Sunday, November 20, 2005

Pete's curiously pointless post of Thursday, Oct. 27

Pete wrote a post titled "Please don't touch the writer," and it really doesn't add up.

Here's the short version: Pete gives some sort of coffeehouse reading. Afterwards, people come talk to him, and some of them touch his shoulder. Then Pete details various times that people have randomly come up to talk to him based on recognizing him from his readings or artwork. In summary, Pete says that being approached unnerves him because he is "very very shy."

What, perchance, is Pete's point? I mean, how does this even qualify as a blog entry? All it amounts to is, "Dear diary, when people talk to me I feel icky."

What insight are we supposed to glean from this? This post hints at what might be an interesting phobia, or the conflict between an artist's isolated, creative self and his public, interactive persona. But when Pete finally asks the important question, he cops out with the easiest explanation possible for his seclusion -- shyness. But being shy isn't interesting, and it isn't an answer. Why are you shy, Pete?

Shyness could stem from any number of things, including fear, awkwardness and insecurity. But it could also mean that somebody is self-absorbed to the point where he is genuinely disinterested in other people. Or that somebody is uncomfortable with feelings of admiration and respect, perhaps not having ever been the object of such things, or perhaps not trusting that they are sincere (or, if they are sincere, not respecting the people who express them, as in the infamous Groucho Marx syndrome: "I'd never want to join a club that would have me as a member").

In short, shyness as an excuse just doesn't cut it. Insert Kajagoogoo reference here.

There are a few telling details in Pete's post. In one incident, Pete feels he must wash up after shaking hands with somebody at a restaurant. Seems a bit extreme, and I assume Pete knows how to use utensils so he doesn't have to shovel food into his mouth with his potentially hepatitis-tainted fingers, but that's obsessive-compulsive disorder for you.

What is even more telling is that Peter actually finds it noteworthy that people tend to touch his shoulder while congratulating him. It makes you wonder, was Pete in fact raised by wolves? Or perhaps locked in the closet with Nell? (What is it with Jodie Foster and enclosed spaces: "Nell," "Panic Room," "Flightplan"? That crazy broad!)

Here's a little advice for Pete: When people want to talk to you about your work, be gracious and use it as the opportunity to practice your small-talk skills. Maybe you can even ask them their opinion on some subject for a future writing. As the goodbook says, people are there for you to use, so waste not, want not.

Instead, here's what Pete claims he tells people: "I don't actually read my work, I simply write it..."? Oh, Pete. Are you trying for a Pretench (the annual award for pretentiousness)? Because I think you've got it in the bag!

And all of Pete's failures to analyze his feelings aside, there is another question that he leaves unanswered: Do Pete's writings ever get him laid?

If so, I assume he wears a full-body condom. Because touching is icky in the world according to Pete.