time work that attracts us. (Hey, Dr. Keith, go “ablow” yourself!)
Disclaimer: when you look at the hours I just quoted, you may think “That sounds pretty ‘part-time’ to me.” I actually DO work part-time, and get paid accordingly. But I almost never leave work before 4:00, because I hate to take work home. I never do the work. I take it home, but it basically just gets a ride in the car and then a quiet evening in my bag in front of the TV. I’ve taken my work on lots of vacations, too. My work has been to Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Washington. It’s well-traveled work.
Even before I took this job, I felt at home in front of an audience. Jerry Seinfeld once joked that people fear public speaking more than death, so at a funeral, they’d rather be the guy in the coffin than the one giving the eulogy. Not true for me. And I’m the one who makes a few well-timed (in my opinion) wise cracks at faculty meetings and staff developments too.
Odie is the opposite. He is at ease in front of a classroom, but he despises social situations. Today, he was so grateful that I told him he should stay home from the party. He has a hard enough time making small talk with people he knows well, and he always leaves convinced that he made everyone feel uncomfortable and they all hate him. All of our post-party drives home consist of Odie deconstructing the evening, usually by beginning with “I don’t think X Person likes me.”
He would have smiled and made nice conversation and played with the kids, but inside, he would have been struggling. I don’t want my husband to struggle on a Saturday morning. I want him to relax from a long week at a difficult job. I teach English to immigrants, which is a real-life skill they can take directly from the classroom and use. And they STILL aren’t interested. Imagine how those teenagers feel about advanced math. Let me put it this way, how do YOU feel about advanced math? Exactly.
And if he ended up feeling like cleaning the kitchen because he was so grateful. Who am I to complain?
Odie is an introvert and I am an extrovert, but we’re both isolaters. It makes us fantastic homebodies. Although, I suspect that most people become homebodies when they have kids and they like their homes. Right now, I’m sitting in my chair that Odie has dubbed “The Throne” and he is on the couch next to me. We are both on our laptops in the dark, the soft bluish glows illuminating our faces. I glance every thirty seconds or so at the video baby monitor to see V tossing and turning but staying asleep (too much cake and ice cream today, probably). Together, but in our own little worlds, alone together.
Being with people today filled up my extrovert cup, left me satisfied and ready to be alone. V has a book called “One, Two, Three,” by Sandra Boynton, and the last line is “And one is wonderful after a crowd.” She’s a philosopher, that Boynton, because it really is true(and because piggies were born to be chubby and pink). And I think that in a solid, working relationship, you do feel comfortable being “alone together.”
Especially since I know that if I flashed him my boobies, there’d be all kinds of togetherness.
My husband is like Odie, but he uses jokes as a defense. He always has to mentally prepair himself for the party, even if it’s with his friends or family. People don’t believe me when I tell them he is shy, but that’s because they think he’s the life of the party. I prefer to be home, but on the rare occasion I crave a girl night, just to remember who I was before diapers and household chores took over my life.