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(Inc)   CSB Sunday Morning: Out of your element   ( inc.com) divider line
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3070 clicks; posted to Main » on 18 Jun 2017 at 9:00 AM (14 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2017-06-17 10:42:13 PM  
CSB Sunday Morning: Out of your element

We have a Fathers Day thread on main page if you'd like to share stories about that.

Being out of your element could be something as simple as inadvertently walking into a gay bar(if you're straight) for lunch, or as involved as going to a gathering with your new significant other and finding out they come from a family of hard core bikers(or churchies). In TFA, the author spent a rough 6 months in another country that led to him living an extended and adventurous ex-pat life. Although extroverts and introverts handle these situations differently, the personal process of how you come to a realization of your surroundings and hyper-actively adapt to them is probably similar for all of us. Several times I've found myself in an odd or awkward setting until the "okay then, fark it" switch in my brain kicked in, and I just started rolling with it.

So share your CSBs of being out of your comfort zone, how you dealt with it, and how it made you rethink your approach to similar situations going forward in life.
 
2017-06-17 11:24:41 PM  
Oh, lots of times.  The most fun was a party after law school graduation.

One of my classmates and good friends was an older guy who was a very atypical student.  He had done many things during his life and even got a patch in a motorcycle club.  He looks like a chubbier version of the drawing of the guy on Zig Zag packages.  He's smart and hilarious.  His wife is a professional bellydancer and knew a whole lot of hippies living in the hills.  (This was in Oregon.)

They lived in a house on a few acres out in the countryside.  They threw a party and invited me.  Of course I went, along with a number of other classmates.  I was expecting it to be mostly people from the law school.  For the record, I'm clean cut and I like khakis.  You know the type.

I arrive and there are probably 200 people.  Lots of classmates, of course, but also a whole lot of bikers, hippies and bellydancers.  My classmate and his wife went around introducing everyone and, well, it was awesome.  Pretty much everyone hit it off and the party went until the sun was coming up.

At one point, everyone was seated in a big circle and a variety of musical instruments were being passed around.  We were playing and there were a number of bellydancers in the middle.

Let's just say a variety of substances were comsumed and everyone was in a good mood.  Turned out to be one of the best parties I've ever been to.
 
2017-06-17 11:35:44 PM  
My first day in Pittsburgh.  I was looking for work, having found nothing in the poconos, a rather touristy region of woods in northeastern Pennsylvania.  I had struck out so many times with want ads, online ads, and Craigslist in the previous 3 months and realized this town was different.  So I kicked it old school.  I walked about 3 miles from upper Lawrenceville down to the Strip district.  I went into every small business I found and asked if they needed anyone with my skillset, or if they knew of anyone who might hire me.  Halfway through the walk I was thirsty.  I saw a bar.  Fairly unimposing, looked like a dive so they wouldn't mind if I were sweaty (it was August).

So I walk into Art's.  Inside the first door there's a sign saying "nobody under 30 admitted".  I smiled, thinking I don't have to deal with any bullshiat kids needing knocked off their barstool while I repose and maybe talk to people a bit to get a lead.  I hear blues playing.

It's when I open the second door that all hell breaks loose.  The jukebox stops.  I hear a dozen glasses hit the bar within the span of a second and a half.  The whole place goes silent and then whispers are heard as I walk to an empty seat towards the middle of the bar.

As I'm sitting down, I realize why.  It's mid afternoon.  There are about 20 people here, and I'm the only white guy.  The bartender walks over and says "can I help you?"

I think for a moment.  I don't want to just leave because that might make things worse.  "Gin and tonic" I say.  I lay a fin on the bar and tap it afterwards.  The bartender walks away, comes back with my drink.  I know he took the five, but I can't tell you if he brought me change or not.  I know I didn't pick any money off the bar.  I just drank my drink at a somewhat hurried pace, half the place watching me.  Conversation started back up slowly.  Once my drink was done I made a somewhat hasty retreat.

I guess I learned to roll with the punches looking back on that.  I didn't learn it that day, but in fact afterwards reflecting on what happened there.  Now my motto is "be chill and be me", and yes, there's still that awkward silence that happens when I walk into a place like that but I just do my thing and everything's normal after the first drink or two.
 
2017-06-17 11:49:24 PM  
I have a buddy who lives in Japan and keeps telling me I need to move there. I'd do it if I didn't love my legal weed so much. Then there's that whole North Korea thing.
 
2017-06-17 11:57:55 PM  
I staying with some friends in Miami. We were going to go to see the Pink Lincolns but the show was canceled due to a stabbing. One of the guys we were skating with said there was a band playing at the skating rink by his house in Liberty City. This was '85 or '86 so Liberty City was fairly dangerous back then but teenagers are invulnerable so we loaded up and went.
So when
 
2017-06-18 12:04:27 AM  

elpresidenteALO: I staying with some friends in Miami. We were going to go to see the Pink Lincolns but the show was canceled due to a stabbing. One of the guys we were skating with said there was a band playing at the skating rink by his house in Liberty City. This was '85 or '86 so Liberty City was fairly dangerous back then but teenagers are invulnerable so we loaded up and went.
So when


So when what?
 
