I have a problem.  I can’t be rude to people.  Now, judging by those That’s So Stupid! lists, you might not think that’s much of a problem for me, so let me clarify: I can’t be rude to people face to face.  Growing up, this always seemed like a good thing.  Do unto others, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all, etc etc.  For some reason, I really took those sentiments to heart.  It has always been a comfort to me to know that I can think whatever I want, however viciously I want, without losing the polite smile on my face or giving anything away.  Undoubtedly, my brain has been a refuge these many years.  However, as an adult, my inability to say what I really think out loud has become somewhat paralyzing. 

Due to an abnormally overactive Minnesota Nice region of my brain, I’m frequently subjected to excruciatingly awkward conversations with no means of extricating myself.  I suspect that people can sense this about me; perhaps I give off special pheromones that draw lonely, talkative people to me.  As a result, I’ve had lengthy conversations with people on airplanes about their dogs’ defecation habits, engaged in dull exchanges about plastic manufacturing while in gift shops, soaked up the waves of alcohol wafting off of drunk old men as they call me Lisa Loeb and encourage me to play my guitar for everyone, and indulged the ramblings of women offended by evolution in office settings.  I cannot escape these people.  Do you have some sort of unsightly medical condition you want to talk about?  Are you bursting with pride over the French doors leading out to your patio and just have to brag about the deal you got?  Apparently, I’m your girl.                     

Sometimes I think life would be easier if I could just open my mouth and say no.  I try, I really do, but my subtleties are lost on people.  Perhaps it’s my Emily Postian upbringing or my lifelong fixation on period films and novels, but I’ve grown up believing others would understand subtle social cues, such as saying it’s getting late, I have work to finish, etc.  As it turns out, no one picks up on these cues, or if they do, they don’t care and keep on talking.  At a certain point, I expect my own discomfort to outweigh the temporary awkwardness of informing someone I don’t want to keep talking to them, but alas it never does.  In fact, I’m waffling even now about including an anecdote for fear the socially awkward people involved might read this post and take offense or worse, have their feelings hurt.  It can’t be healthy to be this polite.  Someone save me from myself.