Thursday, June 23, 2011

My seriously international readership

Well it seems I've been getting more traffic than I've been expecting!

This is not going to have anything to do with my insecurity. But I assure you, I am nowhere near out of ideas yet. And since I am so grateful about my diverse and exciting traffic, I want to take a post to thank you all for your awesomeness. (And I have a feeling I might offend some people, so I am going to be building some great fodder for future posts with this piece. So don't worry. I'm still me.)

Here are some random happy things about my traffic: I have had 358 page views, from four different countries. Bordering four different oceans and in three continents! Guys, the only ocean I'm even missing is the Antarctic and I'm pretty sure that the scientists down there are way too busy doing science to read my blog. So they're forgiven. Keep on doing your science, guys. And don't pollute the place, cause we'll need the glaciers for water some day. Like, next Tuesday, probably.

Predictably, the large majority of those 358 page views came from the Great White North. But I've also gotten seven page views from the US, five views from Germany and three from Djibouti. Djibouti, guys! And I realized I feel bad because there are now three Djiboutians who know a little bit about me and I know absolutely nothing about Djibouti. So today, I will be honouring each nationality that has read my blog by doing a little research on you. I will list some things that make your country better than mine, and one thing that I didn't previously know about your country. Read on!

United States of America

I've got to say, I'm a little disappointed in you, America. I've only had seven page views from you. And that's more than any other country outside Canada, sure, I've read, like, tons of your blogs. Maybe you could reciprocate a little bit? Pay it forward? Participate in international blog diplomacy? Just sayin'. 

Anyway, things are often tense between us, America. Canada and America's relationship status is more or less permanently set to "it's complicated." You see, you guys just think you're so much better than us. What with your power and your military and your money and your Hollywood. And you haven't let us play with the Stanley Cup since 1993, which is just rude. Isn't it time you learned to share? I mean, it was ours first.

However, I'm a little bit afraid of nuclear war so I will not use this space to insult America further. Honestly, your hot dogs rule and your beaches are way nicer than ours, and you have one whole extra colour in your flag, and people might make fun of your cars, but we don't even have cars. You did give the world Matthew McCoughnahey, which was disappointing, but you more than made up for it with Jon Hamm. (Besides, who are we to talk? I'm so sorry about Celine.)

But I have to do my research now, so I am going to find out at least one thing about America that I didn't know before. OK, here goes...yes! So, apparently the highest proportion of your radio stations (19%) were country stations in 2007, but the highest proportion of CD's sold (32%) were of the rock variety. This is intriguing. I have no further comment except to say that I guess South Park was right about America.


I have to admit I know very little about Djibouti. Prior to writing this, I knew Djibouti was a country in Africa and that was pretty much it. So. I've done my research.

I now know that Djibouti is in northeast Africa, bordering the Red Sea and near Somalia and Ethiopia. It is very small. The capital is also called Djibouti, which did not seem very original at first, but then I remembered that I'm from Kanata, Canada so I should probably not say anything. The official languages are Arabic and French, so we share a language! Bonjour, mes amis!

From what I've read, it seems that Djibouti suffers from very little light pollution and you can see far more stars there than you can in most other countries of the world. That is pretty fucking cool, Djiboutians. You're also well known for your scuba diving and I'm pretty sure no one has ever come to Canada for that purpose except maybe international diving tourists, and they probably started here to get it out of the way first. You're definitely better at heat than Canada and you are one of the hottest countries in the world. But most countries are better than Canada at the "heat" thing, so I guess that's not too exciting, and being one of the hottest countries in the world actually sounds kind of you know what? We can probably bond over this. We can have a "Who has worse weather?" competition. I see your heat wave, and I raise you a motherfucking ice storm '98. And don't worry, we'll moderate the contest in French. Merci!


This one will be a little bit easier than Djibouti, because I know a thing or two about Germany. And don't worry - I promise I won't make a Nazi joke, because you're probably pretty much just looking forward to the day when German =/= Nazi anymore.

Germany is the biggest country in Europe, which is pretty cool and I did not know that before. Well, France is the biggest geographically, but you have more people - so France is the biggest fish in a small pond, but you're the most powerful. Take that, stupide poisson!

You guys are well-known for sausage and beer. We're pretty good at beer too in Canada, so I don't really think I can patriotically say you're better at beer, but you certainly have more international brands. And you're definitely better at sausage. My vegetarian friend is visiting you this summer and she said she's actually going to practise eating meat beforehand so that she can handle all the sausage she's going to have to consume in Germany. And there are so, so many sex jokes to make about that, I don't even know where to begin, so I'm just going to ignore it and carry on.