2017-06-18 12:08:23 AM  

elpresidenteALO: I staying with some friends in Miami. We were going to go to see the Pink Lincolns but the show was canceled due to a stabbing. One of the guys we were skating with said there was a band playing at the skating rink by his house in Liberty City. This was '85 or '86 so Liberty City was fairly dangerous back then but teenagers are invulnerable so we loaded up and went.
So when


Whoops!
So we got to the rink in a super sketchy neighborhood. We paid  and went in. Thee music came to a screeching halt and one of the MC's says "Holy shoat! We got some crackers here. Welcome crackers."  And that's the first time I saw 2 Live Crew.
 
2017-06-18 12:29:42 AM  
I am simultaneously out of my element at all time and in my element at all times. Sort of like a master of all, master of none. There is no such thing as a comfort zone for me. Sometimes I can be comfortable in any situation and other times there is no situation that makes me feel comfortable. After 40+ years of life, I'm thinking I'll never find my tribe.

One of my favorite things to do while socializing is to enter a group of complete strangers. There's a comfort to this. Nobody knows me so they don't know what to expect. I'm friendly enough that I'm not threatening to their comfort zones. I do what I can to make them laugh. I use self-deprecation to help that. My first time with any group is always a fun time. I am "that funny guy that nobody knows". As long as I don't try to steal anybody's girlfriend everything is fine.

But if those same people see me two or three times, now they want to talk and find out stuff about me. I think I'm a good guy, I have my flaws, but in general I'm looking out for everybody. But no way do I want these new people to know too much about me. Mostly because I'm perfectly fine telling people all the f*cked up things about me. In my head, telling them a tragedy that happened in my life is a way of giving them insight into why I am the way I am. But to them, I'm abruptly announcing a horrible situation that makes them feel uncomfortable.

I am not judgmental when it comes to deciding if a person's misdeeds makes them a bad person. But I'm extremely judgmental when it comes to deciding how judgmental they are. And they're always judgmental. All I want is for people to know that I'm joking and to find people that think it's appropriate to joke about the things I joke about.

That's hard to do, so quite often I just shut up. I let them talk, I let them go on about whatever stupid thing they think is important to say in polite conversation. And no matter how f*cked up I think that thing is, I don't offer my own f*cked up view in return.
 
2017-06-18 12:37:20 AM  
I was 17. Just about to move out of my mom's house. My mom's brothers were in town from wherever they lived at the time. I was in the living room watching TV and they were in the kitchen making margaritas and laughing and talking and whatnot.

They got into talking about religion somehow and at one point my uncle looks over at me (you could see me in the living room from the kitchen) and says, "Wait wait wait, I want to know what Jay thinks about this. Jay, do you believe in God?"

I really appreciated that my uncle thought of me and wanted to know what I thought about this very important subject that they were drunkenly arguing about. I said, "I think there's probably a God, but he doesn't care about all the little details of our lives."

My uncle just made a noise with his mouth that was the verbal equivalent of rolling your eyes. Totally dismissive. Like what I said made no sense and I was just some stupid kid.

If I could go back now to that moment I would have challenged him and joined the conversation. But at that time, I was out of my element. My element was conversations with my equally dumb high school friends.
 
2017-06-18 01:04:35 AM  
When I lived in Terre Haute, there was an Amish community down the road. One of them had a monkey named Gerton. It probably had an umlaut or something, but it was pretty chill. One day at the farmer's market I saw Gerton sitting on his keeper's shoulder, eating an acorn. (One of those really big ones, the size of a lime.) I asked the guy (I think his name was Holger) why it was necessary to dress up Gerton in a Cinderella outfit, and he said "Because it's Saturday." Apparently on Saturdays, Gerton got to choose his own clothes. The rest of the week, it was the standard issue Amish uniform.

And that's all I've got to say about that.
 
2017-06-18 01:17:13 AM  
No matter where I am I am out of my element.

It sounds blasé to everyone else, but it is very true to me.
 
2017-06-18 01:37:25 AM  

a particular individual: When I lived in Terre Haute, there was an Amish community down the road. One of them had a monkey named Gerton. It probably had an umlaut or something, but it was pretty chill. One day at the farmer's market I saw Gerton sitting on his keeper's shoulder, eating an acorn. (One of those really big ones, the size of a lime.) I asked the guy (I think his name was Holger) why it was necessary to dress up Gerton in a Cinderella outfit, and he said "Because it's Saturday." Apparently on Saturdays, Gerton got to choose his own clothes. The rest of the week, it was the standard issue Amish uniform.

And that's all I've got to say about that.


Southern Indiana. Say no more.
 
2017-06-18 01:54:25 AM  
My liberal friends think I'm a redneck. My redneck friends think I'm a socialist. I'm the dumbest one of my friends, but the smartest of the people I'm usually around.
Strangers think I'm friendly and outgoing, but gold who know me better realize I'm actually more of an introvert than that.
All this to say, I don't really know what my element is, other than my home, and even here I so frequently want to travel away.
I don't think I'm all that different from most people, though. Maybe psychopaths. Thanks they're not most people, even if it feels like it these days.
 
