January 14, 2014

Enter Mr. Extrovert. ~ Cate Hogan

The first thing I noticed about my partner was his beaming smile, easy in its own outrageousness.

At first I was dubious, but after weeks of acting like it was totally insane for us to not be together, I started to believe him. The rest as they say, is history.

Extroverts can be annoyingly magnetic, and by extrovert I don’t mean the loud mouth in a Hawaiian t-shirt who talks at your face with dead cat breath. A lack of self awareness is a turn off, a healthy disregard for it…intoxicating.

My extrovert hums through life with an endless, hypnotic vibration of words and gestures. I use that energy to warm the dark, lonely cave that is my life. The problem arises when that heat draws every damn creature from the forest and suddenly my cave becomes a zoo.

I guess it’s just one of life’s strange little jokes. The very thing that attracts you to someone is often the same trait that drives you to despair.

Enter the universe of Mr. Extrovert, because your world is his world now.

Going to the grocery store isn’t an errand, it’s a product launch. Dinner for two becomes dinner and a show; waiters and drivers, pimps and peddlers: all long lost friends you haven’t met yet. One day you wake up to find that you’ve been burgled. Downstairs your honey bun sits with the thug, sharing a cup of tea and comparing brands of ski mask.

Step into a shopping mall, or an airport, and your lover lights up, walks fast, alert, engaged and plugged in to society’s power socket. If you prefer to melt into the shadows, it’s highly disconcerting. A part of you will want to say: Keep your head down, Fool; drawing attention is the fastest way to get your throat cut. That’s just your crazy coming out. Get used to it; loving an extrovert is a lesson in terror.

Friday nights are a battle zone. You stagger through the door, bury yourself in a novel and try to forget the 50 hour week that is now a luxurious 48 hours away. But your lover needs people, lots of loud, obnoxious ones. You try to convince him that endless friends are to be found between the covers of a good book. He looks at you like you’ve announced you’re moving to Mongolia.

You do have real friends too.

Your network is a cherished bonsai, destined to remain stunted by constant clipping and a restricted nutrient base, but those mates you see at long intervals for brief, intense interactions? Forget them. His clan spans generations and countries and thrives on continual contact and a web of mutual connections. Larger gatherings don’t invite topics like Uncle Pete’s assault charge or your crippling fear of death, so conversations are lighter and more boisterous. You will learn to skim through them, a pebble bouncing across the surface of human experience, too fast to stop and sink to any depth.

Of course, it’s hard to hold even the lightest conversation when you notice that the crazy guy straddling grandma is your other half. People will glance at you in pity or envy, depending on whether grandma is smiling or screaming, or worse, spurring him on.

After each party you suffer his cheerful banter about interesting people who sound as boring as mud, and, somewhere between complaining about loud music and expensive taxis, you’re tricked into hosting something at home. It becomes a carefully executed production: the menu on draft five, the cast of guests auditioned ruthlessly, you leaning on your dresser sick with nerves as you wait for the doors to open.

It doesn’t need to be so stressful; he’d prefer a simple sign on the gate reading Free Food. At some point he will probably resort to that. To the extroverted inventor of street parties: you have a great deal to answer for, Sir.

Worse than socializing is when you lock him in your cave and all is well… then he starts to wither. He is all the sustenance you need, but you are sadly inadequate, a vampire feasting on their lover. Magic and lust are not enough; at some point they need to leave the coffin and find a bowl of cereal.

Still, it is magic in a world where that stuff can be hard to find.

If introverts draw the lines, extroverts fill them with color. They envision the Eiffel Tower and 125 years later they’re running around it posing for stupid photos. They drive you to the edge of insanity, jealousy and exhaustion, but their need to chase the sun might mean you catch a sunrise or two before you meet the quiet that awaits all of us, for all of time.

Begrudgingly, you will discover people you like and make new friends of the cherished, bonsai variety. You never would have known them otherwise and they challenge you to grow, make you question things you thought were irrefutable.

Once the terror of that idea has lessened, try to embrace it.

As C. JoyBell says, “Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”

Love elephant and want to go steady?

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Assistant Editor: Tifany Lee/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Bond Studio/Wiki Commons

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Cate Hogan