Before I begin, I’d just like to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Narrator and I’ll be narrating this ever so unfortunate story. I’ve recently been informed that you will not be able to hear my voice when I talk, so I’ll describe it for you. Imagine Owl from Winnie the Pooh. If you don’t remember him, just read my lines with the deepest most serious and sarcastic voice you can possibly conceive in your head. A British accent is optional. Now with all formalities out of the way, let’s embark on this tragic tale – the story of a social klutz.
It was a dark and gloomy Saturday morning. Rain was crashing onto the Earth, cleansing it of the despair in the air. The mood was grey, with a slight pinch of washed out green for each occasional tree in the city’s now abandoned roads. Our protagonist – nickname “Pro” because I can’t think of a name and won’t type “Protagonist” everytime I want to mention him – is a boy about to emerge from a long restful slumber. He dreams and dreams all he likes, but awakens oblivious of all that’s occurred. The sound of pattering rain comforts him, as he gets up and sets the curtains aside. The room is still as dark as it was with the curtains closed, not a single sliver of light leaking through the murky clouds. It was at that moment that Pro realized, this day couldn’t get any better.
Pro proceeded to freshen up and get ready for the day that awaited him. He was more prepared than ever to be as productive as he’d ever been his entire life, but the sheer thought of meeting other people – it sent a shiver down his spine. After completing his morning routine of working out, showering and making some breakfast, Pro was ready to get some work done. His brain was alert, observing his surroundings like a detective at a crime scene, leaving no detail out of consideration. The voice in his head was loud and prominent, he considered it a separate entity – a friend even; it was the voice he’d grown most familiar with. After some arguing with it, he decided that today was the perfect opportunity to go to a coffee shop and write. He’d figured that because of the downpour, it would be calm and empty, but little did he know, it was still a coffee shop. Pro got dressed, packed his bag and left – the adventure was about to begin, and he would soon face the first monster of the day.
The light was a bright crimson, blinking rhythmically, as though imitating the eyes of a demon. Pro took a step forward, compelled no longer by his slowly dying patience to maintain his resolve. He knew it was coming. He knew it was closer than ever. And alas, it finally arrived with a chilling melody, “ding ding.” The elevator was here. Pro prayed to his soul that he would not be greeted by the misfortune of another human being inside, but he could already see a faint silhouette through the long glass pane. The contact between his shaking hands and the cold metal handle on the elevator door seemed to last much longer in Pro’s head than it did in real life. “But what is real anyway?” he thought to himself as he predicted my narration and proceeded to open the door. It was a sight of anguish. She stood there in the corner, staring at her phone, giving only a quick unintentional glance at the fellow human she didn’t bother to greet. Ugh – neighbors.
Being the type of person he was – you know – a protagonist, Pro decided to initiate the greeting himself. It was a daunting task,yes, but a kind gesture nonetheless – one that would cost him far more than he could’ve possibly anticipated. “H-hi”, he muttered in a quieting voice. No response. “Hello?”, he asked, thinking she hadn’t heard him the first time, but yet again, no response. She took her sweet time putting her phone away, then turned her head towards him, giving an exaggerated smile. “Hi,” she replied in a cold metallic tone, “how’s college?”
“Oh, um, I’m still in school.”
“Still in school, huh? And how’s that going?”
“It’s okay, t-thanks.”
“That’s good to hear.”
And then, that feeling. Pro felt his insides fall to the bottom of his stomach, as though gravity had suddenly multiplied. Turned out, however, that he was simply moving up. He watched the number above his head increase, “12, 13, 14..” He didn’t like this. He didn’t like this at all. The only place he wanted to be at the moment was the ground floor, alone, but the elevator – that demonic elevator, it seemed to disagree. There was but one word to describe the tension between him and his newfound acquaintance; awkward. Nothing wrong had been said, but nothing was being said at all. She pulled out her phone once more, pretending to scroll through Instagram even though they both knew there was no cell service in that godforsaken box of metal. Pro, on the other hand, continued to stare at the numbers; he observed as they grew and then fell, allowing that tiny LED screen to be the savior of his first encounter. “Ding ding.” Ground floor.
As difficult as it was to fast walk and not look like he was constipated, Pro was able to pull it off simply by acting on his animal instincts – in this case, to avoid humans. He was avoiding that specific elevator human yes, but the rest weren’t that much better either. He was now at the road, ready to head to the coffee shop a few miles away. “Too long of a walk,” he thought to himself as he ordered, with his own phone, a human being to come pick him up. Young Pro was comically unaware of the irony of his actions.