2017-06-18 02:14:52 AM  
Accidental sexy-dancing with a Catholic priest in full garb at my best friend's wedding reception.

I think the priest was as confused about the whole situation as I was, but even not being Catholic I felt like I should apologize to the pope or something. My inner monologue was pretty much this:

 "Huh. Aren't there rules? This seems like it should be breaking rules or something, right? Do we need a chaperone? These dancing people are way too drunk to be anyone's chaperones. How the hell did this happen, guy I'm boogying down with? We were just talking about that funny moment during the ceremony when you didn't understand that I just wanted a blessing, not the Host! Ha ha! Nope, no wafer or wine for the heathen! Good times! Wow, isn't moving your hips like that a sin? Maybe? Not for me, but man - you better be careful, there, buddy! Zap! Lightning! Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's...um...dancing shoes? That doesn't seem fair. Priests should have dancing shoes if they want. Still! I really am not familiar with accidentally almost-dirty-dancing-with-a-priest protocol, but this sort of thing is not my style if I'm also supposed to call you Father. Yeah, you look weirded out too. Let's just chalk this up to learning a great lesson called, 'Don't Start Conversations On A Loud Dance Floor With Anyone You Don't Want To Basically Make Out With,' back away slowly, and forget this even happened. Enjoy the cake! Good night!"

*smokebomb*
 
2017-06-18 05:03:48 AM  
27 years ago next month, I moved to Germany, through a university exchange program that accepted recent graduates. I always wanted to do a semester or year abroad when I was in college, but the timing and the finances didn't work out, so this was my last chance. I was hoping to spend 2-3 years in the country, to get fluent, before returning to the U.S.

I had a backpack full of clothes, a one-year work permit, and two semesters of German under my belt. That's it. No contacts, no job offers, no nothing. Through a twist of fate that involved heavy drinking, I wound up in Heidelberg after arriving in the country. Got a job waiting tables at the 4-star Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza the next day. A week later, I found a sublet for the summer - all by speaking my broken German, which improved steadily and rapidly after that, thanks to my full immersion. Aside from the English-speaking tourist groups, I don't think I spoke a sentence of English all summer.

After waiting tables for 6 months, I got a job teaching English and managing the office at a small language school. A year-and-a-half after that, I got a job as a translator for a major German software company. And a year after that, I went freelance, and have been ever since. Still work for that software company, and I figure I've done work for 7 of the 10 biggest German companies over the course of my career.

Not a bad move overall.
 
2017-06-18 08:34:01 AM  

Goimir: My first day in Pittsburgh.  I was looking for work, having found nothing in the poconos, a rather touristy region of woods in northeastern Pennsylvania.  I had struck out so many times with want ads, online ads, and Craigslist in the previous 3 months and realized this town was different.  So I kicked it old school.  I walked about 3 miles from upper Lawrenceville down to the Strip district.  I went into every small business I found and asked if they needed anyone with my skillset, or if they knew of anyone who might hire me.  Halfway through the walk I was thirsty.  I saw a bar.  Fairly unimposing, looked like a dive so they wouldn't mind if I were sweaty (it was August).

So I walk into Art's.  Inside the first door there's a sign saying "nobody under 30 admitted".  I smiled, thinking I don't have to deal with any bullshiat kids needing knocked off their barstool while I repose and maybe talk to people a bit to get a lead.  I hear blues playing.

It's when I open the second door that all hell breaks loose.  The jukebox stops.  I hear a dozen glasses hit the bar within the span of a second and a half.  The whole place goes silent and then whispers are heard as I walk to an empty seat towards the middle of the bar.

As I'm sitting down, I realize why.  It's mid afternoon.  There are about 20 people here, and I'm the only white guy.  The bartender walks over and says "can I help you?"

I think for a moment.  I don't want to just leave because that might make things worse.  "Gin and tonic" I say.  I lay a fin on the bar and tap it afterwards.  The bartender walks away, comes back with my drink.  I know he took the five, but I can't tell you if he brought me change or not.  I know I didn't pick any money off the bar.  I just drank my drink at a somewhat hurried pace, half the place watching me.  Conversation started back up slowly.  Once my drink was done I made a somewhat hasty retreat.

I guess I learned to roll with the punches looking back on that.  I didn't learn it that day, but in fact afterwards reflecting on what happened there.  Now my motto is "be chill and be me", and yes, there's still that awkward silence that happens when I walk into a place like that but I just do my thing and everything's normal after the first drink or two.


I did that at Onions place inBraddock.
 
2017-06-18 08:47:03 AM  
A little background - my parents each had one sibling & I have a total of 6 cousins.  The closest of them lives/d 12+ hours away, the other set across the country - iow we didn't see them much & I didn't grow up with a lot of family around (plenty of friends but 'family' holidays were just the four of us - mom, dad, me, my sister).

