It loves me, I hate it.
I hate Twitter because it is like being in a large room where everyone is talking and I can’t focus on one conversation for long. Everyone has something to say, and sometimes people at the other end of the room want to hear, so word travels between people like a more efficient game of Telephone (well, that part is pretty cool). My aversion to crowds translates to the digital world.
But I also love Twitter. It lets me yell out my random comments at the people who interest me. It’s a good networking tool. I can find lots of interesting stuff on there.
Here’s an unexpected benefit that really shouldn’t have been unexpected at all: it trains me to say more with less words. That 140-character limit can be a bitch. Here I am, trying to express myself and be less taciturn, and Twitter says, “Hey now, you think letters grow on trees, son? Give some of those back right now before I get my sack of doorknobs.”
But it’s good in a way. I tend to be liberal with word counts. Paring down what I want to say is good practice for getting to the point in my fiction, especially with short stories when every word counts. It makes me get rid of weak words. Die, unnecessary adverbs and adjectives! And then I burn the corpses so they don’t come back.
Okay, I’m done talking about Twitter. Now go RT this so all your friends can see!
P.S. WordPress recommends tags for posts. For some reason, it’s recommending “hate speech.” What the heck is that, WordPress? Is it because I’m talking smack about Twitter? Are you friends? Do you have lunch at the cafe down the street every Thursday afternoon and talk about your cat pictures?
Okay, here’s the first in my “Awkward Hawk” series. As I have it planned, each will be a vignette based on one of my socially awkward quirks. Afterward, in case the quirk was not made obvious by the tale (And if that’s the case, what kind of writer am I?), I’ll offer a brief explanation. Let’s get to it already!
WARNING: It turned out longer than anticipated. Advance at your own risk.
“Beware the Stare of Dr. Gorgon”
(Picture by electricbill on Flickr)
Dr. Gorgon strolls through the garden of statues clogging Main Street. She peers into cars to see stone drivers and passengers. There’s even a dog statue lifting its leg on a tree. If that isn’t proof of her villainy, I don’t know what is. That dog has to hold it in for who knows how long.
Hurts me just to think about it. Hold on, I’m taking a bathroom break before I continue this narration…. Okay, I’m good.
“Nobody can challenge me,” the bad doctor whispers with a smile, then pauses. “Oh, wait, Daring Demon would be a nuisance, being blind and everything. But he’s in New York, so it’s moot. Nobody else can challenge me!”
A pigeon, being unobservant, suicidal, or both, chooses that time to take off from a windowsill. Dr. Gorgon’s gaze swivels in its direction, and she whips off her tinted goggles. The pigeon’s eyes meet hers. Flesh becomes stone, and the pigeon statue plummets to the street, sure to smash upon impact.
That is, it would have, if Awkward Hawk didn’t come swooping down to catch it just in time. Hawk sets it down on the sidewalk. Does a pigeon count as a full life saved? he wonders. Eh, I’m going to say yes. What, is someone going to audit me? He takes out a notepad and adds a tally on the “lives saved” page. After a brief struggle with conscience, he puts a tiny asterisk next to it. Best play it safe.
“Really?” Dr. Gorgon scoffs. She has replaced her goggles. Sure, she’ll take them off again when she wants to finish Hawk off, but it’s only polite to allow for banter and/or monologuing. “Awkward Hawk comes to stand against me? Was the Gilded Grasshopper busy? Don’t you have a cave to hide in?”
“For your information, it’s being fumigated, and Grasshopper has a dentist appointment. But I would have come anyway!”
“I’m certain.” The doctor sits on a car hood and crosses her legs.
“So what’s your plan, Gorgon?” Hawk asks. “You aren’t the type for harming the innocent unless there’s profit involved. Where’s the profit here?”
“I had a grand speech prepared, you know,” Dr. Gorgon says. “Embellished the affair a bit. But since it’s just you, I’ll give you the Cliffs Notes version. Did you attend the city council meeting about the road work they planned for next week on this street?”
“I think my perfect attendance at council meetings is public record.”
“Ah, good. That’s it.”
“That’s – what?”
“I’ve clogged the street with human statues so they can’t do it.”
“Because I live right there,” Gorgon points at an apartment building just down the street, “and I work nights, so it would keep me awake.”
“I know, right?” Dr. Gorgon slides off the hood. “Well, it’s been a nice chat and everything, but let’s finish this.”
“Good. I was hoping to get to Subway before the lunchtime rush.”
