One evening at ward prayer, as one of those annoying get-to-know-you things, everyone in the circle was supposed to go around and say their names and their biggest fear. I thought that was an interesting choice of trivia that could easily become dark and awkward if people were actually honest. A couple guys did say their biggest fear is "dying alone", which I guess is pretty normal but I don't understand it. Dying is dying, and my only preference is that it not be gratuitously slow and painful. I couldn't care less if I'm alone or surrounded by thirty thousand people at the time. I know that death is merely a portal to a better place. I can't count how many times I've nearly been struck by an idiot Utah driver while using the crosswalk, and I just stubbornly kept my pace and gave them this look that attempted to express a fraction of the magnitude of the contempt I felt for them in that moment. Once when it seemed that she wasn't going to slow down at all, I thought, "I can't believe I'm about to die because this person is a #@$% moron."
Anyway, I thought about some of the prospects I consider most terrifying - being raped, falling out of the sky, spending thirty years in prison for something I didn't do, getting a brain injury and becoming a vegetable, remaining invisible as I toil away in obscurity with no measurable impact on the world for my entire life, and so on. But aside from the last one, these things aren't likely enough to merit worrying about very often, so I said that my biggest fear is women. And of course everyone assumed I was speaking hyperbolically, and laughed.
"I think that's pretty normal," the woman next to me said.
I think if that were pretty normal, there wouldn't be seven billion people in the world, I thought back.
The guy on the other side of her and her friend had no such fear, as a few minutes later I overheard him saying, "You're from such-and-such town, right? I saw that on Facebook. Did you accept my request yet? You didn't, did you?" And she and her friend were both like, "Oh, we almost never get on Facebook, or any social media at all." (I calculate a 99% probability this was a lie.) And he was like, "Then why do you have them?" and they were like, "Just in case we feel like it" and he was like "Oh."
He's one of those weird guys who doesn't realize he's weird, as opposed to a weird guy like me who is well aware of it. Sometimes I don't know whether to pity or envy them. He always hits on the ladies and they never enjoy it. While he is a good guy and I don't look down on him or take pleasure in his misfortune when I happen to be nearby, it is therapeutic in a sick kind of way as it demolishes the optimistic lie people tell me about how you just need to be confident and you'll be attractive and successful. He's confident and the only thing it does is make him oblivious to the discomfort he causes his female quarries. I don't understand why he keeps trying. Doesn't he catch on that his methods aren't working? Maybe, like me, he's unable to learn more effective ones, but what I did to cope with that was just stop trying anything altogether and everyone is now better off. Especially me.
"Your boyfriend is really lucky, if I'm allowed to say that," he said to a woman once.
"Thank you," she said.
"Am I allowed to say that?" he pressed.
"Sure," she said.
"Do ya have one?" he pressed.
At this point I had to restrain myself from interjecting, "Oh for the love of..."
There's this other weird guy who got up and bore his testimony in church a few months ago. He rejoiced in the opportunity to "spend five minutes talking about Christ" and then went on to talk about anything else. It was random and disjointed and went into too much detail about some things and tried too hard to be funny. And I didn't envy the bishop, who I knew must be wondering what to do. You don't want to embarrass the guy, of course, but at some point if a line is crossed you might need to intervene and make him stop, yeah? Well, after a (for me anyway) very tense five plus minutes he finished up and sat down and that was that.
The next month he got up to do it again. All around me, people gave each other knowing glances and smiles. I tensed again, but then decided to relax because that wouldn't help anything. And he bore a beautiful, eloquent testimony that flowed naturally but seemed too good not to come from a script. I was blown away. And he prayed at ward prayer, and his prayer was the same way. I don't even care if he was showing off. I was pleased and impressed and thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't know if someone talked to him about it or what, but it just goes to show you can never judge what sort of potential people have in them.
The other thing, though, is that he has this habit of sometimes sharing personal "doctrines" about stuff like the nature of godhood and the location of Kolob. I had the privilege of listening in as he expounded some of them to the local sister missionaries. And one of them started talking to someone else instead after a while, but the other remained transfixed, her eyes wide, only glancing away on occasion and exchanging smiles with me as if to say "Now isn't this interesting stuff?" She didn't have much to contribute to the discussion, but when he had spoken his piece, she said, "Do you share these... ideas with people very often?"
"Nah," he said, "just when I feel prompted to, like when I can see in someone's eyes that they're going to perdition. There's a lot of people in this ward who are going to perdition, but I've got the light that can bring them through it.
Wha? Perdition's not even a place.
"I see," she said. I felt bad for her and wondered, as with the bishop, what kind of dilemma she was having about how to handled it. Tell the mission president, or the stake president, or just ignore it? I don't think they cover that kind of situation in the MTC. In the weeks since then she seemed fine though. And this guy, aside from the discomfort that he causes sometimes through this and other means, is really nice and offers me a ride whenever he gets a chance, even if I'm only going a block away. Of course I decline in that case. It had better be fifty degrees below zero or raining brimstone before I'm going to take that distance in a vehicle.
I wonder sometimes how I would come across if I were more extroverted and didn't know or care about my weirdness. I shudder to think of it.