We could be twins. Yes. Amy’s hilarious. I’m sporadically funny. Amy is young and blonde and a tad chunky. I’m old, dyed-brown-over-gray, and morbidly obese. Amy is wildly successful, talented, and rich. I was as successful as I wanted to be, have some skills, and can afford now to retire, albeit modestly.
And we’re both unlikely introverts.
Just. The. Same.
I’m on this little fantasy rant because I’m finally reading Amy’s book, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. My buddy Ginny is enjoying the audio version of this so much, she keeps calling me from her car laughing maniacally while quoting something Amy said (Amy comically narrates the book on tape, by the way). So, when the library let me know that the eBook was available to download, I jumped at it. When I finished reading an early chapter with Amy explaining how she’s an introvert, it stopped me dead in my tracks.
Twins, I’m telling you.
How have I never heard of the Irish Goodbye? Do you know what that is? I have no idea what makes it “Irish,” but apparently, it’s the ability to slip out of a party like a ninja without telling anyone you’re going – most likely because you’ve abruptly had enough of a lovely time with people and music and noise and sensory overload and you just need to get OUT. Later friends say, “Hey. When did you leave? Missed you during the Twister tournament!” I’ll probably respond with, “Yeah, I looked for you everywhere, but . . . .”
It’s not that I don’t love my friends, or people in general, for that matter. But I probably conjure up a last minute excuse not to go to more than half of the parties and functions I’ve planned to attend. And when I do turn up, I’m often the first to leave (and I prefer the Irish Goodbye if it’s a large event where I can get away with it). Suddenly, it’s like my sociability bag is full to the brim and I can’t participate in one more conversation.
And like my twin Amy, I was a kid who enjoyed playing with my friends, but who also cherished time alone in my room reading a book. I needed that solitary time after interacting with friends and family and schoolmates, even when I was very young.
This book brought back memories of elementary school recesses that I’d kind of dismissed over the years, but now I suddenly understand my behavior. I remember standing by myself over a heating vent, under the fire escape, on many winter days. For years I’ve wondered what kind of oddball thing that was for me to do. I wondered if I’d been ostracized and forgot why. I couldn’t remember any negative interactions leading to my lonely position. I realize now that it was a choice. It was a quiet retreat for a little girl who’d spent all day relating with my family at breakfast, then with the teacher and other kids in the classroom and cafeteria. Man, I just freaking needed a BREAK. I would have stayed inside by myself to regroup and read a book, but that wasn’t allowed. Getting fresh air, except on the rainiest days, was the rule. As an adult, I can’t say I blame the teachers, either. The poor things desperately needed a break themselves.
During recess I also recall an extremely limited choice of entertainment, particularly in the winter. It might be twenty degrees outside and we’d be bundled up like miniature Michelin Tire guys, but the girls (boys did not do this) often amused themselves performing a variation of Skin the Cat, where they’d hook one leg over a metal bar, push off hard with the other foot, and fly over, under, and back up to starting position, skimming the ground with the pom-pom crowning their knitted hats.
Back then, girls were not allowed to wear slacks to school (and jeans were not allowed for boys). Skinning the Cat in winter was one thing, since we all went shivering outside at recess wearing snow pants or maybe corduroy slacks under our skirts. In nice weather, sans slacks, girls whipping around the bar flashed their underpants if they didn’t tuck their dresses or petticoats in just right before taking off. But enough about Skinning the Cat. As I said, I wasn’t a fan, not only because I was vaguely afraid of bonking my head in the dirt or possibly not pushing off hard enough and ending up stuck, hanging upside down, but also because I didn’t want to flash my underpants (or chubbo legs) and maybe, just maybe, because I needed a little alone time under the fire escape.
So, here’s the thing about introverts. Like my sister Amy, you can be an introvert, yet get on a stage in front of hundreds of people and make them laugh about intimate details of your life told in a hilarious (and hopefully comedically exaggerated) fashion. When you’re up for it, you can talk and laugh and have a ball with your friends – and even strangers – as long as you know you can leave when your reserves are depleted.
I’m completely content living alone with my dogs and I’m never, ever lonely. Never. That may seem foreign and odd to the People Who Love People (are you really the luckiest people in the world?). But it’s a tough week for me when I have activities of some sort lined up for every day. Today I have an appointment with my physical therapist for the neck pain I’m dealing with (caused by too much time at the computer or hunched over my iPad reading a book). After that I will go to the drive through at the bank to get some cash, and then I should stop at Pet Smart to pick up dog food. This is as much activity out in the world as I could wish for in one day.
Lunch is a good amount of time to be spent socializing. If I’m meeting you for lunch, I probably love you and can’t wait to spend time with you . . . but I’m also relieved to go home afterward (especially if I have a doggie bag and won’t have to make dinner that night). I don’t love you less because I have to go home and be quiet after we yakked and laughed our way through the meal. That’s just me being me.
And Amy Schumer does this! Amy Schumer is amazing and hilarious and successful. We love her, right?
And thanks to this chapter in her very funny book, I kind of love myself a little bit more, too.
Thanks, Amy. If you’re reading this (ha!), please know that I love you and I promise never to approach you if I see you in public.