We introverts spend a great deal of time in our introvert-holes, not even noticing that we haven’t had actual, in-person interaction with a fellow member of the human race until we perhaps notice a major introvert-hole disturbance, such as a sudden lack of cookies. This forces reflection upon the outside world.

  • …Where are the cookies?
  • Did I eat the cookies?
  • What about that other person/people I live with– did he/she/they eat the cookies?
  • Is this person/one of these people likely to replenish the cookie supply?
  • If not, why not?
  • What am I going to do?
  • This is why I hate people.
  • I don’t understand why I don’t have more friends.
  • I would feel better about all this if I had a cookie.
  • …Where are the cookies?

And so on. You see now why so many of us are basket cases, why we hide behind doors and spouses and dogs and birds at parties. There’s always a crisis, and when the crisis happens, there are maybe three people we can call, and at least two of them probably had an outsized role in perpetuating the crisis.

Part of the problem is that since introverts are usually polite with all but willing to depart the home premises for precious few, we tend to cultivate separate worlds of friends, unless you’re from Cincinnati’s West Side, which is one gigantic inter-related world covered in Skyline dip. The Venn diagram of all West Side relationships is a single, neat circle, and in the center of that circle is a weekend grade school basketball tournament attended by your dentist’s second cousin who is also the ref as well as your sister’s homecoming date in 1992.

So as an introvert cultivated in this societal collapsed star of a voting precinct, most of my relationships were cemented in high school and college. There’s little collision in the groups in which I circulate, because I did the two things West Siders don’t do: I left. And then I returned with exactly zero children.

This leaves me with a random assortment of separate universes, partially because I am also a living contradiction of interests and inclinations. I go to yoga and I also attend big ol’ traddy Latin Masses. No one else who regularly attends yoga manages to wander into your local TLM. No one who goes to Traditional Latin Mass hangs a yoga mat next to her chapel veils. I am alone in both and the sole connecting node between either.

For the most part, this is fine– preferable even–but functioning as this whole galaxy of weirdness apart takes its toll during baseball season. Yoga people don’t like sports (competition, ew) unless they’re in them and clenching their muscly ways through class during a rehab. TLM people don’t like pro sports because every moment dedicated to batting averages means less time for internet arguments about the Council of Trent. I don’t expect the yoga and TLM worlds to meet, but the occasional rope bridge would be nice.

Other people, I am told– normal people– float in and out of friend groups with the seasons. There are folks who see family members and maintain internet contact far more often in the spring and summer because did you see the near no-hitter? And then they’re nodding acquaintances from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day. I was stunned when, in the year I spent trailing Ohio State’s marching band, the members laughed when I asked if they hung together in the off-season. No, they said. Why would they do that? We live together for five months and then we maybe wave on the quad, they said. We need a break.

That I can understand. But baseball being the eternal entity that it is–what’s the point of the season if you don’t spend the off-season talking about the season and conjecturing on the next season?– it is odd to me that the closeness shaped over box scores and the slow thud on the glove dictates the terms of the relationship. Is it the buffer (“Even when my dad and I couldn’t talk about anything else, we could talk about baseball), or is it the container (“My baseball friends are my family”)?

One of you has got to be one of these normal people, hopping between these colliding and departing worlds. Which is it? Both? I’ll accept both. And also some cookies.

20 Responses

  1. Jim Walker

    It was all (Reds) baseball all the time in the small town 40-50 miles NE of Cincy where I grew up. Summer nights were spent sitting in a shadowy circle under back yard apple tree listening to the Reds on radio.

    As the post season talk ran dry, college basketball offered some respite to fill the winter until spring training talk took over. Ours was a split family there. I was on the OSU side, my dad and some others were more inclined toward the Bearcats or even the Dayton Flyers and later the Musketeers as my dad despite being a devout Baptist completed a graduate degree at Xavier.

    Nowadays I still follow the Reds but it is solitary pursuit other than the time I spend here or on Twitter. Buckeyes Football and the Blue Jackets at times rival the Reds for my attention. At the peak of the Reds run this summer, while I watched the Reds on TV almost every night, I spent nearly as much time some days chasing the NHL silly season online. And on the weekends I tend to have 2 screens running when the Bucks football and CBJ overlap.

    Friends? That graduate degree my dad got at Xaiver vaulted him from the classroom to the principal’s office and beyond professionally. That journey started with a move 50 miles west between my sophomore and junior years of high school. For whatever reasons, I’ve never reached back and being off to college in short order after the move, neither did I make any lasting friends in the new surroundings.

    I stay in steady touch with several guys I worked with and also have side “conversations” via Twitter or email with some of the folks here at Redleg Nation both post contributors and commentors. Add in my wife and the dogs and I am very happy.

    • Mark Moore

      Jim,

      You are definitely one of the “forum family” to me. I always appreciate your insight, comments, and responses. And I totally get the “devout Baptist” father thing as mine was a minister for all of my life up until he left us 35 years ago.

      • Jim Walker

        My dad more than once made a comment that the Baptists and Jesuits tend to agree on a lot of things until you tell one of them that the other believes the same πŸ˜‰

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Well… sometimes I think Jesuits and Baptists circle so far around that they meet on the back side.

