For a very long time I have always had quite a seriously nasty problem with unresolved anger and impatience. In the sense that I’ve extremely often been treated entirely nightmarishly unfairly by precisely the very people whose trust I should have had the most significant right to count on, I’m no different than anyone else. To my chagrin, though, I tend frequently to get excessively angry. Somehow my ire has never come out in any overly drastic way. I have always had quite an extremely seriously nasty problem with hypersensitivity to noise. Over the years I’ve frequently told the story of the time I worked in the Sales Processing department at Citicorp Retail Services on Long Island. There was a department right next to ours where the people there absolutely constantly yelled and, for some insane reason, laughed incessantly without its serving any known purpose whatsoever. My notoriously bitter anger and resentment, combined with utter impatience, really seethed entirely out of control. Ultimately I should like to think that I can be considered quite an exceptionally good natured, jolly good fellow in general but when my much nastier character defects start kicking into gear, watch out, bucko! I very much like to think that I’ve always given each individual each and every single possible opportunity to treat me with a sufficient minimum degree of respect, and that I’ve always done quite a sufficiently reasonably good job of humoring everyone about all his quirks and attitude problems. There’s that nasty side of me, though, a sort of evil alter ego, that keeps bouncing around somewhere inside me. Under most circumstances I can be counted on to be quite an eminently lovable neurotic. The very good news is that anger and impatience are like fear, ambition, envy and other character traits in the sense that if they aren’t acted upon they don’t count. If someone doesn’t take advantage of a character strength of his, he doesn’t get credit. If he doesn’t succumb to a weakness, he doesn’t get any blame. That’s why I try quite hard not to act very much on my anger.
For as far back as I can remember I’ve always been a bit of a square in certain ways. I’ve never felt sufficiently comfortable with either new people or new experiences. I’ve always referred to my big move from Jackson Heights to Lindenhurst, at twelve years old, as the perfect example of how hard it is for me to deal with change, though I’ve gotten much better at it since then. Because I’ve never liked sports or animals, and I’ve never been married or had kids, that leaves me with a shortage of things in common with others. It always helps, when meeting someone new, to be able to establish a common bond. In my dealings with new people I’ve always been strictly a speak-when-spoken-to kind of guy. If someone wants to say hello to me, I can handle it but I tend to shy away from making any attempt at an overture. I’m at my best in a classroom, workplace, bowling alley or any other environment where people are forced, by definition, to associate with each other anyway. It always helps when one’s sources of conversation are intrinsically built into his circumstances. A common responsibility is just as good as a common interest in forging new friendships. Another major advantage is when I get to meet someone who’s already a friend of Mary Anne’s, Steve’s or of one of my cousins. I’ve always been good with those collaterally connected characters. Do former classmates and teachers, when they come back into one’s life, count as new friends? Someone like that isn’t new because I already knew him long ago. At the same time, though, he’s entirely new because of our having yet to establish a current relationship. As I said earlier, it always helps to have something in common. That’s why I always like to try to keep my eyes and ears open just in case someone either is left handed, went to Catholic school, dreads left turns or is somehow otherwise in cahoots with something I can identify with. By now I’ve grown quite comfortable with both my supposed lack of popularity and my feeling of discomfort with new people. I’ve learned to attribute things like that to my always having been such a distinctive character. For obvious reasons I never even think of presuming to unleash entirely too much of my colorful side on someone new. My obnoxious habits, and distinctive tastes and character defects require quite a lot of preparation. Long ago I learned to save them for only the people who’ve already gotten quite accustomed to having me around. To a large degree my attempts at making new friends are at their best when I go about things with a sense of moderation. It pays not to go too crazy. I know what all my strengths and weaknesses are and can easily recognize all the things I shouldn’t do in the company of someone new. Things always work out reasonably well for me anyway. It’s just so terribly annoying for me to have to deal with the beginning of anything.