Sunday, September 18, 2005

I love to mix in circles, cliques, and social coteries

Back when I was just a silly young monkey, I was a bit of a social outcast, largely due to what has come to be known to some as my "outsider complex." In short, 95% of the time my paranoid brain would pick apart any social situation and convince me that I wasn't really wanted, and my resultant behavior would turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy. By the time I reached college, I had fallen out of contact with every person I knew back in high school. Which is why I sometimes look at my current life and marvel at the fact that nowadays I actually have three groups of friends to split my time between . . . and I only feel like an outsider 5% of the time! Oh, how the tables have turned! Take that, younger, insecure self!

For the most part there's no overlap between the three groups. Some members of Group A are familiar with members of Group B, and vice versa, but Group C has been pretty much quarantined so far. In order to give some context to future posts which are sure to reference these groups, I'm including the following primer to the weird and wonderful world that is Todd's Friends.

Disclaimer: I shall do my best to refrain from referring to anyone by their real names, and will instead be relying on code names, both pre-existing and newly created. This is partially to preserve their anonymity, but mostly because it amuses me to refer to my friends by names like Zinger, Flunky, and Rose Hips the Enforcer.

And now, without further ado, TPWAMFOALWUUTPWTRTB!*

Group A --- "The Parkerites": This group is named for Parker Hall, my home for the first two years of college. The three OCD roomies mentioned in a previous post (who shall for the nonce be known as Flunky, Wrath, and Dr. G'ovich) are all Parkerites, although none of us roomed together until after we moved out of the dorm. While the Parkerite label could be applied to anyone from the dorm, in this context I'm mainly talking about the small group with whom I still have some semi-regular contact (thank heavens for Instant Messenger and email). This group is comprised of former Parker residents, the spouses of former Parker residents, and the friends of spouses of former Parker residents.

For a while a good portion of us lived in the general DFW vicinity, with a large number residing in Plano, but that number has dwindled quite a bit in recent months. I see one couple (Zinger and Pooh-Bear Parrothead) every month or so, and the rest of the gang at the annual Labor Day Fantasy Football draft and again at Squatchtoberfest. We're quite a grab bag of careers: primarily engineers, teachers, and computer types, with an accountant, a veterinarian/comedian, and a couple of prospective coal miners thrown in for good measure. This group is primarily responsible for helping me break out of my shell (by way of a nervous break down), which in a roundabout way has lead to this blog, so I leave it up to you, dear readers, to decide if they deserve credit . . . or blame.

I'm not sure which weirds me out more about this group: the fact that I've been friends with most of them for over a third of my life now, or the fact that most of them are now married with kids.

Number of Firefly converts in this group: 5, with one possible convert pending.

Group B --- "The Book Monkeys": I've got a wide range of nicknames for this group and its various sub-groups, but I think "Book Monkeys" suits it best. After all, it was my association with this group that led to my fascination with monkeys. The Book Monkeys are former employees of the OSU Interlibrary Services Department, and their significant others. Again, I apply this label mainly to those who still keep in contact with me.

While many of the Parkerites have migrated to Texas, most Book Monkeys are still Okies. A few of us have gotten together on occasion for trips to Six Flags. The last such grouping consisted of six of us, who The Wiz (a resident of Austin and fan of the SxSW festival) dubbed Six by Six Flags, or SxSF, which I, in turn, then appropriated for the name of one of the books for my Infinite Monkeys Press webpage. In fact, it was the Book Monkey message board created by The Wiz which spawned IMP in the first place, so I guess they should share some of the credit/blame with the Parkerites for inspiring my adventures in blogging.

Not nearly as large a percentage of "married with children" members in this group, and, sadly, I hardly get to see most of the ones who are very often. In an odd bit of synchronicity, the Book Monkey who calls himself Bubblegum Tate (the sole fellow comic book geek out of all three groups) recently found himself embroiled in the dangerous world of blogging at the behest of his wife.

Number of Firefly converts: 0, but only because 5 of them discovered the joy of Firefly on their own.

Group C --- "The Singles": The final group is my Sunday School class, which is aimed at singe adults from their 20s to mid-30s. Guess which side of the range I'm on.

This group is the most fluid of the three, partly because of the nature of the class (both as a Sunday School class in general and a class aimed at singles in particular), but also because, unlike the other two groups, I'm still actively involved in the unifying factor. I moved out of Parker in 1995, and left ILS in 2001, so those connections are pretty much fixed. But with the Singles class, there are only two people left from when I started three years ago, and I've been able to stay in touch with very few of the married or moved. The constant flux of members results in a constant flux in the social dynamic as well. It's a vastly different climate now than when I started, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Unfortunately, there's going to be another big shift in the class soon, as at least six members will be leaving thanks to two weddings and relocation.

Number of Firefly converts: only 1 (the inimitable Papa Lightbulb), but I think he's more rabid than all of the others combined, much to his wife's chagrin (I think Mama Lightbulb should just be glad that he hasn't tried to suggest they name their son after Mal, Jayne, or Wash).

So, that's my social world in a nutshell, barring a former co-worker or two here and a former high school chum there. Stay tuned for more entries in the "Everything you didn't care to know about Todd but he didn't wait for you to ask" series such as "What songs do I associate with what people?" and "Yeah, so we lived/worked/worshipped together, but what else do we have in common?"

Oh, and one more thing: only 12 more days till Serenity (the Firefly movie)!
Oh, and one more one more thing: bonus Infinite Monkey points to whoever can name the source of my post title without using the Internet or being known as The Wiz

*The People Who Are My Friends, Or At Least Were Up Until The Point When They Read This Blog