Thursday, November 03, 2005

Secret Origin of Cap'n Neurotic pt.15 - The Grand Finale, or "Anti-Climactic. Anti-Climatic Means You're Against the Weather"

Well, here we are, the end of the road; what a long strange trip it's been, eh, my blog monkeys? I hope it's been an interesting and enlightening to you as it has been to me; I definitely have a better perspective on why things went they way they did, now. Regrets? I've had a few; but then again, too few to mention . . . well, except, y'know, for all the many, many regrets that I have mentioned; okay, maybe those lyrics weren't that appropriate after all.

Anyway, on to the mildly interesting conclusion!

In late 2003 I got a message from Wrath teh Berzerkr, inviting me down to Plano over Labor Day Weekend for the first annual live PFL draft, held at his house; the majority of the PFL was going to be there, including Flunky, whom I hadn't seen or talked to since well before 9-11, and who had been stationed overseas for a bit. So, I got to crash the PFL draft and see several people I hadn't seen for ages, including Special K. Clan Flunky was staying at the Berzerkr's house, so after everyone else had ventured off, I stayed and visited for a while. It was cool, because we picked up right were we left off when we were still rooming together; there was none of that awkwardness that marked the first few meetings with any of the other Parkerites after that span of time; truth be told, I had been a bit nervous going in.

The other cool thing about that weekend was that it marks the first time in a very long time that G'ovich and I were able to carry on a conversation that lasted more than two sentences apiece. What triggered this sudden thawing? Haven't the foggiest. Maybe I had finally reached the point of feeling comfortable enough with myself to let go off all of the weird psychological baggage that made me double- and triple-check everything I said in fear of screwing things up; I do remember feeling much more comfortable around the extended group of The Eskimo and The Squatch than I ever had before, and maybe he sensed that. Or, maybe I had blown all of the previous awkwardness way out of proportion in my mind, and now that I wasn't looking for trouble, there was none to be found. Not saying we were suddenly best buds again; but that weekend did go a long way to making me rethink the whole depressing "we'll never really be friends again" idea which had lodged itself in my head over the previous 4 or 5 years.

By the time of the next draft, they had decided to do it as an auction, and I was asked if I would like to be the auctioneer. On the one hand, I really wanted to say yes; as much as I had enjoyed my time at the previous draft, I had still felt slightly awkward being the only non-participant who wasn't a spouse or child of one of the participants. On the other hand, I was a bit nervous to be sitting center stage in that group, trying to keep things running smoothly while dealing with the info of NFL players with whom I was not overly familiar. But the gripping hand was that I was happy that I had been considered for it (even knowing that there probably wasn't anyone else they could ask), and knew that if I turned it down and still showed up, there would have been some weirdness in the air, even if it was of my own invention; yes, 3/4 of maintaining my new nearly-stable personality is recognizing what will definitely cause me to lose my grip on reality, and then avoiding it; being able to regain my grip more quickly when it does happen and having a sense of humor about myself is the other 1/4.

So, I said yes and had a good time overall; yes, I did get a little frustrated at times, and there was some snapping at folks towards the end, but when all was said and done, I was glad I'd participated. I got many compliments on how well I'd done; of course, 99% of them all come from an inebriated Eskimo, who was feeling very effusive; one of my favorite memories of the night was him turning to me during one of the breaks and saying "You know what? I just realized I know nothing about you; where are you from, anyway?" Now, by this point in time, my irrational dislike for The Eskimo had gone the way of the dodo; at the same time, I never felt 100% comfortable around him either; the stigma of everyone knowing of that irrational feeling was a bit hard to get past. But with that question asked, that acknowledgement that we had been around each other for 8 or 9 years and yet really knew next to nothing about each other, I was finally able to just say to myself "dude, that was years ago, let it go!" And thus was I one step closer to being at peace with my place in the Parkerite scheme of things.

It was after that draft auction that we tried to organize some regular Poker nights; where years before I might have been thankful for an excuse to get out of going and thus avoid my Outsider-born awkwardness, now I was getting bummed when I wasn't able to attend for one reason or another. By the time we had our next major Parkerite gathering for the Eskimo Clan baby shower, I had finally demolished pretty much all of the barriers I’d put up; it was like old times, with Flunky, G’ovich and I staying up late playing video games at which I stunk and they rocked, only without the whole “depression over sucking” thing hovering over my head. With all of these successes behind me, I was able to go into the gathering this last Labor Day without a worry in the world; not only was I willing to go out and shoot baskets with Zinger and G’ovich, but I didn’t let the fact that I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn bum me out. That, my blog monkeys, is what we in the business like to call “progress.”

You may be wondering why, if everything was so hunky-dory, did I feel the need to dredge up all of this junk? I’ve been wondering that myself, since at times it seems like doing so has made people think that my progress has started to regress. I suppose I could have just left well enough alone, but I guess G’ovich’s challenge to me to make myself vulnerable on the blog struck a chord with me; once I began to consider opening up the old wounds, it was inevitable that I would do so; once I started, it was impossible to stop.

I wish I could sit here and tell you that I’m 100% stable now, that all traces of my neurotic tendencies are gone, but that would be a lie; I still have moments of paranoia, still find myself shutting down around people I don’t know very well, still read too much into every thing that goes on around me; I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stop any of that. But at the same time, I’ve learned how to push most of the paranoia aside; I’m aware of my wallflower tendencies and fight through them as best as I can; I may overanalyze most everything that’s said or done around me, but I’ve learned not to let it bog me down. Yes, I might be a little bummed if I find out I’ve been left out of some group plans, but it’s not going to trigger a bout of depression and grudge holding . . . well, not too big of one, anyway. I’m a different man, now; different than I was back in high school; different than I was in Parker; different than I was as a Book Monkey; heck, I’m even different than I was a year and a half ago.

This has been the Secret Origin of Cap’n Neurotic, but it’s not the end of his tale; the further adventures of the Neurotic One may test him in strange and unfamiliar ways. Sometimes he may stumble, sometimes he may fall; but as long as he continues to claw his way back up, and learns from the sins and errors of his past, then his saga will be a positive one.