You guys also have a badass coat of arms. Look at this thing. This is not a coat of arms you want to mess with. Your coat of arms has a fist-pumping, bicep-flexing eagle. And it's sticking its tongue out at the whole world! Jesus, that eagle has attitude. I am afraid of that eagle and I'm guessing it will eat all the little Canadian beavers and puke them up just so it can eat them again. Your coat of arms kicks ours' ass. Minimalism, Canada: we can learn a thing or two from that trademark German efficiency.


OK, I wasn't sure what I was going to write for something I didn't know about Canada, but now it's fucking easy: There is a UNICORN on our coat of arms! Holy crap! How did I never notice this before? Seriously, what the fuck? I'm really torn over whether this is awesome or terrible. I mean, unicorns rule. And this unicorn in particular is vicious. It is also sticking its tongue out - at a lion. But it raises the question: What the hell are two animals that have nothing to do with Canada whatsoever doing on our coat of arms? I'm pretty sure that lions are not native to the land of ice and snow. And unicorns are only native to rainbows and dreams, everyone knows that. And it's not just that they're not native to Canada; I think they might both be perverts. They're humping the big circle thing. And who finds circles sexy?

I obviously can't list something that makes Canada better than Canada, cause duh. But I can list some things that make Canada better than the US, Germany, and Djibouti:

-You can buy delicious, delicious beaver tails a couple blocks from my office.
-We have a lot more water.
-There is a far greater per-capita Wayne Gretzky ratio.
-We have more time zones.
-The Canadians who have read my blog are actually here on purpose, rather than accidentally stumbling upon it whilst googling the social habits of caterpillars for a school project.

I, personally, take great pride in our vast number of time zones. Nothing could better reflect the wondrous diversity of this country. I mean, right now, it's 3:30. But in Vancouver, it's 12:30. And in Newfoundland, it's 5:00. *tears of patriotism course down my dirty, Labatt-smeared cheeks*


So, there you have it. I have dedicated a whole blog post to honouring my readership. I hope that you will all continue reading my blog and loving it and maybe, even, trying to pass the word on to other countries. I could really use some southern hemisphere readers, too.

Will you throw me a bone here, Argentina?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

An Open Letter to Michael Cera

Dear Mike,

Can I call you Mike? I hope you don't mind. You see, I think of us as friends. And our friendship might be one-sided, since I know some stuff about you but all you know about me is that I'm probably not really a caterpillar. But I still think it's a pretty decent friendship. I'd help you out in a jam. I'd even help you make jam, if you want. My grandmother has a great recipe for jam.

You're probably wondering why your old pal the Social Caterpillar is writing to you. You see, I've been kind of terrified this past week that you were sitting at home Googling yourself like everyone knows every famous person always does, and you stumbled upon my post about comics.

There is a roughly 0.427 % chance you found it and bothered to read it, but that is enough of a chance that I'm scared I may have offended you. If you did read it, you might think I don't like you, and I'm really worried that maybe if you saw me in the street you'd turn your back on me. Well, you probably don't know what I look like, but you might see me and I'd say "HOLY POTATOES IT'S MICHAEL CERA," and you'd say "Oh hi, you beautiful, sexy, clearly hilarious and obviously brilliant fan of mine! I'm glad you're a fan, not like that Social Caterpillar jerkbitch who thinks I suck." And then I would have to lie, Mike. Lie to you, who is my friend. And I'm not that kind of person! So I'm clearing things up once and for all. Please let me explain.

Here's the thing, Mike: You rock. You are awesome and funny and even a little bit adorable. I first met you through Superbad, and I was like, hey, this guy's pretty rad and no one has ever sang so beautifully for a crowd of aggressive cokeheads. Then Juno came along, and I realized you and I have the same taste in awesome people because you were working with Ellen Freaking Page and she rules. And finally, I did the thing I've been meaning to do for years and watched the full Arrested Development series, and oh my God, Mike. You are just so funny. You made incest seem almost palatable. And I feel like our friendship is blossoming into something great, although I still haven't seen Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. But I will. I'm a good friend. (And then, maybe, you should keep reading my blog because that's what friends do, Mike, and I could really use a celebrity follower.)

But sadly, not everyone understands. I don't agree that the fanboys should look down on you, but I know that lots of them do. I don't really know why it's so trendy to hate on you, Mike. But it is. And I think that's just terrible! You're funny and I think you're probably pretty smart and you definitely have the sweet-and-bashful awkward boy thing going for you, but for some reason you're not garnering the geek chic respect of, like, Jesse Eisenburg.

