His name is Josh. A fact that only took me 7 weeks after first meeting to find out about him. Before that time however, i knew that he was majoring in web design. Of this, i knew almost even before he announced it to the class, in fact. He is a fellow student in my PSYC 101 course, and in addition to sitting on the other side of the room, i feel he may also sit on the other side of the world from me.
His non-committed unbranded t-shirt, that almost begs to have a “Dungeons & Dragons” logo emblazoned on its front, covers an almost skeletal upper body. And his good twelve-to fourteen inches of hair, in a tightly-pulled but random pony tail, covers the upper most portion of the t-shirt, only where it lays against it carelessly. His beard is very similar to that of one who has been trapped in a sand storm that has lasted for far too many years – blown back, gritty and brittle, with smallish patches strewn about the face showing areas where the hair refuses to grow any longer – if it in fact ever did. His eyebrows have proven much more successful in their growth attempts, and are very near exceeding their goal of meeting each other in the middle. He has the rare type of body wherein the feet appear to be almost as long as the vertical portion of the body, with his profile resulting in very much an “L” shape to the eye. His arms and legs are true to the bust they grow off from, and are quite thin and willowy as a result. The arms are in constant motion, and when he speaks, the hands alternate between random waves into the air or rubbing bared elbows in search of long-lost scabs – but only if they are not wringing, one against the other, in an apparently failed attempt to remove the flesh altogether, if not the blood of some long-forgotten sin. In short, you can tell by a body language that almost screams out to be heard, he would feel so much more comfortable if he never had to say another word to another living human being in all of his existence, let alone to an entire room full of people. And yet he still does anyway.
In fact, this man, who will do very well once plunked behind a lit screen that requires no conversation i think, is actually quite vocal in class. Not just when he’s called upon to do so, but also when he feels he has the right answer, or if he feels that he simply has something to add to the general conversation. And when he opens his mouth, he usually does. True, it takes painstakingly long for the knowledge in his head to be presented to the rest of us. His voice is not exactly what you would deem as “strong”, and while he doesn’t stutter per say, his words do have an occasional way of cutting out – losing volume altogether mid-word – only to be audible again at the end. But still, he carries on, until every thought is expressed and his contribution complete. In other words, it is apparent that he has a very large issue with feeling comfortable in public, both in speaking, and possibly just being in his own skin at the time. And it also is quite obvious that he is using this school experience to – if not deal with the problem altogether – at least knock it down to a much more manageable size.
Once, towards the beginning of the semester, he took the floor – and i mean literally – he stood directly in the middle of the floor and provided a brief summary on some such thing or another. His fade-in/fade-out staccato was in full effect and his hands were working overtime in finding something to keep them occupied. As much is his nature, throughout his dissertation, his eyes never left the floor. Except once, that is. He was almost finished delivering his speech in a fashion almost heart-wrenching to watch when, at the back of the room, school-girlish giggles from women far to old to be acting like school girls could be heard. It was brief – but it was enough. Josh’s eyes immediately darted towards the corner of the room where the offending sound came from, and while never breaking his vocal stride, he flung daggers of hate and anger that could almost be felt cutting the air as they zipped across the room in search of their target. Targets that themselves should hardly have been throwing verbal stones. In fact, let’s just say of these women that neither of them are exactly going to be mistaken for Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe any time soon. And from their mouths never is heard a word that actually adds to the value of the class – whether it be voluntary or coerced from their lips.
The entire incident was momentary and i’m quite sure that of all the big wide world, Josh and i are the only ones still thinking about it – that is – if Josh even still is. And while really such a minor thing, i felt (feel) bad that women who refuse to deal with their issues can find it so easy to laugh at one who is. And i feel even worse that in this instance, i did nothing about it to help Josh, standing there way across the world from me. But in this instance, i’m not sure if any “help” given wouldn’t have caused more grief instead. In every walk of life, there will be school girls – of all shapes, sizes, sexes, age and race – ready to impress you with their ignorance by laughing at someone – anyone – who just doesn’t “fit”. And while Josh may try his best, i don’t feel that he could ever truly “fit” anymore than i could. And i suppose, based on that, he and i really are a lot more alike than i initially thought. i suppose we’ll both have to carry on, simply trying our best to deal with our issues, while both ignoring the school girl chatter that will occasionally come into our lives as a result, and making sure that we don’t add to its cacophony either.
i won’t be there to see it, but i do hope Josh’s story has a good ending. One wherein his issues have been slain like bloated dragons and he has risen triumphant against the storm of the ignorance of others. And from what i can see, he seems to be doing his best to ensure just that.