Sunday, 29 March 2009

Prologue, Part the First - The Traveller Discovers a Book,and Spends Some Money

Unlike most stories this has a definite beginning,a prologue even. Bear with me,because this will take a while.


It started with a party. A Hallowe'en fancy-dress party where I never really warmed up and started talking to the friends of the people who invited me. I could give you a number of reasons - the smell of the fake blood and greasepaint was making me feel sick (true); I didn't know anyone there (not really an excuse); parties were never my thing (so why did I go?) - but I was feeling bored and awkward,and hadn't a clue how to talk to these people,who looked so much more mature and accomplished than I felt.

Scanning the bookshelves,(I always do this to get an idea of the characters of people who live in a house. If their only reading matter is OK! or Heat,I rank them on the same level as people who think the Daily Mail depicts an accurate representation of society) none of the books really appealed. Then I spotted this one book: The Yes Man*. I vaguely remembered hearing about it on TV Tropes,so,after taking it down and reading the back blurb,I opened it up,aware that I was neglecting my duty as a guest to at least interact with the others but not really caring.

I did not move for the next three or so hours; I was just sat there,reading Danny Wallace's funny and true tale of what happens to you when you let the answer to every question be "Yes!". After the party (I did talk to the guests at the end,when everyone was sufficiently pissed to do all the talking for me),I thought I'd found The Answer. The solution to all my woes.

I'd always been nervous and fearful of change. I'd had my thirtieth birthday a month ago,and I hadn't really done... anything. Nothing of note,nothing I could talk to people about in parties,unless you count editing wikis or watching anime and comedy series. All right,I'd gone back to university,but that was partly due to a suggestion made by someone else and partly a desire to belong to/be part of/be safe in the arms of university life. So far,though I'd been working hard(ish),I thought I couldn't escape my destiny to either fail and have another nervous breakdown,or graduate and not know what the hell I wanted to do. I'd never done anything without being prodded,or asking someone to prod me then getting a perverse pleasure out of defying them. I was holding myself back. Here was a direct challenge to that.

The clincher was the passage in the book that said,'because I'd been doing so much stuff,I had things to talk about.' I could be interesting and a whole person,and not feel like I was a Father Stone in gatherings because I had nothing social to say. I mean,recovering from mental illness might be a gruelling,painful process,but it's not exactly a topic for conversation with strangers. Saying,"Have you ever been in a disassociative state?" is a bit of conversation killer :-|. Plus,it might be seen as whining and grasping for attention (which I am,but no need to advertise it).

If I said yes more,if I opened up instead of pushing away,I could have experiences to remember. I could LIVE.


There were other repercussions to this,but for the purposes of this story,the main one would concern a post made a couple of weeks before the party in my university's Anime Club forum. I'd expressed a desire for this,but could not justify spending nearly a thousand pounds.

Now,though,now I went straight ahead and booked the fucker. Because I would never have this opportunity again. Yes,it would have been available next year,but would I have had the money? Not likely; not without a student loan. Would I have had the freedom? No idea. When I asked myself,'Did I want to go to the land of anime,manga and all-round weirdness,act like the weeaboo to end all weeaboos and basically geek out?',I followed the example of the book and said YES!

* Do yourself a favour and miss the movie. It's just not the same. I mean,would Jim Carrey have been allowed to poke a Buddhist monk because he couldn't think of anything else?

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