I think I might have an inkling as to the cause of this unjustified public opinion. The non-Arrested-Development crowd (which is, let's face it, most of the world) was mostly turned on to you through Superbad. And that movie was funny, Mike. That movie managed to take the never-as-good-since-the-first-movie American Pie formula and do something with it that other, more terrible movies have been trying to do for like a decade. It had sex, but the guys going after the sex weren't creepy asshat dumbwads. It had pretty ladies, but the pretty ladies were also funny and gross just like the guys, and that told us we didn't have to settle for Tara Reid. It had heartwarming friendship. And most importantly, it had lovable losers: the John Hughesian golden standard of high school movies. And one of those lovable losers was you.

It seems you've fallen into the lovable loser trap, though, Mike, and that means some of the world is growing weary of your adorable awkwardness and frightened wimp schtick. You've taken the geek chic thing farther than some people could handle from you. Jesse Eisenburg managed to dig his heels into highbrow drama with The Social Network - and he was still playing a geek, but the Facebook guy is probably the chic-est geek out there - but you've stayed true to your nerdy comedies and arty romance flicks. And you're good at it, Mike! Never be ashamed of what you do. But sadly, you're becoming a little typecast. I won't hold that against you, though; because we're friends and even if you do always play the same part, you do it way better than, like, Bruce Willis could do it. Bruce Willis could probably kick your ass, but you could out-awkward him any day!

So since we're friends, Mike, I wanted to clear that up with you. I think you're rad. And I'm sorry I was a little embarrassed about you in front of the comic store people. That was wrong of me. I may not have read the books, but I still thought you made a great Scott Pilgrim, and I mean, you could definitely kick my ass.

So please don't judge me on my comics post. I really don't think I could handle it if you didn't like me. Because not only are you awesome, but you could also introduce me to Ellen Page and Seth Rogen and all kinds of other super awesome actors from Canada and then the four of us could form an allegiance of Smart And Funny Canadians Who Will Save the World Stereotypically Through Politeness, Maple Syrup and Hockey (or, simply, SAFCWWSTWSTPMSAH). 

You see? The fanboys should leave you alone - cause that is golden. And I made a picture of us to prove to you how sweet our SAFCWWSTWSTPMSAH adventures could be and how totally comics-worthy I think you really are.

And now you know what I look like. I'm the one in the middle who's not you. But you're smart, so you could probably figure that out.

Sincerely, your bestest friend ever,

Social Caterpillar

Friday, June 10, 2011

Quick update: newly edited "Inside the Cocoon" page!

I've come to realize that I was not properly defining this blog.

My first two posts were about my sheer and utter terror at various social situations. One involving eating food that I hate even though everyone's supposed to like it, and one involving going to a store when you don't know much about the product being sold.

And it has occurred to me: Neither of these things has anything to do with awkwardness. They are about insecurity. So! Because I am so damn insecure about the way I've defined my insecurity, I have re-written my "Inside the Cocoon page." It is right here. Go read it. And then tell your friends and grandparents and hot dog vendors all about my blog. And then come back soon!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How to Buy a Comic Book

I am a big reader. I generally go through a book or two a month, depending on whether I'm reading a super exciting page turner or one of The Big Important Classics that I occasionally force myself to endure, despite the insistence of my brain that they are so very very dull.

There is one massive literary genre that I've never really gotten into, though, and that is comic books. (And yes! I am going to call them comic books. I appreciate that the term is loaded and that many fanboys will yell at me and say that they are GRAPHIC NOVELS and who the hell do I think I am, a n00b? But that is, in fact, what I am. I'm a n00b. So deal with it. Because I'm nowhere near sophisticated enough to refer to them as graphic novels without sounding like some sort of sad hipster who listens to the Unicorns in horn-rimmed glasses while creating bad manga on an iPad that cost more than my rent. And while the Unicorns are, in fact, awesome, I am not going to call them graphic novels.)

So anyway, I've never really had anything against comic books. I definitely appreciate them as an art form, and I think that storytelling through pictures is just about the prettiest way to combine two media there is. But what can I say? I never hung out with the comic book crowd. I don't go to the comic book bars or listen to the comic book music or drink the comic book Kool-aid. But that doesn't mean I look down on comics. My thoughts on comics are like my thoughts on Portugal; I've never been to Portugal, and I don't really know anything about Portugal, but it's not because I have anything against Portugal. I bet there are actually a lot of cool and interesting things to do in Portugal and I'd probably have a really fun trip! But as of yet, I've never been. Just like I've never really read comic books.

