Things that bother me:
- People that walk too slowly and insist upon taking up the whole sidewalk.
- People that talk in movie theaters.
- People that talk in class.
- People that cannot figure out the proper use of the noble apostrophe.
- People that drive up behind me at a stoplight and pull in so close that all I can see in my rear-view mirror is an angry, bug-splattered grill.
- People that think I am their best friend just because I tolerate them.
- People that tell me I should smile more often.
- People that insist upon giving me a backrub while they talk to me.
On second thought, I could probably narrow that list down to one item: people.
I have never been a particularly social person, and I find small-talk difficult. Ask me "What do you think about black holes?" or "What are your thoughts about mythology?" and I could talk with you for hours. Ask me "How are you?" or "Did you watch the Oscars last night?" and our conversation is doomed to die within a minute, with few exceptions.
I am an introvert. Both of my parents are introverts. A sizable portion of my friends are introverts. Sometimes a small group of us can sit at the same table for our entire fifty-minute lunch period without exchanging a single syllable. Add one extravert, however, and we can become one of the louder tables in the cafeteria.
* * *
I live in a tourist town. Our tallest building is a hotel.
They swoop in during the summer, clad in dorky shorts, Hawaiian print shirts, baseball caps, and knee-length white socks worn under their Velcro-strap sandals. Often, they have large, bulky cameras strung around their necks like horrendous necklaces, and supremely-unhelpful illustrated maps folded up and sticking out of their back pockets. The most prominent among them are over sixty and come from California, but there are also student groups from elsewhere in the region and occasional groups of foreigners (mostly, it seems, Japanese, for some peculiar reason).
They wander in small herds about the sidewalks, stopping to look in shop windows, ignorant of the fact that they are impeding the way for locals. Some of us have places to be, you know.
* * *
Fewer than 1000 students attend my high school. The campus is a collection of somewhat unsightly brown buildings with red roofs. Considering that it is a public school, it really is not so bad, despite its dismal appearances. Yes, there are some awful teachers, and yes, I would rather skip and stay at home, but in all, it is a good school. One of the best in the nation, as our principal likes to remind us.
There is a bit of social stratification among the student body, but it is mostly a matter of choice. The lines are set by where a person sits at lunch. Wanna-be popular people and jocks hang around the Upper Quad, weirdos and people-who-don't-care sit on the Lower Quad, theatre people congregate in the glass-walled theatre lobby, musicians go to the band/orchestra room, and nerds go into the Commons even on sunny days. The genuinely popular people usually go off-campus for lunch.