Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Funny T-Shirts Made Me A Better Person

By Ben Mosley

I am what some people would call an introverted, computer-obsessed, elitist, nerd. Some people call me that, but most other people call me much worse things. I have several friends, but we do all of our socializing on the Internet. I play lots of games on the computer, I eat lots of junk food, and I wear lots of funny t-shirts. That is me in a nutshell, and it doesn't get much deeper than that. I was an angry guy because I felt the world didn't understand me, but I never actually tried to go out into that world and introduce myself. My loneliness was mostly my own fault.

Every Thursday, my parents went out on a date night. I don't begrudge them that at all, but now there's a new twist. I was previously an only child, but 6 months ago my mom had a little girl and they haven't had a date night since well before she was born. I knew what was coming when mom knocked on my door. They wanted to put my little sis' baby monitor in my room, feed her when she woke up, and they would pay me for watching her. I could not be bothered because I have important things to do with my friends, especially on Thursdays. I could tell they were disappointed and they never asked me again. She didn't even say anything about the especially foul funny t-shirt I was wearing.

I busied myself doing what I always do for the next couple of weeks, which means I sat in my room and got busy wasting my last summer before college on a computer. One day, my mother politely knocked on my door and stepped in wearing a really nice new dress. She quickly said, "I know you won't eat it, but dinner is in the fridge. Tina is here. Try not to get in her way so she can take care of the baby, okay? Love you!" Just like that she was gone, leaving me surprised and with a strange girl in the house. I sat there, just staring out into space for a long time. I gathered my courage, put on one of my better funny t-shirts, crept downstairs, and saw what had to be Tina. She was perfection. A little geeky and completely charming. I loved her.

I'm not sure she could hear my heart breaking to pieces for her, but she turned around and smiled and patted the seat near her. We talked for a minute, or maybe an hour. Time got all crazy for me because I just wanted to keep drinking her up with my eyes. It seemed so unfair when the baby started crying, but I let her go. She turned around and said she wanted to hang out again, if I wanted...and that she would like to see more of these funny t-shirts I had. As soon as she was out of sight, I hopped right up and left my folded shirt on the couch with a quickly-scrawled note that said, "Please keep it."

The thing about computer-addicted nerds is that actual human interaction is extremely difficult. I am trained to communicate through text, which means I get plenty of time to formulate a response and be as entertaining as I possibly can. In real conversation, I get overwhelmed very easily. As such, I just could not bring myself to even look at her again, let alone talk to her. My anxiety was way too high. All I could do was leave her a clean, nicely folded shirt each time she came to babysit my little sister. She seemed to like funny t-shirts, and I wanted to make her smile. It's all I could do. I kept expecting a very polite rejection note, but I never got one. She just kept coming and sweetly taking these funny t-shirts. It only took a few weeks for me to finally realize that she may actually want to me to talk to her.

That was how it all began, how I fell in love with my wife and how I finally came out of my shell...all because of some funny t-shirts and her laugh. I have never been happier, and she was so much more well-adjusted than me. She introduced me to good people and good music, and to a social life I never would have had the courage to find if it hadn't been for her. Years later, I asked my mother on a whim if she had planned my encounter with Tina on purpose. She smiled and said, "I needed a babysitter. I needed my son to live outside of the Internet. I'm just glad I got both out of the deal. Money well spent."

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