Thursday, 8 January 2009

The Long Road From Silent Hill

It's common knowledge that I'm a rather peculiar individual – although more in the quirky sense (characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits) than the downright weird sense (although some of you may beg to differ). For example I'm notorious for taking holidays by myself; which strikes many people as a somewhat odd thing to do. But I enjoy my own company and like to do things at my own pace once in a while. It's probably why I'm so happy doing the job that I do – working from home, designing websites, writing, photography – they all require extended periods of solitude. I do my best work when I'm alone. Although with my writing I'm always more inspired when I'm around other people beforehand.

One of the main things you'll notice about me is that I don't talk much. In fact my lack of verbal communication has earned me the nicknames Silent Hill, Snake Eyes (the mute from the Action Force comics) and Quiet Dave (the chap who thought up this one was obviously attending a call of nature when inspiration was given out).

My social aloofness could be mistaken for sheer ruddy rudeness on my part. But the genuine truth is that half the time I just don't know what to say to people. Small talk infuriates me, but then so do people who try to over compensate my quietness by hogging the conversation and not letting me get a word in. Time and time again I've been in a three-way conversation when suddenly it happens – I become invisible. All eye contact is lost, my opinion isn't requested and I become the silent observer. Watching. Thinking… walking off, unnoticed…

There are people who no longer even approach me in social circles as they just expect any kind of conversation to quickly evaporate, and they'd be left in an awkward social situation with no means of escape. Of course this is complete balderdash. Given the opportunity, there are times when I can hold something resembling a conversation. I'm far better at one-on-one conversations than groups. If I'm placed in a group of people the chances are that I could vanish in a puff of smoke mid-way through and no one would batter an eyelid. But take me for a Mocha, a Latte or a pint and you could be in for a surprise…

I recall a college coach trip back in 1992. I can't recall the destination or even what we did when we got there – only the first few moments before boarding the coach. I was with two other students, a girl and a boy, one of whom I'd most likely be seated next to on the journey. Let's call these individuals… Rupert and Sally (in order to protect their identities and protect me from reprisals). Rupert suddenly became agitated and said that he'd left his wallet in the classroom, so he dashed off to fetch it. Sally suddenly looked at me, went pale and ran off after him... leaving me to board the coach alone. So I sat down on the coach and waited for them to join me. Needless to say that upon their return they both opted to sit next to each other, leaving me to sit alone.

I knew at the time that Sally had only fled the scene because she was quite frankly terrified at the prospect of being seated next to me for the entire duration of the coach trip. Fair play to her really. If I faced the prospect of sitting next to someone who spoke three words an hour I'd have probably taken desperate measures to evade the situation too. But it has to be said that I've changed over the years… and possibly only in the last few days that I'm finding myself getting bolder and taking risks.

Going for a meal with the Dave of old was probably quite an ordeal. The conversation would have dried up before the starter arrived and you'd spend the evening listening to the clinking of cutlery and drinking copious amounts of water between eating in order distract yourself from the tumbleweed floating past your feet…

Thankfully it's not like that anymore. Given the right company and providing we (my co-eater and I) share some common ground I could waffle on all night. It's just a matter of being given that opportunity. When your closet friends have known you to be a mouse like creature for so many years it's difficult for their mindset to change. But it's safe to say that going for a drink with David C Hill isn't what it used to be.

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