Since you've gotten this far and have not yet ventured over to Wikipedia wondering what in god's name a comic book is, I'll assume that you have at least the same familiarity with comic books as I do. In which case, you might have noticed that comics books have pretty much taken over Hollywood. Every movie that is coming out these days was based on a comic book. Every fucking movie! And I've enjoyed a lot of these movies. 300 was great as both an action movie and a spectacle of delicious, delicious manflesh. V for Vendetta was artful and interesting and reminded me that Natalie Portman would probably be a supercool best friend and that her and I should start a rebellion together and she could tell me all about how awesome it is to be Natalie Portman. And then there's the Walking Dead series, which is pretty much the best thing to happen to zombies since evolution granted them the ability to run. And running was a big deal for zombies.

So I've come to realize that I'm missing out on a pretty key literary genre here. If all of these movies and shows are based on comic books, and they're all so fantabulously watchable, then it stands to reason that comic books should be fantabulously readable, right? That's why I've decided it is time for the Social Caterpillar to read comic books.

The problem is, the Social Caterpillar doesn't really have many friends who read comic books, and because I am the Social Caterpillar, I have no idea how to buy a comic book.

I tried going to the only comic book store I know in my hometown; it's near my office, so I decided to swing by after work. And here's something that my fellow comic n00bs might not know: Comic book stores are terrifying. Seriously - nothing could be more intimidating to a girl who's trying to pass as one of the crowd.

First, I had to figure out what section to look in. There was a bin near the front, something like the bins in used record stores, and it required commitment to see everything in there. I flicked through a few issues before I realized that this clearly was not going to go anywhere. All I could find were old Marvel comics boasting complicated plotlines in Issue #853 of some superhero or other that I would never be able to follow without understanding the whole mythology. But I was already flipping through the books, looking like I was supposed to know what I was doing, and a fellow customer had the audacity to look at me. And let me tell you - he could smell me. He knew. He could sense that I did not belong there. And I don't get it. I mean, sure, the average comic book connoisseur probably isn't a 5'2" young adult female in a black pencil skirt and pumps. I'm familiar with the stereotypes. But what I don't understand was the pure, utter revulsion pouring from this guy's skin.

So I was scared of him. I don't really understand what I did wrong, other than existing and being in the store with him and breathing and looking at things. He could sense an outsider; but he didn't understand that I wasn't a threat! I was only there because I wanted to be in! Nothing could have made me feel less welcome, though, so I decided to step away from the special for-true-fanboys-only bin. I headed to the back of the store, which was lined with weird board games I've never heard of and special editions of regular board games, like Star Wars Clue. (There may or may not have actually been Star Wars Clue. But there probably should be. I would play it.)

Near the board games I saw a section called "Graphic Novels," and I figured that was probably more the section I wanted to look through. But I was met with another problem almost right away. First of all, there were some people playing board games at little tables and they probably weren't paying attention to me at all, but in my head, they were staring and challenging me to pick out something completely not lame.

Second, I knew the kind of thing I was looking for: V for Vendetta, or Sin City, or something else by Frank Miller or Alan Moore that had reached me through Hollywood. (Note: At the time, I also wouldn't have been able to reference Alan Moore by name.) But I also didn't want to be that person - the one who's so culturally shallow that I could only appreciate something after Gerard Butler had introduced me to it through computer-enhanced abs and fight scenes with elephant monsters. So I wanted a comic or two that was like those stories but not necessarily those stories. And my expectations were far too high for my own capacity to buy things. But I didn't know how to ask for "something like those comics but not those comics because I don't want to be unsophisticated and seriously I swear I'm not a poser." I was relying on my ability to just find what I was looking for, but the section that made the most sense was not helpful at all.

Do you know what that "Graphic Novels" section was filled with? The same intimidating not-for-amateurs stuff that had been in the bin at the front. Spiderman issues that would require a lot of reading to catch up, and X-men that don't look anything like Hugh Jackman, and various superheroes called the Green ______ because apparently comic book writers don't understand that there are other colours. And I stood there for about five minutes, just looking, occasionally touching the pages of things, trying to decide whether I should just run for it. I began to realize that it was a terrible idea to come in here, because I could still feel everyone's eyes on me, and they knew, and I was trying to pretend I knew what I was looking for, but I didn't, and I wanted to leave, but if I decided to just walk out then I would be admitting defeat, and then the comic store wins. I found some Scott Pilgrim books, but for some reason I didn't want to buy them. I was interested in Scott Pilgrim, but I felt like buying the series that had recently inspired a Michael Cera movie would be like wearing a "go ahead, quiz me about comics, because you will win and I KNOW NOTHING" sign on my back. Why do I give a fuck what some people I'll never see again in my life care about me? Who the hell knows? But I am the Social Caterpillar, and I was actually a little bit afraid of buying the Scott Pilgrim series even though I really want to read it. I felt like I'd be ostracized. And a failure. And never welcome back.

