Introvert: Noah Gazoff
Occupation: Part-time CIA agent
Location: I’ve already said too much
Whenever I need to be alone and clear my head, I go to a funeral. It doesn’t have to be for someone I know. In fact, it usually helps if it isn’t. Aside from occasional hysterical sobbing, you won’t find a more tranquil environment.
There are many memorial services from which to choose. Simply check the obituaries in your local newspaper or online. Ideally, the recently departed should be a complete stranger who died from natural causes. This usually ensures a quiet service with a minimum of drama. You know you’ve hit pay dirt if you overhear someone say, “It was her time.”
I always enter quietly and sit by myself. Mourners rarely talk to me. I have a pretty intense resting bitch face that normally scares the hell out of people. But at funerals I look like I’ve lost my best friend which is the effect I’m going for. The only time anyone has ever asked why I wasn’t smiling was when I attended the funeral of an original member of Up with People.
Small talk is minimal at a memorial service. However, I’m always prepared for the rare occasion I inadvertently make eye contact. I slowly shake my head, look down and say, “Heck of a guy;” or “We’re going to miss him;” or “They broke the mold when they made her; or “What can I say that hasn’t been said?” Before anyone can respond, I sigh and walk away.
Aside from the opportunity for contemplation, there’s something deeply spiritual about funerals. Yes, they give me time to ponder my existence as well as why the widow’s hand is resting gently on another man’s thigh. But this age-old ritual of bidding farewell to friends and loved ones always reminds me that I’m part of a vast universe inhabited by introverts, extroverts and widows who can’t wait to start dating until after they bury their husbands.
The next time you need to be alone and you’re miles from the nearest park, beach or quiet café, go to a funeral. There’s no better place to get your needed “me” time with a gentle portion of “us” time on the side.
Camila Montalban, the world’s oldest introvert, has died in Bel Air, California. She was 118 and passed away while doing what she loved best, staring quietly at the ceiling.
Montalban, who attributed her longevity to sleep, eating healthy food alone, and never revealing her address to countless relatives, died at 10:38 a.m. Wednesday. She collapsed while listening to a Meals on Wheels deliveryman drone on endlessly. She never regained conciousness.
Camila was born on August 2, 1899 in San Diego, California. Her father was a Maytag washboard repairman. Her mother was an ESL teacher who taught recent immigrants Spanish. She didn’t speak her first word until age 12, later explaining, “I didn’t have anything to say.
Montalban was the member of Chula Vista Community College’s first graduating class where she majored in housewifery and minored in gazing contemplatively at sunsets.
In 1919, Montalban married Leo Rezdin, a talkative used buggy salesman. They had five children, one of whom she enjoyed conversing with. When not pretending to listen to her husband and other kids, she enjoyed rehashing arguments in her head and anxiously waiting for parties to end so she could go home. A history buff, Camilla founded a club that researched and re-enacted famous moments of silence.
With Camila Montalban’s death, the title of world’s oldest introvert now belongs to Takeo Fukuda, a 112-year-old retired male model and the only World War II Japanese solder who refused to surrender because he preferred the peace and quiet of jungle living.
Lyle Halston has been coming to Supercuts for over seven years.
The quiet, unassuming, software engineer has been told his business is no longer welcome. His crime? He never talks with his stylists.
“I realize most people like to chat with their cutter, but I can never think of anything to say,” says Halston. “I’m aware this creates nervous tension. I even once tried to ask ‘How was your weekend,’ but it felt so phony.”
“He was really creeping out the staff,” said manager Becky Nunes. “Would it kill him to talk about the weather once in a while?”
The last straw came when stylist Eddie “Snips” McCann asked Halston if he had “watched the game last night.” “He took a deep breath; it looked like he was about to speak; and then he just closed his eyes. Talk about arrogant! As God is my witness, I will never tell him to have a nice day again!”
Halston tried to make up for his quiet demeanor with extra-large tips, but it wasn’t enough for cutter Alice Beamon: “Tips are nice but they can’t compare to someone inquiring about your bunions.”
Lyle is frustrated. It’s been almost a year since he’s had a haircut, and he still hasn’t been able to find a new stylist who is amenable to his quiet nature. On the bright side, he’s channeled his anger into a new one-man show called “I Am Bigfoot.”
Nothing makes an introvert more uncomfortable than being the center of attention – particularly during a zombie invasion. Like extroverts, most zombies do not understand that introverts prefer to be left alone. This also explains why solitary monsters, like vampires and werewolves, have more empathy for their socially awkward victims.
In the classic 1950 horror flick, “I Was a Teenage Recluse,” the main character Leo Mizner, an obsessive introvert, avoids marauding monsters destroying his town by staying in his house and reading “Anna Karenina.” In the final, terrifying scene, Mizner foolishly opens his front door, and comes face-to-eyeballs with a family of flesh-eating Jehovah witness zombies. The credits roll as the creatures from the dead politely hand him a leaflet and have him for brunch.
Zombies are basically nice creatures once you get past the flesh-eating part, but they have always posed unique problems for introverts. How do you say, “Please look away while you devour me” without hurting their feelings? Better to simply lock your doors and windows, call the National Guard, and crawl into bed with a nice book.
