Monday, April 13, 2009

Excuse me, have YOU thought about eternal damnation today?

At some point in my distant past, I used to be a joiner. Gimme a five-minute-talk by someone with a story hook and a sense of humour, and I was signing on that dotted line. I don’t mean for magazine subscriptions or odd cults where you are required to wear banana boots and whistle arcane themes through your ears, I mean clubs, causes, those kinds of things.

As an example: When I matriculated (in itself a minor miracle), my testimonial from the headmaster dredged up the small fact that I had been part of the Yacht Club at school. I must have signed up for it in the first year, daydreams of salt-spray lashing my wind-reddened cheeks… But I never actually made it as far as being on a yacht. Apparently, although I never went to meetings or convened them, I was the secretary of the Creative Writing group, the Head of the school’s chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a member of the film club and also an active member of the Scripture Union.

That sounds like a pretty cool kid to be friends with. But it wasn’t me! I signed up for those things and never went to the actual meetings.

I did get honours in the English Olympiad (despite never actually reading the Shakespeare plays we were tested on) and sang in plays and two choirs.

But mostly I practiced becoming cynical, and smoking behind the tennis courts. (Or up trees- teachers never look up!)

But now: All somebody has to do is look at me hopefully, and I have my refusal speech in place: Too busy/poor/mentally ill to participate in your club/fundraising drive/crocheting circle. I am the anti-joiner. But, with the anonymity of the internet, I can follow your pages, join your sites, without committing myself in any way. I do try and keep track of anyone who passes by and leaves a comment. You don't have to join- just smile and wave...

In the past few weeks, with Neen away, I have refused loads of invitations from friends to bring the children round for supper- mainly because the effort in preparing them, then tidying the house for when we are collected, is just too much. Evenings are a time for tired children to meltdown in the privacy and comfort of their own homes. No waaaaay am I chancing taking this circus out in public without the benefit of a partner to distract people from moods and bickering and, sometimes yelling. Short of me faking a seizure, my children would be on display. People will say I wonder how he’s doing on his own- and it is much easier to say fine, than to let them see the occasional polar opposite to fine.

I can handle them, this- but I don’t particularly want to share it with anyone outside immediate family. My sister-in-law gets it. That’s about it.

Accepting those invitations would be tantamount to sailing imaginary yachts again.


  1. *smiling and waving!*

    I agree with you. It's just so much simpler to have family-only meltdowns on a regular basis.

    And btw, I'm very impressed that your school even HAD a yacht club.

  2. It was one of those schools- straw hats, boys only, just as ruinous to teenage boys as any other environment. We had a wine tasting club, too- I only went once- drive around to different vineyards, tasting...
    Yup, Abby, Keep it Simple.

  3. I'm today getting caught up on all your posts after a few days away.

    I think you're missing the point. USE those meltdowns. Give in to a family invite, take the kids, have a melt-down, and get out of doing so again until memories fade/bruises heal/priceless vases are glued back together.

    Congrats on never reading Shakespeare.

  4. @Briane P: We've tried that, and I suspect people just invite us over to make themselves feel better about their own children.
    And I have read Shakespeare- just not the dreary ones we were tested on that time. Shakespeare is cool! Wish I was an actor, then I could wear a codpiece, too.

  5. Oh Gods, I know this more than you can imagine. I'm a hermit in meatspace but I'm a butterfly out here in the ether because it requires much less commitment/energy/charisma and I can do it on MY time... I'm glad you non-visit me, you're a pretty nice feller.

  6. @Sam: Thanks- I barely even get this, so you must be driven crazy by children, too.

  7. Actually no. I do that exclusively on Thursdays, when travelling on the N12, and around tax time.


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