“Society today is so obsessed with image. We have turned into these things, these judgmental beings who would prefer having other people admire us as opposed to feeling able to truly admire ourselves. We’re all about the exterior. All of this value is placed on the surface of things, based on perception only. We shun those who are different, according to our own prejudiced beliefs. The concept of true, unlimited Acceptance and Love-which is what every single human being deserves, no matter what their religion, race or sexuality-has been lost. Completely and utterly lost, buried beneath centuries of bigotry and greed and hatred and selfish lies. We have lost touch with our basic humanity, and in doing so have lost touch with who we are, with what we were meant to be. We are broken and we are jaded.
We need to fix ourselves.”
You know that myth about smart people? The one that says they lack social skills? It’s not a myth.
Well, not in my case anyway.
I have what you’d call ‘booksmarts’. Give me a thousand-page text and I’ll have it memorized in a week. Hand me a sheet of paper and I’ll write a brilliant essay on any topic you throw at me. But put me in a room full of people and tell me to socialize, and I guarantee you that they’ll all hate me within ten minutes.
The I.Q. tests say I’m borderline genius. That’s just great and all, don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. But my cerebral capabilities seem, to me, to be God’s way of making up for not giving me any conversational prowess.
It’s not that I try to be a bitch. I’m really not a mean person. But I just don’t have the mental filter that most people have-the one between the brain and the mouth, labeled ‘tact’.
In fact, my verbal retardation is so profound that I feel I should be allowed to park in the disabled spots.
I always say exactly what I think, at the precise moment that I think it. I never mean for it to be offensive. But you’d be surprised at how badly people react to a simple observation like “That dress makes you look fat.” Personally, I think honesty is a virtue. I’d rather people tell me the truth about something than have them lie to me. But I’ve learned the hard way that not everybody shares my opinion.
Through the years, I’ve gotten used to carefully considering my thoughts before I voice them. But it’s hard, constantly having to keep your guard up. And one slip is all it takes.
I’ve had more than one slip. In fact, I’ve had so many slips that all my efforts to be nice have gone largely unnoticed and unappreciated.
Ever since I pinpointed my problem, and recognized my inability to fix it, I’ve been toeing the line, waiting for the other shoe to drop. At home, my candid ways caused many disagreements between myself and my mother. At school, my uncensored words afforded me few friends and many enemies. My teachers mistook almost everything I said for temerity and a bad attitude, and I visited the principal’s office at least once a week. But nothing major ever came of it: my mother and I didn’t chat enough for her to be seriously disturbed, and the school wasn’t about to expel the student with the highest test scores in the state. But I always knew that, someday, my mouth would get me into some serious trouble, and I wouldn’t be able to fix it.
The fateful day arrived, as they usually do, at the worst possible time. About five weeks before I was due to start my senior year, in fact.
I won’t bore you with the sordid details. Let’s just say that it involved me calmly stating the facts as I saw them, and my mother doing a whole lot of crying and shouting. I’d only told her the truth: she wasn’t a very good mother. In fact, she was terrible. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love her, as I tried to explain, but she was beyond reason at that point.
“If you hate it here so much,” she’d screeched wildly through her mascara-stained tear tracks, yanking out her cellphone and sloshing the wine from her glass, “then you can damn well leave!”