My name is Kirk Jones, and I’m socially awkward.
I’ve never really understood how to interact with people. Over the years I’ve come up with my own rules, personal guidelines to social etiquette that completely shut me down in almost every circumstance. Whenever I’m about to open my mouth, I remember these rules. I know I should ignore them. But experience still reinforces their relevance for me. Today I just want to talk about one of these rules, and that is that most folks are oblivious to apathy, even if apathy is dagger-like and shooting straight out of your eyes down their throats.
Except Mormons who go door to door. They’re alright.
Rule #1: People don’t give a shit if you give a shit about what they’re talking about.
I remember going to my friend’s birthday party about five years ago. His ex girlfriend’s father sat beside me at the main table. He was decked out in Dale Earnhardt gear, chiding someone else at the table for their love of Jeff Gordon. I stared at my steak, hoping it would keep me out of the conversation.
“You like Jeff Gordon?” He asks me.
“Not really into NASCAR,” I say.
I assumed that’d be it. Do you like it? No, sir I don’t like it. The end. Except it wasn’t the end. For some reason, he took my response to mean I didn’t UNDERSTAND NASCAR. For the next half hour, this guy used my steak as a race track, looping around the edge with his finger to show me where the pit crew waited. “See that piece of fat right there. Pit crew’d be right there. They fix stuff.”
That’s fucking nice. Can I eat now?
No I can’t. Because Dale here ain’t done showing me, in excruciating detail, exactly why the Indy 500 is called the Indy 500. Surprisingly, there are only 200 laps. Even more shocking: the 500 has nothing to do with how many brain cells die each time you watch a NASCAR event. The 500 comes from 500 miles. Now, with this precious knowledge in hand, would I be more interested in watching a bunch of fucking cars drive in circles for hours and hours and hours? Fuck no. I don’t give a shit about cars, nor do I give a shit about circles or ovals or stars . . . or any other shape that cars would care to navigate.
After 130 laps, Jim noticed a pattern: the cars were moving in circles!
There is only one car story I have thoroughly enjoyed in my life. One of my relatives was caught on the interstate with the runs and had to clear out her purse and shit in it. That is interesting, and that kind of story you can tell me any time. If someone takes a dump in an awkward place or pisses their pants in public, I’m all ears. If you have a story about someone who likes to take dumps in awkward places and piss in public, you will have my attention for life.
With my NASCAR experience in mind, I’m still confused as to why my mother used to hide on the Mormons who came to our house to talk about God. Because when you tell them you don’t give a shit about what they want to tell you, they’re generally pretty cool about it.
Just last summer I had a couple visit my house. I opened the door and poked my head out, and my stomach, covered with dried BBQ sauce from the previous night, followed. “Hey?”
“Would you be interested in some literature about the Lord?” they asked.
There was no question. I needed something for the toilet later. “Sure.”
“Could we come in for a while to speak with you?”
“Naw. I’ll take the free literature though. Those Awake mags are good fun.”
Reluctantly, they handed over the magazine and I bid them farewell. Free reading material. Minimal conversation. No finger dancing around my steak to chart a path to heaven.
Maybe they would have stayed longer or been more aggressive about sticking around if I would have had a pair of underwear on or something. I like to believe they’re just polite people.