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I've never been comfortable in a social situation, even when all my family members come together for reunions. As long as I can remember the anxiety I encounter has always left me bereft of true communication in groups. I tried to compensate for this feeling when I was young by showing off a great deal and going into the entertainment field.
Still, I've always preferred to sift back into the shadows and observe human nature. I make judgments about people that I shouldn't, of course. After all, who am I to judge? I do it anyway. I admire people who have no idea that they are being admired and I keep a shell around myself even when I'm pretending to be engaged in deep and meaningful personal conversation.
I remember one day a few years ago when a drunken street woman came into a shop where I rented space, wanting to sell a lamp she had left outside the door. It was pouring rain, but the girl who was working with me told her to go and get it and we would see. It turned out to be a stunning piece, almost as big as the poor woman who struggled to carry it in. A spectacular table lamp, it had the original shade and a base of wonderfully created Viennese glass. It became the other girl's prized possession for fifteen dollars.
I knew it was good, but I'd learned it's much easier to sell lamps in pairs than as singles, so I was happy for my friend and I was happy for the drunken woman, who would now have more money to pay for her habit.
Undaunted by the pouring rain, the woman returned about an hour later with another new floor lamp which I wouldn't have given a plug nickel for and a plastic bag with condiments, ketchup and a couple of other items that had never been opened. She wanted another ten for these items. I finally caved in to her desperation and handed her five for the lamp and told her to take her food items back home.
"Ridiculous," she commented as she grabbed the five from my hand and stomped out leaving a trail of alcohol vapor behind her. I left the lamp for the store proprietress to sell. It went from one addict to another. I sat back and watched all that unfolded in that little shop on Jay Street that summer. Still, I was never really there.
I hide in the shadows and lurk in corners, watching and observing. I'm an outsider in my own skin.