Set the wayback machine to 1986 (87?) & I was the future Mrs RT's current 'serious' boyfriend.  She invited me to her family Christmas party...ok, whatever (I had known her immediate family for a few years but had no idea about the rest of them).  The day of the party we were running late for some reason & she was giving me directions on how to get to where we were going.  Ok fine, btw, how many people are going to be there today (he says innocently...).  Oh, just just my uncles (& their families of course) & maybe some second cousins/assorted near relatives.  Ok... (he says with a mental sigh of relief as he doesn't like/do well with crowds...).  Oh, we're here, turn left here..... (as we're driving through an industrial area....huh?). So I turn with great puzzlement into what turned out to be a reception hall's parking lot..... that was FULL.. and as we made our grand (late) entrance ALL of the adults (50ish) snapped their heads around to see who dared to be late to the party....

She didn't lie, it was only her immediate family (on her dad's side)... ALL of them.  Irish Catholic family (start humming 'Every Sperm is Sacred' here if you would as it helps with the story).  Starting with her grandfather's generation - he was there (assume from here on that anyone mentioned was married with plenty of kids if I don't mention them - at least to her parent's generation), his twin was there, his 4 other siblings were there.  Moving to her parent's generation - all five uncles were there, as were all the uncles/aunts (once removed) from her grandparent's generation (probably close to 25-30 of them).  Then there was our generation...sigh... probably 100-150 kids....mass chaos..... and they all knew each other by sight (no nametags).

As she was the 2nd oldest grandchild & the first female... EVERYBODY in her parent's & above generation wanted to check me out/give me the 3rd degree to make sure that I could take care of the family's princess as she should be taken care of....sigh.  To make matters worse, apparently the genes didn't spread around too much in that family & they (males at least) ALL looked the same (middle aged, balding, etc)..... it was a horrid few hours (honestly, the only thing I remember about that party all these years later is that at the bar I discovered that there were 18liter boxes of wine (boxed wine had just arrived a year or two before) & I thought 'Now that's a hell of a good idea...').  Happy place, I need to think of my happy place.....god it sucked.

Short story getting longer, apparently I passed muster as a year or two later we got married (right around Christmas time so the reception turned into  that year's Christmas party - which is an entirely different (& amusing) story) & have managed to enjoy each other's company for the past 30 years.

/still don't know all their !@#$! names though....
 
2017-06-18 08:52:13 AM  

Goimir: My first day in Pittsburgh. ....


(glad that I previewed this - semi NSFW)




/RIP Flounder
//& Fawn of course....
 
2017-06-18 09:26:22 AM  
Apparently this is the thread where all of the loners and chameleons come out, so I'll be right at home.

Pretty much like most people here, I'm usually always out of my element and I've gotten accustomed to being uncomfortable in most situations I wind up in and just going with the flow.

There was the time I went to a mosque in a bad neighborhood in Orlando (I wasn't familiar with Orlando at the time and I didn't know it would be in a bad neighborhood until after I got there). It was the first and only mosque I've ever seen that had walls and gates, barbed wire on the walls, and metal gating on the windows. As I parked I questioned if this was a good idea to leave my car there. It didn't dawn on me that this was possibly a nation of Islam mosque (they call it a temple but I digress). I remember opening the door and seeing 4 extremely large, burly, black men huddled talking a few feet from me. Immediately I thought that this was definitely a nation of Islam temple and I needed to get out of there (I am not African American or nation of Islam). As the door closed I tensed up and waited for them to say something. They all looked over at me and stopped talking. About 5 good, long seconds passed that felt like forever until they all greeted me warmly and asked where I was coming from (it was 1 in the afternoon on a random day, possibly a weekend). I breathed a large sigh of relief and stayed for a prayer and some time after, finding out it was a pretty diverse mosque mainly run by African Americans in a ghetto. No one messed with them as I was told and the outside look was standard for all buildings in the area. Probably my favorite mosque story because it turned out positive.
 
2017-06-18 09:33:00 AM  
1988. I'm 22 and my brother is 19. It's winter break from college and not having much money, we go to the dollar movie, which is "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka".  We're the first ones in the theater and it looks like we're going to be the *only* people there, until right before the movie starts when a couple of black guys come in and take the seats just across the aisle from us. My brother and I are white as Ivory Snow; and according to our parents at the time, just as pure. The movie starts and we're not sure we should be laughing at some of it, and realizing that not having been exposed to some things, there were jokes I'm sure we missed. Shouldn't have worried.

Get home and told my mother about the experience, at which point she says "You should have stood up and said 'Do you all mind if we laugh at this?'". No, mom. I don't think that's what *we* should have done - even if *you* thought you could get away with it as an inoffensive looking little white lady.

FYI: Did a CTRL+F and saw neither the word "black" or "afr-". Decided that dancing around it was more trouble than it was worth. Flame away.
 
2017-06-18 09:35:03 AM  
There is nothing I hate worse than going to the hairdressers. Forcing me to sit still, talk to someone I don't know and often have nothing in common with makes me want to flee the chair at light speed.
 
2017-06-18 09:37:58 AM  
Was going to post a whole thing about getting thrown into the deep end of the pool in post production in Hollywood (JAZZ HANDS) but then I read TFA and got distracted by "I would go there on Monday nights when things were slow and stumble through a conversation with a "barmanka" named Dorota, who would patiently write down the words in Polish I didn't know for me to study later. Slowly, my language skills improved."