        Neither of them like Catholics very much.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thanks so much for sharing this. Many a lasting friend has been made on summer nights were spent sitting in a shadowy circle under back yard apple tree listening to the Reds on radio.

  2. Mark Moore

    I’m not an introvert, yet this current world we’ve been in makes me appreciate you folk all that much more. And I do feel like there is a tangible connection to people on this forum, especially when we’re digesting and commenting on a “Baseball is Life” piece. You share so much of yourself and you connect with us in non-baseball ways, usually because of or through baseball. I, for one, greatly appreciate that. I always look forward to your thoughtful responses to comments as well.

    As we move through what is left of the baseball season (quite the statement by the Atlanta Baseball Club – I’m attached indirectly because of who they played in the post-season and my daughter’s summer job). Hard to lose Morton that way, but what grit continuing to pitch until the pain just wouldn’t let him do it. I even broke my rule about TV whilst in bed to watch the final outs of that game

    That’s all important because of the colliding and departing we will likely see from our Reds roster in just a few short weeks. I can only hope we don’t see the same colliding and departing of the entire 2022 season because the billionaires and (mostly) millionaires couldn’t come together.

    • Jim Walker

      Mark,
      Agree with most everything you said except I have become a Dodgers fan because my wife has a brother, daughter, grandsons, and nieces/ nephews in who live in SoCal. There is just something about that crazy place that I more comfortable there than anywhere else. But I still stream the Reds when we are there.

      Bet you are like me in wondering what became of folks who were regulars here then seemingly disappeared overnight.

      • Scott C

        Say It ain’t so Jim. You can’t be a Reds fan and a Dodger fan at the same time.

      • Jim Walker

        @scott>> I never thought it would turn out that way but it has. However only a Dodgers fan when it can’t hurt the Reds chances (slim as they usually are)? Guess that’s like MBE mixing yoga and TLM.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Much, much appreciated. Baseball is a proper connecting node πŸ™‚

  3. Scott C

    One Sunday morning I rolled over in bed and told my wife that I wasn’t going to church. She said you need to go to church. I said, “NO I don’t want to go, I don’t want to talk to anyone and want to be alone and besides no one there likes me.” She said, “You have to go you are the minister!” Obviously having been in the ministry for 48 years I had to force my way out of my introverted shell, but I can certainly relate to anyone not wanting to go and “socialize.” But outside of church, where over the years I have made a ton of lifelong friends, Sports have been the things that helped me get out. Baseball and golf and my officiating softball and volleyball. And the cool thing is you don’t even have to know someone well to strike up a kinship with them. After retiring last year and moving to Florida I have been working part time at a local Home Depot. Monday I guy came in wearing a Cincinnati Reds T-shirt, that gave us an immediate connection, and we talked for several minutes, he was from Western Hills, went to school at Elder and took drivers Ed at Bicks. (I taught there for a year) That all came about because of a Reds connection. And Msary Beth, if I could I would send you some cookies.

    • Jim Walker

      Agree. A Menard’s opened just about a mile from us during the pandemic and I keep trying to decide if I want to go over there and get on part time πŸ˜‰

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      If you happened to teach *me* at Bicks… I am so, so sorry. I hope you’re not the one I drove up onto the traffic island in the middle of Glenway Avenue.

      • Scott C

        Oh No! That was you? Just kidding. I taught in 1977-1978. I don’t think you are old enough for me to have taught you. I did however have some scary moments. Not so much with teens as with older people who had never driven.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        I was busy being tiny. But I’m glad you missed me as your student!

  4. Daytonnati

    “Hell is other people” – Sartre

    I get it, they’re exhausting πŸ™‚

    I am a closet introvert married to an extrovert from a large Irish Catholic family. I love them all, but there is that moment when you’re driving home from the last holiday gathering and realize you have zero social obligations looming. An endless series of unplanned days and nights. Oh, the books you’ll read, the movies you’ll watch! It is glorious. Like the last day of school!

    I read once that Johnny Carson was an extreme introvert, which is ironic considering his career. His secret, in gatherings large and small, was to ask other people about themselves. Nothing they love talking about more πŸ™‚ I’ve done it for years.

    • Jim Walker

      Yeah, except I am actually kind of bored today. It is autumnally gray and chilly. I am not that much into the World Series. The Jackets don’t play again till Friday; and, college football is in its midweek lull.

      The strength of baseball for fans when all is said and done is that their team plays a game 6 or 7 nights a week from April through September. The players talk about being able to get right back on the horse after a bad game; but, I think it is often just as important to we fans that they have that opportunity.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Carson, Jerry Seinfeld, and… well… me are the same personality type, as are many performers and comedians. We are “performing introverts,” those who are comfortable in only three places: With our tiny, trusted inner circle, completely alone, or on a stage— the bigger the crowd, the better. Lately personality experts have begun emphasizing that introverts aren’t necessarily shy, although some are. What makes an introvert an introvert is our need to be alone and recharge after being around others, no matter how small the group. Extroverts, on the other hand, recharge by spending time with others.

      • jazzmanbbfan

        I would agree that not all introverts are shy. I’m most definitely an introvert but I’m also not shy. However, I live alone by choice and before I retired, after a five days of being around people in a stressful environment, I often needed the weekend to recharge and get ready for another five days of dealing with people.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        one of my own, jazzman, although I don’t think I could make five days! I’m impressed.