Recently, I was befriended on facebook by an old friend from high school named Neil Kingsley. Actually, it’s a stretch to call Neil an “old friend”...because in fact I don’t remember us ever having a conversation (unless you consider “hey, how’s it going,” muttered while passing someone in the hall with your head down, a conversation). It was a small school and everyone knew everyone; we all ended up at the same parties...but to say we were friends would be exaggerating. What’s peculiar about this is that, had we somehow managed to cross the great divide of folkies (me) vs. rockers (him) or poets (me again) vs. jocks (him, if memory serves) we probably would really have been friends.
40-something years later, we have similar musical passions (rootsy Americana), and similar band experiences (“joyous, danceable mediocrity”—his words). After all, Neil was in The Mayhems, the Beatles/Stones cover band that played at all the parties. I was the lone folkie chick with a Martin guitar trying to sound like Joanie and Judy. It was years before Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash played together on TV, making cross-genre fraternization acceptable. Who knew?
Lately I’ve been wondering what else, besides having a cool friend with similar musical interests, I might have missed during high school because I was too shy. And here’s the thing: despite years of sculpting a vivid and colorful life and creating a musically mediocre thing or two that Made a Difference...despite being perhaps even a bit of a loudmouth, I am still shy.
I noticed this on our recent honeymoon, when occasions arose where we had to communicate with people who spoke either French or Italian. Although I am a veteran of ten years of school French and some heavy-duty total-immersion Spanish, I found myself letting Sam lead with his charming smile, apologetic shrug, and “no Francais” before shifting over to the international language of Pantomime. My vocabulary might kick in later on, but in the moment I’d be tongue-tied, red-faced, and bashful.
If you, like me, belong to the Society of the Secretly Shy, I’d like to hear from you. We need to reveal our tips and strategies. We need to stick together. We need to share bulk orders of anti-blush cream.
And here’s the other thing. Back in high school, I would have given anything (even my Martin guitar) to be in the Mayhems.
Causes Kathi Goldmark Supports
Support for Families of Children with Disabilities Friends of the San Francisco Public Library National Kidney Foundation of Northern California Litquake...