I hope to all that is holy that SOB tipped really well because he could have just taken a farking language class.
 
2017-06-18 09:39:07 AM  
Everywhere I go, everything I do.
 
2017-06-18 09:45:59 AM  
I shall give one about my wife

Early on when we got married I discovered she had a terrible addiction. I found out she liked collecting pampered chef products, and going to their "parties".

One weekend she was invited to one of those "parties" and drove off to visit. When she got there she knocked on the door and was greeted and asked if she was here for the party and which side she was with. She thought the question was if, but went in anyway. Going in she didn't notice any gear in their living room but some people sitting around and she was asked who she was related to and some folks take pictures with her. She headed to the kitchen not thinking anything of the question because hey it's a cooking product party, the kitchen is where the action is. She goes into the kitchen and there in the table is a large wedding cake, she discovers she just barged into a wedding party where everyone was dressed casually. She runs out of the house embarrassed to discover she transposed the last two digits and she was supposed to be across the street.
 
2017-06-18 09:48:43 AM  
I wandered into a Mensa meeting once
 
2017-06-18 09:52:10 AM  
My name's Donnie, so....
 
2017-06-18 09:54:04 AM  
I'm a dorky white guy, I like a lot of different music, and I love going to concerts. Over the years I've found myself at quite a few shows where I didn't fit in. I've been soaked in Faygo by ICP, and sprayed with fake blood by GWAR. I've moshed with skinheads and tripped with deadheads. I've slow-danced with goth chicks and square-danced with rednecks. That's the magic of concerts I guess; even if you don't fit in, you still belong.
 
2017-06-18 10:00:23 AM  
Mrs t and I are liberal progressives but we were both raised low-income small town redneck. We can still easily pass when we're among those folks. Our current social cohort are mainly folks like us- rednecks with college degrees and fairly left-leaning politics who are financially secure but nowhere close to being considered rich.

A dozen years ago Mrs t took a job with a fundraising firm that raised money for the arts in a nearby large city. Her job was literally to schmooz with the elite. Suddenly we're attending events with actual billionaires, making small talk with folks that live in 30,000 sq ft homes, own their own islands and jets, and watched professional sports from their personal luxury suites.

We discovered our betters hang out in secret clubs and galleries hidden in industrial buildings- no lie. One such venue we visited for an event was entered through the back of a tire store. Inside was filled with world class art and wealthy folks sipping champagne in a magnificent architectural space as nice as anyplace I'd ever been.

Needless to say we learned quickly to keep our natural sense of what we found humorous in check. I've eaten many dinners with people i'd only seen on the news. Fortunately most were happy to talk about themselves so I never had to disclose much personal info.

Mrs t had that job for a few years before finding something closer to home that paid a bit better. But we still talk about how weird it was attending those events and wonder how some of the folks we interacted with would've responded if we'd shared some of the details of our early lives- gathering slash from clearcuts to heat our homes in winter, living off food bank government cheese and collecting deposit bottles to make enough money to see a movie.
 
2017-06-18 10:02:13 AM  
It's funny, but I'm usually less uncomfortable the more alien a place I'm in, because I can wave away my usual awkwardness.  I'm not good at the whole general socializing and hanging out with friends thing, but if everyone knows I'm not supposed to be there and don't know how to behave, it's easier.

Regular college dance?  Almost never went, too awkward, too shy.  Gay dance I went to because a friend invited me and my girlfriend?  Fine, had a great time.
Mosque, Buddhist temple, etc?  No problem.  Some random Protestant church?  Ohmygodimdoingsomethingwrong.
Nice restaurant in the US?  Stressful.  Nice one in a country where I mostly don't speak the language?  I end up making animal noises to help another couple at the next table since we shared no language in common but I could at least read the menu and they couldn't.

The last one was hilarious.  Upper crust Austrians really give you weird looks when you're in a Michelin starred restaurant and start mooing and making fish motions but the Italian couple we were"talking" to thought it was hilarious too.
 
2017-06-18 10:03:46 AM  
This one isn't mine, but my dad's, and I'll tell it with his permission:

So, flash back to the early 60's, when my dad decided "Fark it, I'll join the navy"... So he goes to the recruiter, signs up, gets shipped off to boot camp.

Everyone feels like a fish out of water their first day of boot, I know I did (Orlando '91), and his first day was like everyone else's first day at that time... Go get sheared down to bare stubble, get your uniforms, learn all about the mess hall (15 minutes to eat your fine, fine navy chow), and generally get bossed around a lot by people who seem to love screaming at you. right?

So they're all finally getting to their racks for the night, and just after lights out, the typical homesick stuff starts... A few sobs, a few "WTF?"s, and so on, and finally one guy speaks up, the guy who would later become his best friend all through boot and beyond: Isiah Denard... He announces loud enough for everyone to hear him: "My momma told me that I could spend the night with ya'all, but I gotta be back first thing in the morning."...

Everyone cracks up and feels better for the night...

Isiah, I don't know if you're still alive, but my dad certainly loves telling that story about you...
 
