The last winning suggestion for the “Throw Oz Under The Bus” blog challenge was by my friend Dot Caffery, who just released her second book Cursed Power in her Trilogy of Power series. Click on the links to go to her website and to find her book on Amazon. I’m a week and a half late with this one, so I failed the deadline for the challenge, but I sacrificed speed for quality. I hope it pays off.
“The ins and outs of navigating Las Vegas as Oz Monroe.”
This will meander for a bit, but bear with me.
Writing is difficult, getting your point across, having people understand the layered nuances of your carefully chosen stream of words, is one of the more challenging tasks one can undertake. The written word is a form of communication, but in a strange and relatively new way to humans. Communication can only occur when the message has been transmitted AND received. Humans have cultivated complex systems of sounds and gestures to transmit messages to one another and subtle ways to respond with “message received”. You can tell right away if the joke you tell is taken badly when face to face if the other person furrows their brows. Misunderstandings and mistakes can be quickly rectified.
Not so with the written word. It is delayed at best. It is difficult to know how others interpret your words without that instant feedback. Writers have to resort to critique groups, friends, family, beta-readers, and anyone else willing to be honest and forthright, while not being cruel, to get an inkling as to how others will perceive what they have created, and still it goes awry. I have often used the analogy that being a writer is like being a colorblind painter; I can mix colors any way I wish, but until I ask others I have no way to know if I in fact made green. This step, asking for feedback, is vital if you want what you say to be what is heard.
Well, my life is like a story told one second at a time, and I’m colorblind (not literally). It is difficult for me to know if what I say and do is looked upon by others in the way I hope unless I get trusted feedback. I don’t always know if that person is being overly sensitive, or was I just being a dick (again), and I rely on my friends to let me know. Sure, I could follow the advice to not care what others think and to always “be myself.” I could follow what is in my heart and strive for what I know to be right no matter the opinions of society. The trouble I have with that is I am sure Stalin, Pol Pot, Manson, and Dahmer all followed that advice to the letter. Often the villain is unaware and the torturers consider themselves the saviors. Everyone is the hero of their own story.
What does all this have to do with navigating Las Vegas as “Oz Monroe”? To me, every new person I meet is like a having a new viewer to my show after they missed the first 36 season. I have a strange and desperate fear of being misunderstood by people that are unaware of my story arc and I have no idea how to catch them up. To make matters worse, I am baffled by small talk. I don’t see the point and I’m really, really bad at it. When people ask how I am, I’m inclined to tell them the truth, when really the question was just meant to be a way to say hello. To me, quips about weather and sports are just a way to fill the uncomfortable silence. The problem is, I wasn’t uncomfortable with the silence, the other person was. But now that I’m supposed to respond with some trivial cliché, I’m the one that’s uneasy, making the entire social interaction a slow awkward game of who can stand it longer. I usually lose and go slink off to a corner to hide.
This is all to say that navigating somewhere like Las Vegas, or any place full of friendly talkative people, is tiring.
This post may not be what you were expecting, but what can I say. Small talk just isn’t my cup of tea.
Thanks for reading.