After a 5 minute wait, the car was finally in sight. “Good morning,” Pro tried, hoping a single reply would be all he’d get.
“Good morning to you too, my boy. Weather sure is cold these days.”
“Yeah..” He gave a polite chuckle and pulled his headphones out of his bag. The driver didn’t get the signal.
“You know, I hear these headphone things make kids go deaf. Not that this generation isn’t deaf already.”
“Yeah.. that’s true” He gave another polite chuckle, this time almost placing his headphones at his ears, but the driver once more, did not get the signal.
“Is saying ‘yeah’ all you do? Liven up, kid. You know, when I was your age…”
His eyes were blank. His lips had dried and his fingertips grew frosty. All life had escaped what was now the empty shell of a human being. Pro had survived – just barely – and he’d finally arrived at his destination, neck stiff, head drooping. Never again would he nod this much in 15 minutes. He dragged his legs across the pavement, surprised to have made it to the coffee shop entrance in one piece. “Finally some time alone,” he thought, unknowing of the fate that would soon befall him. One more monster. There was one more monster he was yet to face.
“Good morning, Sir, what would you like to order?”
“Oh, um, could you give me a minute to decide?”
“Why of course.”
He did not move an inch. The waiter stood there, at Pro’s table, staring into his soul. He might as well have started a timer, and held Pro at gunpoint until he made his decision. But what he did was quite the same – it was just social gunpoint.
“I said I’ll have a minute, please.”
“Yes I heard you, sir.”
“Okay w-will you give me a minute then?”
“Yes of course.”
He still stood as a statue, as though his legs were glued to the ground. Pro’s blood was starting to boil with a mixture of anger and frustration, which later combined to form a beautiful hopelessness, and finally, he gave up.
“I’ll have a Latte Frappe then”
Pro had zoned out. He was no longer capable of interacting with these humans. Having heard the waiter’s words as mumbling gibberish, and not having the courage to ask it be repeated, he resorted to his final defense mechanism – the ultimate social escape.
“Sir, I asked what flavor you’d like your frappe, why are you laughing?”
Silence. It took him a moment to comprehend his surroundings, and then came the final sentence,
“You know what, I think I won’t have anything now. I’ll actually be leaving, thanks.”
And so it begins; the great decline. Despite the lack of existing energy in his body, Pro decided to walk home, preferring the sore legs over having to deal with another driver. He went up the stairs in an effort to avoid any and all contact with problems in the elevator. And lastly, he changed back into his home clothes and flung himself onto his bed wondering why he’d even bothered. The voice in his head was so much easier to deal with and he decided that from now one, he’d rather not deal with any others. He’d spend just another day at home, alone and try again tomorrow. He would forever try again tomorrow. What Pro failed to realize, was that without changing his mindset, the outcome would remain the same – and so it would, for the rest of his life. I apologize if you expected a “Happily Ever After,” but as Narrator, I had no say in what could be done. I will leave you to him, now – our other protagonist.
My original intention when starting to write this was to portray a light funny story of how it is being a social klutz. A part of my brain always thought I was writing about myself, but at the end of this, I’ve thankfully realized that this isn’t me anymore.
Yes, I’m still awkward. Yes, I still worry a little about social interaction. And yes, being in any sort of crowd stresses me out a bit. But, I’m not Pro. I will speak up when I have to, and often times when I want to as well. I will challenge myself, not because I like being uncomfortable, but because I need to learn to communicate more easily with others. I will stop smiling and nodding all the time because life just doesn’t work that way. I will sometimes force myself to talk to other people, because despite being so terrible, humans can be incredibly interesting too. I’ve learned – been taught by other people – that meaningful human connections are the measure of a human’s happiness, and I will no longer deny myself the right to be as happy as it is physically possible. If you’re as awkward as I often am, or if you’re even as bad as Pro, get out there and start talking. Talk to everyone you get a chance to, because they’ll probably teach you much more than you could ever learn yourself. And if you’re a social butterfly, why the hell are you here in the first place?
Lastly, I’d just like to end this off by saying – the only reason this story is so unfortunate, is that our little Protagonist – the real one, that is – he isn’t a that much of a social klutz anymore.