There are several reasons why I write this blog. The biggest, of course, is that it gives me something to do in the morning and during my lesson planning time at school. You know, those odd times when there’s nothing better to do. It’s also a lot of fun. But there’s a nice fringe benefit that comes from writing this blog too, and that has to do with setting a positive impression on people. Every now and then, somebody I barely know will come up to me and say, “Hey, I checked out your blog,” and then follow that up by starting a conversation with me. This is phenomenal! It’s as though the person likes me already, without me having to win them over in person, and I’ve thus avoided a problem that has plagued me my whole life.
The problem I’m referring to is my horrible inability to meet people and con them into forming a good early opinion of me. Typically when I first meet someone, I’m cold and quiet and incredibly awkward. It takes me awhile to warm up to people. Being myself around someone right away is impossible, as I don’t want to come off as a neurotic weirdo too soon in the relationship. I feel it’s better to let a person slowly realize that I’m a neurotic weirdo; hopefully, by the time the truth has been discovered, the person has found something endearing about me that inspires her/him to respond when I try my best to make interesting conversation on Facebook chat.
Over the past several years, I’ve been distressed to hear that a good handful of people, mostly women, have labeled me
“creepy” after first meeting me. I remember back in college I had an acquaintance named Tom, and I one night I went over to his house. At that time, I was trying to grow a beard. It wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped; the beard grew in uneven and I had thick patches of stubble on random parts of my face. Everyone agreed it was abysmal, but I decided to ride it out. Anyways, when I went over to that Tom’s guy’s house, I caught his sister looking at me.
“Hey,” I thought, “I think she’s checking me out. This is GREAT. The beard must be filling in.”
The next day a mutual friend mentioned Tom’s sister. “Hey, you really creeped her out,” the mutual friend informed me. “She said you look like a serial killer.”
I feel that this whole “creepy” thing isn’t so much my fault as it’s a natural reaction to the fact that I look like Steve Buscemi. It’s not that I’m creepy. He’s creepy. I’m just cursed with having to look like him. In the past, I’d deny the resemblance..
“I don’t look anything like him,” I’d say.
“You don’t really look like him,” more than one person has told me, “but you give off a Steve Buscemi vibe.”
What the hell is a Steve Buscemi vibe, and how can I stop giving it off? A couple Halloweens ago, my friends and I dressed as The Beatles. Around three in the morning, I got sick of wearing the wig and took it off. I went up to the bar to get a drink at club GoGos, in my black Hard Days’ Night suit, and some stranger grabbed me.
“Hey! Awesome Mr. Pink costume!”
That son of a bitch. I mean Buscemi, not the guy in the club. The dude in the club was only stating the obvious – everyone probably thought I was Mr. Pink. I couldn’t even muster the pride to say, “That’s ridiculous. I’m George Harrison.” I just said “thanks man” and got my drink, presumably creeping girls out as I did.
It’s sad, because I like Steve Buscemi. I just don’t want to be Steve Buscemi. Maybe that’s the reason I tried to grow a beard back in college. I mean, first impressions are largely based on looks, and I look like the guy who got stuffed in the wood chipper.
To get back to the point, there’s an old saying that you “never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This isn’t really true, provided that the person you want to make an impression on gives you the opportunity to do so. The great thing about our cyber society – the one filled with blogs and Facebook and Skype – is that it exponentially increases our access to people. We’re in a state of constant impression-making, non-stop presentation. All you need is a Facebook friend request and maybe a Google search, and you can open up my life and read it like a book. A first impression maybe doesn’t mean as much as it used to, not when social media has us so embedded in each others’ lives.
I used to think that improving my social skills meant I needed to be more confident and smile more. Now I think it means I need to spend more time on the computer.