Last week I flew back to the UK for a mate’s wedding.
“How you feeling?” I asked him.
“You’ve already asked me that, mate,” he replied.
“It’s going without a hitch!” I tried again.
“You said that too.”
We laughed, but I was self-conscious. There was a jazz band playing. Huddles of people holding finger-sized pizzas on the lawn.
I adore jazz. But when I hear it live, I never feel I’m in the right place. As for ‘mingling,’ well that’s difficult enough – without adding miniature pizzas to the situation.
How can I ‘be myself’ while holding food that’s 20 times smaller than it should be?
Sometimes I worry that I’m a cheapskate
I come from a long line of cheapskates.
True story: My granddad once pulled his car into a lay-by before driving through an airshow’s admission booth. He wanted to save the price of an adult, so he threw my grandma in the trunk.
I have a millionaire uncle who’s never spent more than 10 quid on a shirt. Last year he bought a £30 one for my sister’s wedding. You should’ve seen him go on about it. Anyone would think he’d had a lung removed.
But I’m a bit like that, I’ve noticed. And as time goes on it’s getting worse.
Sometimes I worry that I’m inappropriate
I work from home. Live in a foreign country too.
I’m no hermit. I have friends. But I probably don’t interact with people as much as I should.
My wife and I visited some friends who’ve just had a baby. It’s their first baby, so they’re fussing over it way more than is necessary.
They even have this thing called ‘word time.’
Each day, they repeat a new word to him – like “dichotomy” – and watch him not respond.
“So…” my friend said after word time. “Looks like Britain’s pandering a bit to the Americans. What with Brexit.”
“Yes,” I concurred. “It’s time for Britain to start sucking some serious common-market cock.”
The room fell silent. His wife covered the baby’s ears. My wife shook her head. Made a strange groaning sound through her teeth. I don’t know why I say these things. I always feel stupid afterwards.
Sometimes I worry that I’m bad with children
I saw my niece and nephew the other week.
The niece doesn’t do much. She just wobbles around and dribbles on things. The nephew’s a little older. He throws punches and calls me “penis man.”
But I’m no snowflake.
Truth be told, I enjoy a light-hearted scrap. So I picked him up by the legs and swung him around the room, then dropped him on the couch from a great height. He bumped his head, then said:
“Alex is great with kids,” my wife reassured her sister.
But I’m not really. I only throw them around because I don’t know how to talk to them. I’ll never be that bloke who kneels down and puts on that funny voice when talking to kids.
I can’t do it, for some reason. It feels weird.
Sometimes I worry that I’ll never amount to anything
I used to imagine myself appearing on shows like Letterman and Parkinson.
“So, Alex,” Letterman says. “Tell me about this new…”
…Then he just stops talking and the vision disappears.
Now I’m pushing 30, it all seems a bit ridiculous. Of course I think I’m special. I only live with my own consciousness.
Lately I’ve been more focussed on getting a house – moving forwards in life.
I’m told buying a house is one of the best financial decisions, but I’m not totally convinced. Take my family.
They’ve owned houses going back generations. But whenever one of them dies, the house always disappears, and my dad – or somebody – says, “Oh look, that’s nice. They left us 10 grand.”
What about the other 190 thousand?
We should have a bloody subdivision’s worth of houses by now, but nobody’s asking where they are.
Whenever you buy or sell anything, there’s always at least one bastard (usually 2 or 3) waiting to skim something off the top. Maybe it’s them telling us to buy houses.
But the older I get, the more attentively I listen, and I can actually feel myself getting pulled into the crowd.
But for all those faults I worry about, there’s usually a flip-side
If I wasn’t so boring in person, could I be expressive in writing?
If I wasn’t such a cheap-skate, would I be financially responsible?
If I wasn’t insecure about my progress, would I be ambitious?
My wife is the kindest person I’ve ever met. She is also overly sensitive, and I’m not sure those two qualities are separate.
So pick up your faults. Take a look underneath. What do you see on the other side?
Why keep worrying?