The Plight of the Amherst Introvert

About two years ago, I went to a party in Seelye along with my close circle of friends. We weren’t (and still aren’t) the kind to frequent every major campus shindig; on the few occasions when we pre-gamed, the “game” usually ended up being Settlers of Catan. But this was the Screw Your Roommate TAP, and the allure of a free t-shirt was enough to stir some of my compatriots out of our usual weekend haunt (a cramped, uncomfortable single in Pond annex). I wasn’t particularly in the mood for the crowded, sticky, hot mess that generally distinguishes indoor TAPs, but went along anyway from some vague sense of obligation: everyone else was going, so I should as well.

But my worst fears were realized, and after about 10 minutes of being trapped behind a common room door while some drunken bro accidentally elbowed me in the chest every 5 seconds, I literally fled back to my room, closing the blind, locking the door and turning off my lights and phone to avoid the (not unwarranted) barrage of calls from my friends wondering where the hell I ran off to.

This wasn’t the first nor the last time that this basic situation played out, but I still have no real explanation for when or why exactly this peculiar flight instinct kicks in. It has nothing to do with claustrophobia; I’ve gone to many other similar parties before and since, and despite the close conditions felt no such impulse to escape. Lowering my inhibitions hasn’t assisted particularly, either: in recent years I’ve gone from teenage temperance to Russia-induced levels of tolerance, but that didn’t stop me from abandoning some friends on their way to a club in Moscow back in May, even though weaving my way back to the hostel alone was nothing short of a miracle. I have pretty much zero way of predicting these outbursts before they happen.

I can only say that standing among all those people, I was hit with the sudden, urgent desire to simply be somewhere else. I guess there are simply days when I would rather stay in and read or watch a movie than be around a horde of people. I consider myself a shy but sociable person and a horrible but sincere dancer, but sometimes the general frenzy of Amherst parties simply overloads these sensibilities.

But what is the Amherst introvert to do? Come Monday, if I concede over lunch with an acquaintance (thanks to HuckleKat for the astute distinction between friends and acquaintances in his post last week) that I skipped out on the latest rager at Hamilton to finish an Alfred Hitchcock mini-marathon (aka Hitchcockathon), I will probably be treated to a response of “Lame!”, or perhaps a more tactful but equally damning “oh, that’s cool”-followed-by-change-of-subject.

Sometimes I’m in the mood for the Zu, and sometimes I’m just in the mood for “Zoolander;” is it too much for the bashful student to ask for some solitude now and then?

Three to Think About: Movies About Self-Righteous Nerds

1. Clerks (1994)

2. Easy A (2010)

3. The Social Network (2010)