Does everyone else see this shit?
Interacting with other people can be an uncomfortable experience for me, and I’m unsure if this is because I am the reigning Lord of all things self-conscious or because everyone else is just particularly good at hiding their own social neuroses and questions of awkwardness. I think part of it might have something to do with the fact that I must have missed a lot of social awareness classes growing up, because I seemed to come late to the information party on a lot of kind of important things. Things that other kids just seemed to know I was blissfully ignorant of: For instance I had no idea what a ‘boner’ was until some kid at summer camp explained it to me when I was 9.
This is because I lived under a massive fucking rock up until I was 10 or so, and one partly of my own devising, because I don’t ask questions. You’d think if a very sensitive part of your body occasionally became even more sensitive and, like, I guess the proper term is erect, you’d ask someone a fucking question. Nope. Not me. Questioning things is not how I operate. Whether this is because I am very comfortable within whatever cocoon of knowledge I have constructed for myself and see no need in expanding it or because I am just a hopelessly unaware person is up for debate.
I’d put it down to the latter, with an asterisk, because there are always asterisks when I am involved. The reason I say asterisk here is that I am not totally unaware – I am just a very selective noticer of things. I have a great head for facts and figures and random information. I could, without consulting a wiki of any type, probably give you more information about the Game of Thrones universe (and to be fair to academic me, I could do the same for classical Greek and Roman history and a few other things that actually exist) than just about everyone not named George Martin.. I want to know who did what and why, it interests me, so I read on and find out. When it comes down to things that actually affect me, I’m sadly all too willing to just chalk it off as something that just happens and I can’t do anything but accept it. When a little voice in my head goes “Gee, why is my penis all funny right now? Sure is hard to piss like this,” another little voice replies, “Hey no biggie The Leach, that just happens sometimes, nothing you can do. It’ll go away in a few minutes if you don’t think about it or anything. Go read a book.” And that will be that – nothing to see here folks, move along.
Whether this has anything to do with how self conscious I am remains to be seen, but there’s a sense that if you get burned a few times for lacking basic information about your body/missing social cues, you’ll overcorrect to spare yourself future shame. However true that may or may not be, I have a really heightened sense of paranoia around seeing other people doing things that I wouldn’t do and not seeming to notice.
This is not the same as saying that they make me feel uncomfortable. That’s looking at something that you don’t like and having an opinion by being all “Ew, I don’t like that thing!” I am almost impossible to creep out in that fashion. Rather this is about seeing something that seems a little off, and not being sure if I’m supposed to have an opinion about it, and thinking I must have missed something if and when everyone else has, by their acknowledgement or non-acknowledgement of that difference, tacitly revealed that they have an opinion about it (not noticing something can itself be an opinion, i.e. that thing is not worthy of notice), and I’m just sitting alone unsure of what to think.
Let’s say that for some inexplicable reason a bunch of naked dudes are milling around in a place they aren’t supposed to be and acting all nonchalant about it, like in a museum or library or courtroom, just a place where naked people generally are not to be found. Also, this isn’t a naked run, this is just dudes hanging out naked reading the newspaper. Instead of walking into the library and thinking “well that’s disgusting,” I’ll start to question whether I’m doing something wrong. “Those dudes are naked. Ok. Fact. Definitely naked. All of them, naked, hanging out. And they look like it’s normal, and no one is yelling at them. Is this a party? Naked Tuesday thing? Fuck, there aren’t any signs or directional’s, how was I supposed to know. Am I supposed to be naked too? Wait am I the weird one now? What the fuck. If I’m supposed to be naked where do I put my clothes? I can’t see where they put theirs; did they just show up naked? Should I walk to my car or something and get naked and come back in?” That’s what it’s like, every fucking time I see a bunch of people doing something that isn’t quite the way I had always assumed things were supposed to be. I start wondering if everyone is crazy or if I’m just hyper sensitive, although in this case which was sort of dramatized for effect I think being sensitive to the issue might not be a crazy reaction.
One of the biggest instances of this (Which I have since solved but confused me so much at the time) revolves around thighs. First, I used to feel really uncomfortable around public transportation when I would sit and another person would sit down next to me and our thighs would be touching while we sat there, being shuttled along to our separate destinations. I always assumed that thighs were personal space, like the castle doors to my penis, and I kept being rudely disabused of that (admittedly) idiotic notion every time a stranger sat their ass down next to me and our thighs would touch. This happened so often that I slowly realized that thighs were not personal space and that it’s ok if yours touch the persons next to you.
