Saturday, December 4, 2010

OK Class. I'd like everyone to say their name and something interesting about themselves.

When I was in college, I was shy and nervous to an absurd level (at just the perfect age to feel that way. Thank you, Universe!), uncomfortable in my own skin and with a tendency to completely freeze up in crowds.  So despite having lots of opinions and generally knowing the material, I wasn't a very participatory student.  The idea of presenting my artwork in class would cause a mini-panic attacks, which is likely the reason that I get to hear "You should have been an artist" instead of, you know, actually being one.  Ditto for being called on in class, and doubly so for presenting a research project.    Still, I had a good avoidance strategy in place to cope with those situations, generally hiding and grunting out answers only when the words "Mr. Macharelli, do you know X?" spoiled my day .  There was, however, one scenario that used to wreak havoc with my technique.

As fate would have it (fucking fate, always sticking to me whenever possible), I seemed to regularly enroll in classes with professors who would kick off the new semester by having the students introduce themselves to the class.  At that point my life, it was pure torture.   The "something about yourself" part was terrifying.  Who the hell was I?  At 36, a wiser and and more confident me struggles with that question. The 19 year-old me had no chance.  You could have gotten me to say almost anything to avoid it.   I'd turn over my lunch money. I'd write an overlong, navel-gazing, extra-credit essay.   I'd have confessed to being on the Grassy Knoll in 1963.

Now that I think of it, it would have been awesome to have said "Hi, my name is David, and you may have seen some of my work in your 20th Cent. American Civ. class. It may seem impossible due my birth date, but I was the "Grassy Knoll" shooter.  I was trying a variation on Christopher Reeve's self-hypnosis time travel bit from Somewhere in Time for an extra credit history project in that same class, only to awaken in a room surrounded by Charlie Luciano, Fidel Castro and J. Edgar Hoover.  Somehow, they knew I was from the future and threatened to have my then-teenage parents eliminated unless I complied with their demands.  The instant that the trigger was pulled and the deed done, I reached into my pocket as Hoover had instructed to find a 1974 Kennedy half-dollar, the sight of which jarred me back to the present along with all evidence that I was there. Remarkable plan by those guys. It's nice to meet all of you. (little wave and grin)".  Alas, even adult-me could never pull that off,  so what normally happened was this...

I'd glance at the clock, dividing the number of minutes left in class by the number of people ahead of me and the average time they blathered on for in the hopes that time would expire before I had to take my turn.  At some point, it would become apparent that ten people weren't going to consume 35 minutes saying hello, not even if two or three of them were engagers like my father, and I'd curse the rotten luck of having a middle of the alphabet last name instead of something like Zimmerman. Once this realization set in, my throat and mouth  would start to dry out. Then adrenaline would course through my system, causing my hands to shake and sweat, my face to flush, and the always popular, "butterflies in the stomach".  Finally, the moment of truth would arrive.  It was my turn.

Heart pounding through my chest, I'd pop up and rasp out something like (at hyper-speed and without spaces, like The Flash rogue Prof. Zoom) "MYNAMEISDAVID-ANDIAMANARTMAJOR!" and immediately drop back into my chair.  The adrenaline crash would start as soon as my ass hit the seat, where I would slump, head in hand,  eyes darting around to check for people staring at and judging me.  Looking back, it's doubtful anyone was even paying attention and if they were, well, it's not like it was undeserved.

The stupidity of it is hilarious  to me now but funnier still is this.  People used to know the guy who behaved this way, and still wonder why I had trouble dating.


Paul Alexander August 31, 2011 at 11:33 AM  

HAHAHAHA!!! I love that last line! That's exactly what I've dealt with.

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