Dr. Gorgon lifts her goggles and stares at Hawk, anticipating his fate as her newest statue. It would be a good one, too, what with the wings and all. Maybe she’d sell that one to an art gallery and pretend she sculpted it. She was preoccupied trying to think of a name for the sculpture, so she didn’t notice Awkward Hawk walking towards her, not turning to stone at all. She settles on “An Angel Falls” when she finally comes to her senses and sees Hawk standing right in front of her. “You’re not stone,” she says.
“No, thankfully, I am not.”
“But how? My power is irresistible. I could turn an elephant to stone!”
“It’s theoretical, but the math supports the hypothesis. How are you doing this?”
“Wait – hey, you’re not even looking at me.”
“Um, nope, I’m not.”
“Have you even looked at me since we’ve been talking?”
Hawk fidgets. If he wasn’t already looking away, he would do it now in embarrassment. “Maybe not.”
“That’s just rude.”
“Not as rude as your stony gaze, villain!” He was already embarrassed, so he figures he can get away with that line.
“Damn it, come here and look at me, coward.” The doctor grabs his face and tried to turn it so their eyes meet. Awkward Hawk struggles, as I’m sure you’ll agree is a good idea in the situation. As they struggle, he twists away rather violently and ends up clipping her with a wing. She goes down without further fight.
Awkward Hawk hasn’t noticed yet, as he is crouching in the street with his arms flung over his face. When he finally peeks out and sees the unconscious villain, he simply says, “Well, this is awkward.”
* * *
And there you have it. So what is the social quirk this is based on? If you guessed “corny one-liners,” you’d be wrong. It’s all about my aversion to eye contact. I can make eye contact, and frequently do. It just makes me uncomfortable for some reason. When I’m talking to someone, I’ll often look off to the side. I’m sure it makes me seem rude (as many of my quirks probably do), but I swear I’m just weirdly shy.
Wow. This turned out longer than I planned. I expected just a piece of a scene – maybe a bit of comic action with some dialogue. Ended up with some bona fide flash fiction over here. As fun as it was, I’m not sure future installments will be as long. I was also considering playing around with a script format (something I haven’t done before). We’ll see. I hope anyone brave enough to read the whole thing enjoyed it.
I don’t know you that well, reader, but I feel like we have this – this connection. I feel like I can trust you. I wouldn’t loan you money or give you a key to my house or anything – we’re not at that level yet so stop smothering me. I do feel like I can share a secret, though, and here it is.
I live a double life. At home, in the comfort of my cave, I am the mild-mannered writer/blogger/amateur mind reader you’ve come to adore, or at least tolerate. When I step out into the world and interact with what we will loosely call humans, though, I transform. I become…
Awkward Hawk, the Socially Awkward Superhero!
I will give you a moment to adjust your worldview. Good? Okay.
Yeah, I lack social grace. I was okay as a kid, but as I mature like a fine boxed wine, I increasingly embody the shy introvert archetype. It can actually be painful if I let myself dwell on it.
This is why I’m going to write some (hopefully) humorous posts about the many quirks that make up my condition. Because sure, I may suffer, but you can have a laugh about it! It’s cheaper than therapy. Well, cheaper monetarily speaking. Probably more costly in mental scarring.
I will begin the actual series soon (Maybe later this week?). For now, enjoy a brief glimpse of the superhero that will win the hearts of the people, even while not answering their calls and letting them go to voicemail.
* # *
A casual observer would take the young (-ish) man as a typical guy. No, not even that. Unremarkable. Easily forgotten when not in sight. Could use a new pair of shoes.
Certainly not the kind of man with…a secret identity.
He sits in his home, lazily surfing the net – I mean, studiously doing research for his next great story. The computer screen’s glare leaves a faint green ghost on his glasses (which do not make him look like a hipster, so don’t even).
His phone buzzes and flashes red, breaking the peace. His demeanor goes from casual to business casual, and his eyes focus like a raptor’s. He punches the button to answer. “State your emergency. Yes. Yes. Okay. Rest easy. I’m on my way. Try not to provoke him until I get there. Then you can provoke him all you want.”
Tossing the phone aside, he leaps to his feet. A burst of electric blue energy envelops him, and he becomes…
Awkward Hawk, the Socially Awkward Superhero!
He unfurls the wings that now spread from his shoulders. They are unkempt, ungainly, and some say one is shorter than the other, but they are just jealous. “I’m a real fly guy!” he cries, not regretting the pun, never regretting it. Awkward Hawk launches into the air, on the way to heroic adventures…in awkwardness!