MM... For some reason, this picture reminds me of... loneliness. Isolation. One might even say, alienation. Not an unfamiliar feeling.

've always been somewhat of a loner. Now, I don't mean "loner" in the sense of, "He was a quiet guy, kept to himself. I can't believe he slaughtered that entire family and raped the gerbils." No. More along the lines of, "Why am I the only one sitting at home on Friday night?"

here are two reasons, really. For one, I can't help feeling that inviting friends to partake in an activity assigns me full personal responsibility in ensuring that their experience is as smooth and euphoric as possible. If they get bored, I get crushed. This can be very stressful. Given that I tend to prefer non-traditional activities anyway, my recreational regimen has simply evolved over time to be almost exclusively solo. Just like a military man, stationed on a base without any women, will develop a routine of... well... I'll leave the completion of that analogy as an exercise for the reader. Not to mention the military man.

he second reason is that I am typically uncomfortable meeting new people. It's not misanthropy so much as a kind of anthropophobia. I am typically terrified by groups of unfamiliar people, and the act of socializing can be the emotional equivalent of performing striptease Lambada with a hornets' nest. On some occasions, however, it can be great fun. I haven't yet figured out what catalyzes that reaction.

n spite of all this, I can sometimes be surprisingly unconcerned about making a fool of myself in public. I'm probably too shy to come to your party, but you might catch me singing along with the Muzak in the supermarket with an impromptu bok-choy microphone, or giving a hearty, meaningless "thumbs-up" to unknown passing cars. I also have a "website".

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