Tuesday, October 31, 2006

more than any ghoul could ever dare try

Tonight, co-worker GBF, knowing I am an utter grinch about Halloween, suggested we go see The Bridge, which should be fairly disturbing. It's not necessarily scary, but a documentary about suicides is definitely spooky.

I cannot figure out if my sympathetic and parasympathetic systems are pulling Freaky Fridays on me, or if my sympathetic system just chooses poorly. As most of you know, the parasympathetic nervous system encourages your body's rest and digest function. And I'm sure you also know that the sympathetic nervous system triggers the fight or flight response.

Conflict or strife seems to encourage my parasympathetic side. I grow weary, I want to sleep. Meltdowns are met with calm. Temper tantrums do not raise my heart rate. I'm all about diffusing a bomb.

But put me in front of a perfectly well-adjusted person who is sincere and kind, and my first instinct is to run as quickly as my legs can carry me. I cannot figure it out. Technically, it is just a case of bad decisions. The sympathetic response pumps the adrenaline and whatnot, but it gives you a choice: fight or flee. I have to learn to take a breath and clench a fist, instead of preparing for wind sprints.

It seems right to discuss this on Halloween, because to some extent, fear must be pushing me towards flight. On Friday, co-worker GBF orchestrated a situation that wound up somewhere completely off the reservation. He suggested meeting up for drinks. I was asked as GBF's sidekick; we were to be chaperones for a set-up. For the record, this GBF's set-up skills are really suspect.

Nothing seemed to happen according to plan on Friday night. GBF was running late, so he dispatched me to the bar, so as not to leave JI & SC without nary a wing-man or woman to quell awkwardness. Half way to the bar, I realized that I forgot my ID, as I had spent the morning switching licenses. Even though I am not delusional enough to think that any bartender would doubt my legal right to drink, I worried that there might be a bouncer at the door. So I trudged back to get my ID.

When I finally arrived at the bar, I was late, out of breath from both rushing and climbing hills, and sweating. I had never met SC before, and as I explained to JI that I'd forgotten my ID, SC interjected, "there's always hope that you might be carded."

I narrowed my eyes at him in confusion. Was he being funny or did he just insult me? Then I remembered that I was playing chaperone, and accordingly made some self-deprecating remark about being grateful when bartenders do card me (although, in fairness, that is true, I really do practically hug bartenders when they ask me for ID). Situation neutralized.

Co-worker GBF finally showed up, and a rhythm seemed to be establishing. The weirdness was starting to dissipate, since GBF was the thread connecting all of us. But a few nervous glances at his cellphone later, GBF announced that he had a date. I gave him the glare of death, the dude, you are not just leaving me here to be a third motherf*cking wheel, b*tch. He pretended not to notice and vaporized a moment later.

I dangled my empty glass in my hand for a few minutes, kind of teetering indecisively as to what to do next. SC asked if I wanted another drink. I turned him down. JI, SC and I all regarded each other tentatively for a moment. I thought this would probably be the right moment for us to all head our separate ways, especially because JI was not showing a whole lot of warmth for her potential future husband (joking, joking).

Instead, SC suggested we get something to eat. Here's the thing. This SC fellow is a good guy. He is gainfully employed, he is smart, and there is something just generally nice about the dude. When I got the sense that JI was going to give him the cold shoulder, I started to think of other friends who might be interested in him. I'm sure my mother would be so proud of the GBF's ability to imbue me with matchmaker tendencies.

None of this is scary. Like I said, SC is responsible, smart, nice- not a hint of a$$hole about him, clearly not a threat of any kind. Except that yesterday, GBF called me for an emergency lunch conference. At lunch, he notified me of an overturning of the laws of physics. JI told GBF to give SC her number. SC politely declined, and this is where GBF might have hallucinated: SC, allegedly, said he was interested in me, and inquired after my "story." Allegedly.

During lunch, I gaped at GBF, salad inappropriately hanging out of my mouth. But, as soon as he asked how he should handle this turn of events, restless leg syndrome kicked up in full force. At that moment, I feel certain I could have run a 5K without stopping. Even a day later, the thought of this whole high school drama playing out into some potential dating situation makes me want to join witness protection, never to be heard from again. I wanted to tell my co-worker GBF to tell SC my story. My real story. I would think that would be enough to stamp the fright with a big, red return to sender.

But I am contributing to the juvenile nature of all of this by having such a ludicrous reaction. The last time I checked, I am not 16. In fact, I think I might have handled this situation better when I was 16. Yesterday, I spent a good chunk of the afternoon rationalizing it all away to RR- most of my theories revolved around pheromones that are emitted when you have one foot out the door. RR pointed out that my jibber-jabber was bordering on idiotic. He is right, and yet, remember, the fight or flight response is an involuntary one. At some point, I am going to have to get this wiring fixed.

In the mean time, you can find me fetal under my desk. Or bolting down the nearest alley.

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