“Too Tall” Tree – The Story of My Eccentricities

27 Jun

When I was a kid, my mom always tried to get me to have other kids over to play. She talked about calling the kid down the road. She hosted birthday parties. She threw a Halloween party that became a famous event in our family’s history. All the time, she tried to figure out ways to get kids to the house. She even told me that she was shy as a child and never had other kids over. It was a regret that she did not want me to have.

Yep, my mom tried to guilt me into having kids over to play.

Sometimes, I agreed to it. However, most times I was comfortable playing alone and using my imagination. There were Hot Wheels that could be crashed or turned into a miniature NASCAR race. There was this awesome football game where you put a disc into the player, and the radio announcer told you what happened on the play. There was also a basketball goal where imaginary last second shots could be hoisted.

One of my favorite games was “Too Tall” Tree.image-2

I got a football and pretended that the trees were defenders. I had to get through them to score a touchdown. I did the play-by-play at the same time. Being a Cowboys fan, I named one of the trees after Ed “Too Tall” Jones. It was years later that I learned that Jones played college ball at Tennessee State University in Nashville.

Anyway, I took the ball from center, and, when “Too Tall” Tree blocked my ability to pass, I took off down the field. It sounds weird, but it was a lot of fun when I was little.

I think my parents and other people thought it was weird way back then. I overheard people saying that I was selfish and did not want other kids playing with my toys. I guess that was the only reason they could think of why a kid did not want other kids around. Well, there was another reason. I was not comfortable around people.

All of this came to mind during a conversation with my wife. At some point, she asked, “You don’t like people do you?”

That is absolutely not true. I like all kinds of people, but, at times, I am still not comfortable around them. This is really true when it comes to strangers. I have never been good at starting a conversation with a complete stranger. I cannot think of anything to say. No witty comments come from the back of my mind. Simply, it is something that brings a lot of discomfort.

I do not start conversations with people sitting next to me on a plane. I do not start conversations with somebody at a bar.

Certainly, this has caused me to miss out on meeting some great and interesting people. I know that more than anyone.

During that same conversation, my wife asked how I have met people. That is a good question. I have met a lot of great people, and many of them have become my friends. Mostly, I have met new people through people who I have already known. That way they are not a complete stranger. In the modern business vernacular, that is called networking.

Of course, some people who have no problems approaching a stranger have started conversations with me. I met one of my best friends that way.

This is an issue that I have fought through all of my life. It was discussed in therapy, and it is something that I try to overcome. It is something that has hindered me through the years.

During my teenage years, I felt sorry for myself because I was not part of the cool kid groups. I did not get the messages that there were parties going on. There was this feeling of being left out. Another reason this post came to mind is because that feeling came back several days ago. There was an event that took place which I was not invited to. Internally, I acted like a child for a few hours, but it helped me put this post together.

I realize now, and knew deep down back then, that I was at fault for not opening myself up to people. If I had been more outgoing toward people who I did not know, then those people would have been more welcoming to me.

I have no idea if this post makes sense, and I have no idea how to end it. I know that I have missed out on some great people and some great opportunities. However, I know that there are a lot of great people in my life who would do anything for me just as I would do anything for them.

Am I still uncomfortable talking to strangers? Yes. I can barely do it, and I admire those who can. However, I have met a lot of people, and I like most of them. Like everyone else, there are some people who I can do without.

 

 

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11 Responses to ““Too Tall” Tree – The Story of My Eccentricities”

  1. Marilyn Armstrong June 27, 2014 at 20:51 #

    I started out sociable (but was still unpopular, probably because I used big words and read books AND wasn’t athletic) and have ended up just as happy to be on my own. I was hyper-sociable as a young woman, am almost a hermit as I head into old age. I’m not sure what any of it means or whether it means anything. You may not have liked people because you had nothing in common with them … or they with you. And you found their company dull, uninspiring and your own company was far more fun. I always figure that at least I get my own jokes. No small thing at this stage of life.

    • Rick June 28, 2014 at 03:52 #

      I haven’t thought about how we change at different times in our lives. That’s an interesting idea.

      • DyingNote June 28, 2014 at 08:05 #

        Marilyn has hit the mark here. Our own requirements change with age and often personality changes to meet those requirements.

  2. DyingNote June 28, 2014 at 08:01 #

    I just find people interesting and that is one of the reasons I changed over time from a very shy, almost a rudely distant child to someone who happily chats up strangers (often at music gigs).
    In the early days of our marriage my wife used to cajole me to talk. Now she reaches out for her noise cancelling earphones.

    • Rick June 28, 2014 at 15:22 #

      I find people interesting, as well. Once I start talking to someone, I tend to ask a lot of questions. I wonder if that is to stop them from asking me questions.

      • DyingNote June 28, 2014 at 15:44 #

        Interesting thought that

  3. Mark R. Cheathem June 28, 2014 at 13:14 #

    I identify with a lot of this post.

    I didn’t have a “Too-Tall” tree, but I used to play basketball with paper wads and a big UT cup, doing play-by-play out loud. Somehow, I didn’t always win.

    • Rick June 28, 2014 at 15:24 #

      When I played basketball in the driveway and missed a “last second” shot, I would get fouled or add a few seconds because of a clock malfunction.

      • Mark R. Cheathem June 28, 2014 at 16:33 #

        Of course. Nothing like home-court advantage. I would sometimes let a championship loss fuel my “team” for the next season.

  4. John S July 7, 2014 at 23:13 #

    I don’t think you or anyone else needs to be down on themselves about how they relate to others. We are all different. As long as we understand ourselves we deal with it. As we get older maybe we relax because we are less fearful of the judgement of others. Bottom line though: we are who we are.

    • Rick July 7, 2014 at 23:15 #

      That’s true. Everyone is different, and that is what makes the human race interesting.

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