Meandering Monday About Fitting In with This Madness

March Madness has begun. It’s not particularly any madder than things usually are, just a good job of marketing that’s taken control of MADNESS and made it something to aspire to.

I have to admit – other than a charity pool at work (where I picked my brackets using a complex methodology that included two twenty-sided dice), I really don’t have a dog in this fight/ a pony in this race. I don’t really care who wins. My alma mater isn’t involved, and even if they were, I’ve never felt involved with them. I paid them to teach me and give me their imprimatur when I was done doing all the work, and haven’t returned since.

I don’t tend to get INVOLVED in or with something unless it’s a something I REALLY care about. I don’t think I’m that unusual that way, but at times like this it feels like it.

There are social situations in our lives that require us to at least put on a show of caring, and this MADNESS is one of those. No, it’s not quite as bad as the Star Trek episode where the natives are running around screaming “Festival!”, it’s a lot more forgiving of those who are not ONE OF US, or OF THE BODY, but still we feel the need/longing to fit in (and as much as I demean my own lack of humanness, I do feel that need to FIT IN.

SO, I find myself in this social situation at a sports bar on the first official day of the MADNESS. I’ve always been an early arriver – it’s how I fit in. I can’t stand being the last one to join a party or group, and there’s almost a feeling of seniority or tenure (as TENUOUS as it might be) with being among the first. I took the opportunity to engage in instructive small talk about the rules (while there were few enough people to notice how I wasn’t initiated), and then settled in for the night as the crowd and the raucousness grew.

In loud places, how can you REALLY hear what everyone else is saying? Me, I’ve never been able to pick out voices in a large group, so once the noise level rises, I’m not actually hearing more than every other word. I watch people’s lips move, their smiles (or lack of), gestures, and I get the gist of what’s going on, and nod and smile back and throw in my own comments, which seem to be on the money, because no one looks at me like I’m MAD.

Is it really pretending if you go with the tone of what’s going on around you instead of the detail? To be honest, I do this when I’m watching movies and reading books, too. I don’t need to catch every single word that’s said to understand what’s happening (and react accordingly) – just don’t ask me to recount the details later.

I seem to develop a better camaraderie by getting that tone and going with it than by bogging down in the details (and after one of these drinking-hole gatherings, I have a feeling that many others don’t remember the details, either. Alcohol can have that effect.) (I’ve heard.)

I committed what could have been a social faux pas (like I never have before) when one of the people in our group noticed that I was being unusually quiet compared to the way I usually am (in quieter places), and so I told him (and the two or three other people who could hear me) how I cope with not really being able to catch the conversations buried in the noise, so I pretend (the things I said in the two paragraphs above this one) and just fit in by enjoying the fact that everyone is enjoying themselves.

That’s right – I broke the 4th wall (that’s normally a theatrical term) by calling attention to my own self-awareness of the absurdity of the script I’m living, instead of just GOING WITH IT. Sort of like the role of the court jester, and I was laughed at – but not in a mean way, more in a “there goes Bill, again,” way, which means they all understood (or pretended to), and my place as ONE OF US (even if I am the ODD one of us) remained secure.

Sure, It’s probably not cool to admit these things. But then, if you REALLY want to fit in, don’t you also have to be understood? We’re all playing this game with different objectives, but ultimately, we all just want to fit in with the MADNESS, don’t we?

Just saying…


RidingTheDevilCover_SmashwordsThis week’s Smashwords coupon is for “Riding the Devil”:

With his town running from one strange frontier to another as they elude their alien abductors, Aaron Walker is forced to risk all to save the town and fulfill his destiny.

“Riding The Devil” is a science fiction / fantasy story with a western steampunk flavor, based loosely on a dream (and oddly, not my own.) Use coupon code KD74Q to get 67% off the cover price at Smashwords (that’s only 99-cents – such a deal!) – it’s good until March 26th. Here’s the link:

“Riding the Devil” is also available in my second collection, aptly titled: More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND.


My next story up for ePublication will be “Burial Details”, in which a farmer scraping by after the Sahrian invasion buries his most precious treasures to hide them from the aliens’ “salvation”. Publication is scheduled for April 8th, but the preorder campaign will begin shortly.


William Mangieri’s writing, including his latest ePub “The Pipes”, can be found in many places, including:



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