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Eunuch in a Harem

A eunuch in a harem can observe it, can analyze it, and can describe it, but he can't do it himself. He just doesn't have something everybody else has.

I am taking a weekly cooking class, adult-education classes being favourite ways of meeting people. Most of the other students are already partnered but new friendships ought to be available.

And I see it happening. I see groups of people chatting during and after class, talking about their spouses, their families, their jobs, their apartments, or whatever. I see friendships being formed.

Yet I cannot form them. If I strike up a conversation with someone, it doesn't last long. We both run out of things to say. I try the usual advice (ask the other person about their family, job, etc) but never get more than brief, cursory, uninterested answers.

However, other people around me are having conversations and are visibly enjoying each other's company. I don't know how they do it. Sometimes I listen in on others' conversation, and it doesn't sound all that different from mine. But there is an edge there, a spontaneity and looseness, that I utterly lack.

After class some people walk back to the parking lot together. I go alone. It feels almost a relief to be away from them, and yet the painful loneliness and longing for companionships is ever-present. As is the sense of failure.

I am convinced there is something driving other people away, I have little idea what. Maybe it is the way I talk, or walk, or say things. But as each attempt to get to know someone flounders, the greater the sense of anxiety I feel.

It is hard for me to approach people in the first place. A giant weariness lies over me, a tiredness at the struggle to open the silent mouth and say something, anything. And failing at it hurts even worse. I might conclude that this is not a good group for me, but I see others chatting, of both genders, and I sadden.

This has happened so many times I have lost count. Talking to another human being, one on one, just seems something I am utterly incapable of doing, lacking knowledge that many preschoolers have already mastered.

Soc-phob, Oct. 17, 1997