2017-06-18 10:11:50 AM  
I am extremely introverted, so I tend to do the tofu route of social interaction, which means hiding in a corner and disguising myself as the garnish and covering myself with layers of more interesting items. It tends to work until someone determined finds me and that's when things get interesting. When that happens, my brain goes into overdrive and I start overanalyzing everything. People say to "be yourself" but when that means "mental train wreck who says the first awkward thing that pops up," it leads to more awkward.
I never understood the "be yourself" bit until I decided to do a stand-up comedy open mic contest. Why I decided to do it, I don't know. I guess it sounded like a good thing to do. If my jokes failed, maybe the audience would laugh at my crash and burn. This was the days before Facebook and YouTube, so that was some comfort.
I arrived at the venue (a packed room in the University Student Union) and I began to get nervous, wishing I could ditch at the last second. The Emcee, who did the local comedy club circuit and the occasional TV special, saw that I was at the edge of an anxiety attack, told me to calm down and gave me a pep talk about his first night and how it bombed. The point was that if you bomb, you bomb and you get over it. Not doing it is the biggest failure.
So when my turn came up, I just turned off the mental filters and just performed. I told my jokes, improvised a few bits that got laughs, and did a pretty good job. I even made it to the finals. Not bad for the first try at it. At the finals, I got 4th place, but there were only four competitors. Two got sick and didn't show up.
So I learned to let things be and to accept life's events as they happen. I still am an introvert and I am socially awkward, but a little bit less so.
And that is my story.
 
2017-06-18 10:50:37 AM  
Many years ago when I was in to some foolish and illegal things a friend and I dropped some LSD one night.  Almost immediately after we did that, the phone rang and it was his uncle who had gotten arrested and needed him to come bail him out.  We figured what the hell, we had about an hour to kill before the fun was going to start so we raced downtown to get this done.  By the time we got down there, parked and then found where we needed to be, things were starting to kick in.  We talk to the first person about where we needed to go and then he asked for our ID.  My friend forgot his license so they only let me go upstairs to bail out this guy (who I never met by the way).

Apparently there was a big fight at a baseball game that day and there were a bunch of old ladies there to bail out their sons and the room is crawling with cops and these ladies.  Its about this time that I start tripping my brains out.  I remember one of the old ladies trying to talk to me but I think I just smiled and laughed.  I swear I was in this room for over an hour while my friend waited downstairs.  Walking out, I still remember the security guard kicked back in his chair with "All in the family" blaring on his little black and white TV, I don't know why, but I swear at the time, this was the funniest thing I had ever seen so at least it ended on a good note.
 
2017-06-18 10:52:14 AM  
I've always enjoyed doing animation or anything involving movement analysis.
A girl who was a Grad Student ahead of me got a job at some Computer Graphics place in NY, that was actually on Long Island in an old School House and they were going to be at SIGGRAPH in Detroit circa 1983. I was in Chicago and just decided on a whim that I would check it out.

I had no car, not much money, no idea where I was going but I knew it was in DETROIT at Cobo Hall and I hopped on Amtrak.

The station I picked to exit left me no where near Cobo Hall. I was in some residential area.  So I walked a lot.  When I found Cobo Hall, they were shutting down for the day so I went to the information counter and asked if they had any idea where the hotel was that "That Company" was staying at.  They had the information and I made my way to the hotel.

When I got there I just hung around the lobby and the bar area asking if anyone knew my friend.
Pretty soon I found someone who knew her and worked for the same company.  They were all new hires and a couple of them had been to the same school I was from.  Turns out my friend was NOT staying at the hotel, but staying with her boyfriend someplace else.  So I was on my own. We trade stories about school.  I tell a few silly stories about my friend that they probably did not know and they loved it.  I also told them about how I ended up in the lobby with them.

Well, end of the day comes along and I don't have a place to sleep.

I do a little begging and pleading and one of the guys agrees to let me sleep on the floor of his room (already has 3 guys in it).

Next morning every gets up bright and early for another day at SIGGRAPH.  The guys say they'll figure out how to get me an Exhibitor pass when we get there.
I manage to get a shower in somehow.
Their "boss" comes by to pick them up and drives them to COBO HALL.
They other guys are all vouching for me and tell him my story of how I got there.
Somehow I get a window seat in the back and while we are driving, I stick my head out the window to let the wind blow dry my hair.  It feels good. I feel good. Life is good.
I notice that the "boss" who is driving, keeps looking in the rear-view mirror at me.
He asks me a couple of questions.  Then he asks "Do you have a job?"

I pull my head back in and sit back.  I roll up the window.
"Yeah" I reply "I sorta do, I work in the film biz".

"Too bad" he says "We could use some more people like you".

I was actually comfortable with everything that had occurred to this point.
All the uncertainty.  Not having a plan. I was Improvising.  I was IN MY ELEMENT.
But the job offer was too much.  I wasn't expecting it, and while I felt flattered, I was VERY uncomfortable.

And THAT is how I got offered a job at the NYIT Computer Graphics Lab and turned it down.
 
