Yes, I'm here.
Copyright Mark D. Keith 2004

"Private Keith, are you anti-social?" This was asked of me by a fellow squad member while we were all sitting around the workshop at Ft. Bragg. We were just bullshitting around in the company trailer since it was winter and too cold to be outside. Aside from the smell of coffee and cigarettes in the air, I don't remember much of the idle chatter going on. I was so startled that I felt like my very soul been jarred. "I'm not anti-social. If I was, I wouldn't be sitting in here with you guys now would I?" I reply. "Well, yeah, you got a point there," was the return. "Body language stutter," I started to think of after that point.

How many times have people misread how I was feeling? It was right after that I started looking back other strange comments I've received. Like a fellow high school marching band member telling me, "You looked bored to death." Bored? I wish! I was so nervous and worried about the try outs that my face was expressionless as my mind and stomach were too busy doing flip-flops. Could this be the reason I had so few dates in high school? Seems my face and body language never showed what I felt.

There been a couple of times right after the divorce that my ex-wife's husband would presume about how I felt. Sad really, since prior we had been room-mates and best friends. Only thing I could figure, he was seeing his own perceptions and attributing them to me. That insight didn't hit me till after about the third or four time during a doorstep conversion. I guess you could call it a conversion, more of parting shots really, when I was returning my son after a visit. Walking back to the car, I would wonder how he could think that about me. Was it because of my own body language stuttering, his misconceptions, or mix of both?

I'm not accomplished at reading body language either. Maybe that's why mine stutters. Like the time, I was dinning with a friend in Savanna. We were just chatting with the waitress. As I paid the bill, I remembered the waitress mentioning her ex-boyfriend. I turned to Paula, "Hey, she said ex-boyfriend." "Yes Mark, she was flirting with you." I didn't even catch on till we were leaving the restaurant. "Mark, you're getting better. You caught on that she mentioned ex-boyfriend. I'm proud of you." Paula told me as we walked out.

I never had this problem when I was playing in the MUSHes, Multi User Shared Hallucination. They were like today's internet chat rooms; every feeling, pose, and emotion had to be expressed. Maybe human interactions would go smoother for me, if there was some way to plainly get across, to others what I really felt, and what they felt. Electronic mail and postal mail are both a good means once I've gotten to know the person enough. Still working on being aware of peoples reactions around me too see if I am being read wrong. Only means I've found so far is asking a third observer later on what they saw.


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