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Weekly Column by Andy Grieser
Column by Andy Grieser

July 26, 2002

I don’t know when I became antisocial. I have a large core group of friends. And I’m generally outgoing. Hell, in high school I was the guy who always said “hey, guy” to people in the halls, because I could rarely be bothered to remember all of their names. (Yeah, I’m not proud of it.)

And yet somewhere along the way, I just stopped being social.

Normally, this wouldn’t bother me. I have plenty of friends left over, and talk to most daily thanks to the power of cheese… errr, e-mail. I’d be content to be a curmudgeonly young man, complaining about kids these days and shooing them off the lawn.

But see, my birthday party is tomorrow night, and aside from one old school friend (yo, Chainsaw!) driving in from out of town and a fellow-Texan married couple (the female half worked for me at, all of the friends are my girlfriend’s. Seriously, she’s friendly enough for the both of us, and so has a large circle of friends here despite having lived in Chicago only six months longer than me. Yeah, all these people know me, but it’s really an odd proposal to be celebrating my birthday with a dozen or so folks who don’t even know whether I wear boxers or briefs.

Plus, I’m uncomfortable shaking down this crowd for birthday presents. I mean, Frank Gambino might be proud, but Miss Manners certainly wouldn’t.

To be sure, being antisocial has its disadvantages. For one, see above comment about not shaking down party guests for presents. What? Okay, fine, I wouldn’t really. But I’d think about it.

For another, it prevented me from developing what coulda been a great friendship. Sars of and I had lunch with a few other then-Hissyfitters during my New York days, and she and I constantly played the “we should get a beer”/ “yeah, we really should” game. Were I not a churlish sociaphobe, I’d have actually set something up and we’d have spent days debating AP style versus Chicago style and laughing at bad TV shows.

I’m worried that’s about to happen again with my current co-workers. Yeah, there are good reasons for separating one’s social life from one’s workaday life, but outside work I have no way to meet people. (Other than through the girlfriend, of course.) Yet there are some interesting people here, and I’d love to just sit and chat over coffee one day. Will I? Probably not. I just don’t work that way.

So, there it is. I’m a troll. I’ll be a good host tomorrow night, and I’ll probably have enough alcohol to make me friendly. You never know – maybe it’s time I stopped being Scrooge, and the ghosts of birthday present (see what I did there?) will open my heart and render me capable of befriending people at the drop of a hat.

Now get off my damn lawn.

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