It’s very possible that Mona Lisa, the subject of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, was an introvert. Here is what some so-called experts, based on semi-scientific analysis of her facial expression, hazard to guess she’s thinking.
- I wish I was home by myself picking bugs out of my dinner.
- Stop looking at me, Leonardo! You’re making me feel self conscious!
- I AM SMILING!
- Please, don’t ask again if I want to take a break. This small talk is killing me.
- There must be some way I can get out of going to the unveiling dinner.
- Give it up, da Vinci. This is as smiley as I get!
- Stop complaining, Mona. At least this beats working in sales.
An Illinois high school has a found a novel way to stage the Laurents / Bernstein / Sondheim musical classic West Side Story, while avoiding ethnic stereotypes.
Alphonse Capone High School Drama Club in suburban Chicago is replacing the traditional Anglo and Puerto Rican gangs with introverts and extroverts.
“We thought this would make the play more relatable,” said Drama Club faculty advisor Ramona Proscenium. “Who doesn’t identify with the group of extroverts dancing across an alley while snapping fingers, or a group of brooding introverts sitting quietly by themselves contemplating violence at a big dance?”
Staging a musical with introvert and extrovert street gangs has not been without challenges. For example, the Introvert gang appears together throughout the show, but only for short periods of time. Said Devin Harris who plays Tony, “My character can take only so much socialization. That’s why he sings most of his songs while reading a book in his bedroom.” The rest of the Introvert gang spends much of the show off stage, trying not to be noticed.
Timothy Cranston who plays Bernardo, the leader or the Extrovert gang says his character is incapable of being alone. “That’s why he’s the last one to leave the dance. You can see the tension build when he realizes he has to dance home, snapping his fingers by himself.”
The show’s most complex charter is Maria, an ambivert portrayed by Lucy Spitsink. “I have a dual personality. One moment I feel pretty. The next I’m oh so pretty. Maria is all over the place. The toughest part is singing duets with Tony since he’s always on the other side of town in his bedroom reading a book. But that’s the magic of theater.
How will the general public react to a West Side Story with Introvert and Extrovert gangs? Ms. Proscenium has her fingers crossed. “I’m hopeful people will be open to the idea, just as I’m hopeful they’ll love next semester’s show, “The Music Transgender Man.”
West Side Story, the introvert, extrovert musical premiers this Friday. Tickets are still available. If you plan to attend with a group please avoid small talk with any introverts who are attending alone.
Larry, a book store manager from San Francisco, is an extreme introvert who prefers quiet evenings in his apartment alone reading and playing his recorder.
However, Larry (not his real name) has another life. He occasionally likes to explore a darker side of his introversion with the help of a dominatrix, Mistress Shtum.
“It took a long time for me to admit,” says Larry, “that there’s another side to me who enjoys being punished for being quiet. I experimented with other dominatrices, most of who were truly annoyed by my silent nature. They usually offered to punish me free of charge. Mistress Shtum understands me and my limits. As strange as it sounds, she’s the only person I feel safe with while being hogtied for not making eye contact.”
Mistress Shtum (her real name) specializes in introverted submissive fetishes. She says her introverted clients have particularly vivid fantasies. It can be anything being ordered to attend an Up With People concert wearing women’s underwear, to being strapped in a barber’s chair while talking on the phone for hours with a distant relative.
“I help my slaves explore their fears and desires. Ordering someone to hand out their business cards at a networking conference may sound cruel, but they trust me. I never have them engage in small talk with a regional sales manager without first agreeing to a safe word.”
“This lifestyle isn’t for all introverts,” says Larry. “There was a time in my life when the thought of being handcuffed to a talkative former cheerleader while trying to read a book would’ve repulsed me. I now understand there’s nothing more liberating than being totally humiliated and degraded – as long as it’s followed with lots of some quiet time.”
On June 28, 1921, illusionist, escape artist, and introvert, Harry Houdini was persuaded by his manager, Leo “Mr. 15 Percent” Lipmann to attend a party of potential investors for his next show.
Within minutes after arriving, Houdini was adrift in an ocean of adoring eyeballs. His devoted fans asked questions most believed impossible for any anti-social escapologist to answer: “How are you tonight?” “Is this your lovely wife?” “Nice straight jacket. How much did you pay for it?”
Houdini began to panic. He was packed in a crowd of strangers 20-deep and needed desperately to be alone. No introvert trapped by a mass of people this large had ever escaped. The few people who sensed his discomfort that evening believed the great Houdini had finally met his match.
…until a waiter dropped a tray of crab cakes.
As partygoers turned to watch the desperate attendant picking up the h’orderves while being flogged by the hostess, Houdini slipped silently to the floor and slithered to the bathroom where he spent the next two hours alphabetizing the medicine cabinet contents.
After three hours, a partygoer, who’d become violently ill after eating some dirty crab cakes, pounded violently on the bathroom door. Houdini dropped the magazine he’d been reading and jumped through a small second-story window. He rolled off the front sidewalk and limped to a local hospital where he was treated for dog bites and a broken ankle.
After sending his hosts a thank-you note, Harry Houdini went on to become one of the greatest escape artists of all time. He is also an inspiration for every introvert who has ever thought, “One way or another I have to escape this party.”