2017-06-18 10:55:09 AM  
There was the time that I found myself self on the plane of fire. That place is straight up miserable. Reminded me of a lot of a slightly warmer Pheonix. Only less Hispanics and no one saying "But it's a dry heat!". I didn't stay long. As soon as I found a sentient that didn't up and try and murder me, I got directions the hell out of there. (They were "go left until you see a road sign for Tucson"). I still have blisters on my balls though. I met a fire nymph on the way out. Not much to look at, but she was pretty hot. She seemed really interested, only I didn't have a condom with me. But then I thought "screw it, when's the next time I'll even be through here?" Now it burns when I pee.
 
2017-06-18 10:56:57 AM  
I played baritone sax for 20 years in MoodSwings, a Baltimore big band.  We were hired several times to play the Maryland Hunt Cup gala.  This is the closed party for the swells, not something open to people like the hired help.  As hired help, we were told to sit quietly on the bandstand during the fund raising auction.

This is where we realized we were out of our element.

The "auctioneer" was genial, bumbling, and doubtless very rich.  He exhorted the crowd to bid generously on things like a weekend at Bunny and Pookie's condo on the Inner Harbor, a cruise aboard Lex and Kingsley's motor yacht, etc.  After all, it was for an excellent cause: refurbishing of the Hunt Cup stables.  Yep, a different world, filled with folks in pastel jackets, holding drinks with umbrellas.
 
2017-06-18 10:57:15 AM  
I built a canoe in my garage about a dozen years ago, but it was was really unstable. It was possible to paddle around without tipping it, but wasn't easy. So I built some bolt - on pontoons for it to stabilize it. They were streamlined and made it super stable, but the extra weight made it harder to paddle and maneuver.

I'd been sharing the stories and pictures with my boss at the time and he mentioned that he had an old 3.5 hp motor that might work. And so I borrowed his motor and I built a mount for it between the pontoon braces. It worked really well at low speeds but going flat out, the pontoon, being lower on one side due to the weight of the motor, would spray water into the boat and fill it up pretty rapidly.

I figured if I could reshape the pontoons, I could probably make them so it wouldn't do that. So I poured foam in a mold around each pontoon, carved them into a shape I though would work, fiberglassed and gel coated the skin, and I had two larger pontoons with a flattish bottom that I thought might be able to get this canoe to plane on the water. But no. Same problem with the water spraying into the boat too. So I added foam 'fins' of my own design to the inside face of each pontoon to redirect the water, carved and gel coated them to match, and that's about as far as the canoe modifications got to. It was a strange looking thing that I could tie to my car's roof.

Then some friends came to visit and wanted to go canoeing so we found a place on the river that rented canoes and I strapped my thing to the roof of my new beetle. That was a horrible car but it looked pretty hilarious with this contraption on top of it. Getting to  the canoe place, I'm driving down a dirt road that is lined on both sides with motorcycles. Hundreds of them. Getting farther in, I find hundreds of bikers staring at me and my stupid car and this crazy thing on my roof. Starting to get some weird looks but I can't do anything else but keep going forward into this sea of bikers, hoping there might be somewhere to park or at least turn around.

It turned out it was a restaurant on the river that has biker days on weekends. I found a place to park and everyone nearby was working their way over to my car. The first guy over asks simply, "What in the hell is that?"

And so I explained it to him and to the rest of the crowd that was surrounding the car. Their eyes lit up and they all couldn't wait to see it. I got pats on the back, handshakes, it was great. They helped me carry it to the river, watched as I assembled everything and got it going and cheered when we came back. It was great. We saw a bunch of alligators too.
 
2017-06-18 11:00:47 AM  
I'm weird and an introvert.  Seems like I'm always out of my element.
 
2017-06-18 11:11:51 AM  
m.popkey.co
ya'all are slippin'
 
2017-06-18 11:15:17 AM  
One time I clicked on the Politics tab. I still have nightmares.
 
2017-06-18 11:15:50 AM  

Fat Old Broad: I'm weird and an introvert.  Seems like I'm always out of my element.


Uhh..... I came here to post pretty much the same thing.
 
2017-06-18 11:23:45 AM  
extras.mnginteractive.com
 
2017-06-18 11:45:24 AM  
One particular moment stands out for me...several families vacationing in rv's in san felipe, mexico, 1984. I had brought along my tin boat and trailer for the fun of it. Motor forward/reverse dog started slipping. Earlier i had been offered a couple kilos of shrimp at a house, and noticed they had a welder and machine shop as well- perfect!  Wasnt too far from camp so i set off to get my part welded up and machined down. I get near where im going when it hits me- i am a gringo, look totally like a gringo beach tourist, and i am totally, completely out of my element, and would make a fine mark for anyone who would want to mug a gringo.  Enter jorge- a mexican eagle scout in his vw van , spotted me as a gringo out of his element, introduced himself in good english, and asked me what i was doing here. I explained what i was up to, and he took me to the house, hung out with me while we waited, and took me back to club de pesca, all to prevent the gringo from being mugged. Neither would he accept money for all his trouble. "Do a good turn daily" really does mean something...
 
2017-06-18 11:45:46 AM  
Most of my "out of my element" moments involve tragedy and loss, so to hell with this.
 
2017-06-18 12:18:39 PM  

some_beer_drinker: [m.popkey.co image 500x264]
ya'all are slippin'


HaywoodJablonski: My name's Donnie, so....


