Galoot Gets Out Of The House

My wife, Jaq, has a friend named Diane. No, this isn't a setup. She has lots of friends because, unlike me, she actually desires to leave the house. I'm a volunteer people-hater who'd rather stay in. Socializing scares me. So I don't have any friends. I know, I know... that surprises you because I'm so cuddly and warm online, but it's true.

Diane's husband's name is Randy. Randy owns his own business, called BootRite Computers. He's a geek. A serious geek. I thought I was a geek until I met him. He's even less social than I am, but he fakes it because he has to work with other people. So Jaq and Diane commiserate and figure that Randy and I should meet.

"You'll *like* him, Sean! The two of you have so much in common!" "Why would I like someone who's just like me?" "Just trust me, dear."

So she forces me to commit to going over to Di and Randy's for dinner in a week. Seriously. She forces me. She pouts.

Fast forward a week. I've tried everything I could think of to get sick or injure myself in a non-obvious fashion, but nothing works. Just before we're scheduled to leave I cut myself shaving. I scream like a girl, hoping she'll run into the bathroom and see the tiny droplet of blood and rush me to the hospital rather than force me to go over to another couple's house. She just yells from the kitchen, "I know what you're doing! It won't work." I sigh and dab at the cut with a styptic pencil and finish up.

She drives. I don't think she trusts me to not "accidentally" go off the road.

We get there and Jaq says, "Sean, this is Randy. Randy, Sean. Di and I are going to head out for a bit. Talk to each other." And they leave.

I've never come so close to wanting a divorce.

So Randy and I stand there in the front hallway just looking at each other, sizing each other up. He's a short, skinny guy wearing a Mr. Rogers sweater. I'm a tall skinny guy wearing something with holes in it from a thrift shop in the early 90s. He's got geeky Brylcreemed short hair. I have a geeky ponytail. He's wearing old-man slippers just like I wear around the house. He's got a dollar store digital watch. We've both got prominent Adam's apples.

I think, "Okaaaaaay, he looks geeky and backward enough, but..." And we just stand there.

He finally says, "Wanna see my computers?"

Now *that's* an opening line! None of this "So, your wife tells me..." or "Did you watch the game..." or "What do you drink?" shit. Straight to the nerdy stuff.

"Yeah, okay."

So he leads me into his work room, and it's positively ANAL! This guy is an obsessive neat freak. He builds and supports computers for a living, and he's got a couple of those plastic units with little clear drawers in them along one wall. Inside one is a fistful of jumpers, and in another is a bunch of case screws. There's a dozen stacks of cables up top, all neatly bundled together with twist ties, and over there is a stack of network cards, still in their anti-static bags, one atop the other and arranged in such a fashion that they couldn't possibly topple. I take mental notes in case I ever have that many case screws. The room is immaculate, which is amazing given he runs his entire business out of it and it's the size of a closet.

I'm impressed. Anal-retentive neatness makes me happy. I'm not that neat, but I appreciate obsessiveness. I say "jumpers" under my breath and nod approvingly, then turn to the computer.

At this point I think a lot of people would say "Cool PC. What games you got on it?" or "Neat screen saver" or, if they're trying to impress, "Is that Windows XP Home or Pro?" but I know he's watching my reaction to see if I meet his own geek requirements. I just nod once and say "Tidy room."

He beams one of the biggest smiles I've ever seen. So do I.

This is how people with Social Anxiety Disorder bond.

"Is that a DOS 3.1 manual?" I say, pointing.

"Yeah. I've still got the disks."

"Backed up, right? Bit-rot."

"Of course."

"Good. Do you still use it?"

"No. But I might need it some day." Good answer. "I use batch files for work, though." And he nods at a neat stack of floppies. I glance over, and the stack is atop a clear box full of 5 1/4" disks. I move closer and lean over. The label in front reads "Quattro Pro 1". My eyebrows go up. I'm impressed.

Now it's time for him to test me. "Better than 1-2-3, eh?"

"It 'Surpasses' 1-2-3."

He smiles. I passed the test.

By now I'm on the verge of caring what someone other than my wife thinks. I can't help it. There's something about Brylcreem and motherboard jumpers. That scares me but I plug on. Straightening up, I turn and move to the door. I don't want him to think I like him just for his hardware.

Just then, Jaq and Diane come back from wherever they disappeared to. They look worried as they come in, but neither of us is crying so they relax a bit. Jaq leans over and whispers, "Told ya." I nod.

to be continued ...
Hi Galoot. This is CynLynn (Cynthia Lynn from Worth) and I'm posting anonymously because that thing wanted a password.

I loved your story and can't wait to see how you and your new little friend work out. ;) Hey, I'm a loner, too. I have not made one new friend here in California and really don't plan to unless I find someone I can really click with. It has to be that way with me, too.

Fortunately the hubby has a big family and so my social skills haven't gone to the dogs yet.

I'll be back to read the rest of the story. Later gator.
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