Today’s song is one of my favourites by Polish progressive rockers Riverside. It’s called Conceiving You.
The song is about a man who is watching a woman from a distance and is totally afraid to actually go and talk to her. Subsequently, he finds himself simply worshipping her from afar.
The poor fellow in the song resonates with me because when I was a shy, spotty ugly youth, I found myself unable to talk to girls that I liked. My rampant shyness was a curse and if I somehow found a nugget of courage in my deranged psyche and actually asked them out, I was destroyed when the inevitable rejection happened.
I chose to look at such girls from afar and watched in agony as other guys succeeded where I knew I would inevitably fail.
Shyness really is a curse and can be debilitating. Over the years I have all but conquered this affliction - though sometimes I am still stuck in a corner terrified to speak to strangers, beating myself up and trying to metaphorically slap my own face in order to snap myself out of the irrational fear that is disabling me mentally.
Nowadays, I consider the worst possible outcome and even then it is not that terrifying. What I have found is that I have an empathy with other shy people and when I see somebody standing uselessly in a corner trying to pluck up the courage to speak, I force myself to actually help them out.
“Hi there; I’m Dave,” I say trying to mask my own nervousness and in a lot of cases I can see a mixture of relief and pleasure that somebody has taken the time to start a chat.
On the other hand my forced efforts to chat to strangers can backfire.
Because I am a nutter magnet.
There are times when I don’t have to say anything to nutters – they come to me and inflict their strange views on me, much to the amusement of others who may be watching.
Click here to read some encounters I have had with nutters.
Sadly, some of these encounters with nutters have been self-inflicted. One such incident involved a Manchester City fan (the blue side of Manchester) in my local pub. I was standing next to him at the bar and I just casually started a conversation.
I was with two mates, one of whom supported Manchester United (the red side of Manchester), the nutter’s fiercest rivals.
At first, it all went well.
“Who do you support?” he asked.
“Walsall,” I said proudly.
Walsall are a club that struggle two divisions below the Premiership and as such are not a threat to Manchester City at all. The nutter liked the fact that I support such a pitiable club and actually patted me on the back stating I was a true football fan. I walked back to my mates with the nutter talking to me but at that point, his true nutter identity revealed itself, prompted by my Manchester United supporting friend whom he overheard talking about their last match and how they were unlucky to lose.
The change was terrifying. This seemingly reasonable and pleasant man suddenly allowed his hatred for Manchester United to transform him from Dr Jekyll to Mr Hyde.
He turned to my mate and introduced himself with these words:
“Unlucky to lose? Your pharking red bastards have the referee in your pharking pockets!”
His tone was menacing and he spat the words out with an ill-disguised threat.
“What?” my mate said in surprise.
And then he made a mistake. He responded.
“Oh – and Manchester City are squeaky clean?”
The nutter reacted in a way that even I couldn’t have predicted.
“Shut your pharking mouth before I put you on the pharking floor!”
My mate just calmly said “Discussion over!” and thankfully the nutter left after briefly staring menacingly.
The other lad I was with looked at me and said:
“For God’s sake, Dave! Will you stop talking to strange men?”
That wasn’t the end of it.
The nutter and his mates later left but had to pass our table to do so. As he passed, he once again flipped between Jekyll and Hyde!
“Here are the GAY BOYS!” he said with a barely disguised threat.
We ignored him but then, bizarrely, he came up to me, patted me on the shoulder and with a genuine smile on his face he said.
“I hope Walsall do well, mate! Good to meet you!”
Now I almost said “Didn’t you just call me a gay boy?” but one look from my mates told me not to open my mouth again!
You see, dear reader?
I am a nutter magnet and I just wish that on this one occasion I had allowed my shyness to win a small victory.