Ahem....
 
2017-06-18 12:21:33 PM  
We got the call there was 5 year old twins that needed placement. 3 days later they are sleepy by over. 2 weeks later they are living with us. 6months later their older sister moves in.

I never had kids before. Really didn't 'uncle' much

They haven't left.

Happy Father's Day
 
2017-06-18 12:29:00 PM  
So I'm sitting at home watching a hurricane approach.  It's wavering between Cat 1 and Cat 2 and I'm wavering between staying or evacuating.  A friend came over in his bathing suit and with a huge grin said "Let's go for a swim!"  I mentioned the approaching hurricane.  I mentioned that we were on the outer edge of it.  I pointed out, pointedly, how rough the water was.  He just replied "This is when it's fun!"
   Now, I'm not an idiot.  But I know my friend is also not an idiot.  Or so I thought.  I put on my suit and off we went to the 2nd street entrance.  We jump in and he swims out to a depth where I can no longer touch the bottom, even in the trough between the (really big and rough) waves.  I go to duck under a wave and suddenly I am sucked into an undertow.  I had heard of undertows but after 30 years of swimming in open waters had never encountered one.  So a part of me thought they were mythological.  Nope; they are real.
   I had taken a good breath before ducking under the wave and knew to turn 90 degrees to the current and try to swim out calmly.  I tried all of these, telling myself the refrain that I will swim underwater until I am above water.  But I'm running out of breath.  Meanwhile the waves are tumbling me and I no longer even know which way is up.
   Thankfully, my friend figured out what had gone wrong pretty quickly, found me, and pulled me up.  After a long rest on the shore I decided that hurricane swimming just wasn't for me.  It was exciting, but a little too.  I went out of my depth for sure.
 
2017-06-18 12:41:06 PM  
When I lived in Japan, I took a trip alone to Tokushima.  Tokushima is very rural, with very little development compared to Honshu, and no English anywhere (although I spoke Japanese).  I met with a lady from Australia (who didn't speak Japanese) and we had so much fun getting into trouble and not being sure how we would get out of it.  The bus ran three times a day, the train stopped running early, too.  We hiked a mountain, saw some natural whirlpools, found a Bunraku museum and even saw a play (even though it was an off day, they did a performance for another group and we lucked into being there).  We even crossed a vine bridge and went down into the gorge.  It was amazing and fun and a completely different way of seeing a country like Japan, which usually looks very flashy and modernized compared to the rest of the world.  Would love to go back again one day.
 
2017-06-18 12:42:58 PM  

Recoil Therapy: some_beer_drinker: [m.popkey.co image 500x264]
ya'all are slippin'

HaywoodJablonski: My name's Donnie, so....

Ahem....


I am the walrus.
 
2017-06-18 12:46:22 PM  
For Father's day, I'll be out of my element.

I'm taking the kids to hang out with their grandpa (my wife's dad). We're all going fishing on the river.

Except... No. Beer. Allowed.

Help! How am I going to survive fishing with no beer?!?
 
2017-06-18 01:25:49 PM  
I was nineteen, had just moved to a new city to go to college, and was literally "fresh off the farm". A Texas redneck country kid suddenly living in a house with three Dallas suburbs guys. I'm pretty sure I terrified their parents, because I brought guns, and bows and knives and axes and taxidermied wildlife, and a huge freezer to stuff full of wild game, and a great big BBQ pit to cook it all on, and a canoe. The canoe is the focus of this story, but I felt the need to set the stage first. I was a glimpse into a foreign world for those gated-community kids, and they thought I was crazy. I enjoyed the attention, and a process of escalation took place.

It had rained for several days, and a huge drainage ditch at the end of our street was flooded, and was flowing with a pretty good current. The canoe was a battered 15-ft aluminum Grumman, that I pulled out of a scrap heap and taught myself to weld aluminum with it to make it seaworthy. Ish. I had actually never taken it out on active waters, I had just paddled around a lake near home, but again, process of escalation, if those lily-livered city fairies wanted to see a redneck being a wild redneck, well by gawd, lets go paddle the drainage ditch!
There was about 130 yards of straight, open ditch, and then a big culvert under a road. My plan was to get out at the culvert, walk the canoe across the road, and keep going if I felt like it. The water was fast, real fast, and when I got to the culvert, the bow of the canoe got sucked under immediately. The force of the water ripped me straight through the culvert, and I just remember barely having the presence of mind to suck a huge lungful of air, and then lay back in the canoe, and used my hands to walk along the roof of the culvert. I popped out the other side in my swamped canoe, and just lay back breathing the delicious air again, and presently noticed some frantic screaming, interspersed with my name. The gods of wild redneckery had smiled on me, and gave me one last gift in that episode because when I sat up to look back at my housemates, my paddle was floating right next to me, so I grabbed it, swung it around with a flourish, as if I had totally meant to do that, let out a yee-haw at the top of my lungs and said "that was great! Who's next?!"

I still get a bit queasy to think of just how screwed I would have been if something had been blocking that culvert, even just the tiniest bit. If I hadn't slid through there like a greased pig, that would have become a wet grave, quickly.
 
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