However I still do think that while a stranger may have their thigh space and I have my space (and our thighs touch because that’s socially OK, obviously, because people keep doing it) that doesn’t mean that you get to dominate the available thigh-space such that my thighs are squeezed into a corner so that you can sit there and gloat with your genitals the point of origin of the asshole 90-degree angle your thighs are forming. I’ve had enough of dickheads doing their best to use their thighs like the battering rams of an expansionary Ottoman horde against my tired 15th century Eastern European defenses. Would that my own thighs – sad, fightless protuberances that they are – had the resolve of Vlad the Impaler and actually fought back. Fuck you and sit properly in your seat, the limits of which your thighs may expand towards, but no further.
That seems covered, and so we have thigh related issue number one assessed. The second issue, something of a corollary, concerns how much thigh it is acceptable to show. As a soccer player this question gains prominence as I have developed not only slightly larger thighs than your average human, but I play a sport in whose very rulebook it is decreed that my thighs must be displayed, like some bizarre athletic meat market. That isn’t a joke, I am a referee and shorts must be worn, as per the rulebook I am checking on the Internet at my shitty temp job right now.
The issue of thigh showing is similarly relevant to me because different demographics seem to have very different ideas of what constitutes acceptable thigh showing. For instance it seems like from the 60’s to the 80’s, shorts were pretty much mid-thigh length, judging by what movies featuring summertime joggers and old basketball games (the only two historical records I have access to) seem to indicate. However most recently shorts have been much longer, judging by the ever-reliable trend indications of basketball games, and I guess by the slightly less reliable clothing choices of people I see in public.
However despite this kneeward expansion of general short sizes, soccer shorts sizes have been stagnant, with no foreseeable size increase in the future. So where’s the social issue? Well I’ve got all these soccer shorts, and I’m wearing them in public around people wearing shorts down to their knees, and so I’m the only non-female figure with their thighs out, and I feel fucking weird about it, like everyone else had a meeting where acceptable public shorts sizes was hashed out but I wasn’t invited and now I’m the idiot who never got the memo and showed up to school on an off day.
This problem burned at me through my prime self-conscious years (13-17), until I got to college, where I learned that thigh showing was totally acceptable, particularly in any athletic context. Why is this? No idea, but I saw so many thighs – serious kudos to rugby players on this account, y’all got mad thigh confidence – that I became totally unconscious to all things thigh related. I can’t tell if I just became slowly inoculated against the presence of so many thighs to the point where I stopped noticing, in the way that people used to build up immunities to various poisons (you are probably thinking of Wesley with his iocane powder here, though I prefer to think of myself as a slightly retarded version of Mithridates). It was either that or I just one day realized who gives a shit about thighs.
These social confusions aside, I’m still coming to grips with the latest issue, namely, how much (penis related) bulge is acceptably visible in the crotch region? This isn’t a “how big is a normal penis supposed to be” question – trust me I’ve done all of that relevant research. Rather, regardless of how big one’s penis is, how much of its accompanying bulge is acceptably visible in public?
I ask because I was out playing indoor soccer last week and one kid had, to my eye, far more bulge displayed than should be allowed. I’m not sure if that’s some sort of weird clothing malfunction or if he just had a monstercock, but I felt like something was wrong. I’m not sure what he could have done; like I don’t think people should be walking around hunched over or anything to spare me a bulge sighting but I feel a smart person could figure out how to help all parties here.
Which then brings up the first question, do other people even notice those things in the first place? I’m not saying I walk around with my eyes permanently at hip level trying to check out how prominently the men around me are displaying their dicks but it’s something that I do occasionally notice, and I feel like it’s one of those things that most people would notice. And if you do notice those things do you bring it to the relevant parties attention? Like, ‘hey dude, great cock but can you keep it out of the limelight?’ That question was superfluous actually; I doubt anyone has ever considered alerting the offending party.
But then, once we’re off the question on whether or not this is a notice-worthy issue, arises the other question, namely, even if you do notice it, is this an issue or not? Is it just something that one notices, like different skillsets, e.g. when I’m watching a sport and notice someone is a particularly good shooter or passer or whatever, or that guys tall, and the issue of someone having a noticeable dick-bulge in their pants is just on that level, something that you notice because it distinguishes them from the rest, but nothing more? I don’t know and consider the jury is still out on this issue. Not that I’m not going to keep losing sleep about it, and a thousand other weird things that I notice.