I have plenty of friends. I can talk to anyone, and most people usually talk back; I thought I knew people. That’s when I met my best friend. Our friendship is an anomaly in every sense: I socialize with everyone. He paces around the corner of a room, avoiding conversations. I’m a prude who prefers social norms. My friend has no qualms with cursing in every sentence, or taking a swig from a Coke bottle lying on the side of the road. But that’s what I love about my best friend, his eccentricity and spontaneity.
For the longest time, I thought something was wrong with my friend. I saw him for one day of the week, we spent hours together, and he wouldn’t speak to me for the rest of the week. Whenever we did speak on the internet, the conversations never lasted more than five minutes. I found it odd when he avoided my other friends. I used to think that he was angry when he avoided me for days on end. It saddened me, and I thought that he was ostracizing me. It took me a while to realize that my friend was an introvert.
He prefers spending most of his time on his own. He wasn’t mad at me; he was just being himself. He prefers the company of books and music to people. He sees small-talk as a waste of his time. He thinks about everything. His jokes are never funny, but they always make me think. His factoids always astound me: Did you know that Barack Obama’s zipper was open during a speech in Charlotte, or that Alexander the Great’s horse died in Pakistan?
Many people assume that my friend’s a cold person who hates people. But I’ve never met a more caring person. Most people have a different perception of what concern really is. To them, concern represents someone pretending to listen and, in some cases, nodding. Well, my best friend doesn’t. Instead, he stops the kid bicycling without a helmet. He picks up litter because, in his own words, “someone might trip on it.” You see, my friend is one of those faceless people in the background.
I believe that I’ll understand my friend. Like all extroverts, I will never grasp why my introverted friend needs to be alone to recharge. I don’t think that I’ll ever know why he walks by himself, humming classical music. I don’t think I’ll ever know what he’s thinking about when he tells me to “shush” in the middle of a conversation.
Often, some of my other friends will ask why I spend so much of my time with a perceived oddity. They ask why I hang out with a person who picks up trash from the side of the road, who doesn’t shower for days on end. They ask why I associate with someone who lives under a rock. They say he’s antisocial. All I can do is pretend like I care and nod patiently.