Then, an employee approached me and asked if I was finding everything okay. And what do I tell him? I tell him I'm fine.

What the fuck? Fine? I wasn't fine! Why did I say I was fine? I had no clue what I was doing. This perfectly nice person wanted to help me find a purchase and I had no idea how to ask for help. So I ask you, dear reader! What does a person even friggin say when they're trying to engage in a new hobby but they don't know where to start?

"Oh! Yes! I would like some help, Mr. Comic Book Employee! Thank you! I don't read comics at all. Not that there's anything wrong with them! In fact, I would like to give them a try. I want Scott Pilgrim or, better yet, something like Scott Pilgrim because for some unexplained reason I feel like you'll laugh at me if I buy Scott Pilgrim. Because of Michael Cera." And then he'd laugh at me and I would have been right to be afraid of the store. 

I ended up leaving the store empty-handed, trying to play it off like they just didn't have the specific thing I was looking for. But they knew. Oh, they knew. And I was determined to buy a freaking comic - so one of the first things I did when I got home was get in touch with my dear friend, who you, Internet, might know as the notorious Maxx Nitro!

Maxx Nitro is something of a comic-reader. He is not necessarily a fanboy. But he appreciates a good dark comic about zombies or badasses or other wonderfulness along those lines. (Like badasses killing zombies.) And I realized I should probably have come to him in the first place. So I told him that I was looking to get into the comic book game and I asked him to help me find some issues that he thought I would like. And he graciously agreed to assist me on my mission to become roughly one-point-six percent hipper. Or less hip, depending on who you ask.

It felt like security. Like I was getting access to some sort of special club. Some sort of underground network of drug dealers and comic afficionados was going to help me score some of their scary, intimidating product. People, I was getting a visa to Portugal.

Maxx and I took a shopping trip back to the same store, and he taught me about Alan Moore. So I bought two of his books. And then we went to Chapters, which I previously didn't know had a comics section. And I don't care who knows it or how boring it makes me: Chapters felt right. I was among friends at Chapters. There were no intimidating fanboys playing Star Wars Clue in the corner and declaring that it was Boba Fett in the at-at with the blaster. There were no confusing toys on the wall that were ready to attack the outsider like an army of white blood cells in an allergy-ridden second-grader. And I had Maxx, who has pretty similar tastes, to help me figure out what to buy.

And I bought two more books! That is four comics! I am so proud, readers. But I have to admit something. Despite my honest attempt to try books that I didn't already have a moviewatcher's familiarity with, three of those comics are books that inspired movies: Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and The Killing Joke (the inspiration for both Tim Burton's Batman and The Dark Knight). But Maxx Nitro satisfied my worries that buying these books doesn't make me a pathetic poser.

And maybe, next time, I'll be ready for Scott Pilgrim.

So be proud of me, and especially of my fourth purchase, Hopeless Savages, which has no association with Hollywood and looks super rock & roll and is bright pink. Because at the end of the day, I'm still just a young woman trying to navigate the scene in a pencil skirt and saucy pumps.


NOTE: I just realized, after typing all this out, that my post title implied I would give some sort of instruction. And I didn't do that. So in the future I will not title my posts before I write them, because now I'm attached to my title and I don't want to change it. So. Here's how to buy a comic book, if you're a n00b like me:

1. Make sure you are functionally literate, or else you're not going to enjoy the comic book.
2. You should probably also make sure you're not severely afraid of zombies. Zombies have a big role in contemporary comics.
3. GO TO CHAPTERS. Stay away from the comic book stores, at least for now. They are scary. They are not for you. You will not be welcome there. You need training first.
4. If you must go to the comic book store, implement the buddy system. This will safeguard you against intimidation and provide a buffer between your pitiful uninitiated brain and the Store of Fanboys. I recommend Maxx Nitro, but you can pick your own buddy if you want. And you should probably buy him a beer for helping you out.
5. Yes, Maxx, I will buy you a beer.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Life as the Girl who Doesn't Like Pizza

I don't like pizza.

Hold on! Now just hold on a second! Before you banish me from the land of People Who Like Things that are Ridiculous to Dislike, let me give you a little back story. Because I'm not sure why, exactly, but when you tell people you don't like pizza, they always demand some sort of explanation. People who don't like coconut or mushrooms or tomatoes or black licorice always seem to get away with their natural distaste for those things without having to justify anything; but for some reason, it doesn't work when you don't like pizza.

It goes like this:

Random whoever: Hey! Caterpillar! Want some pizza?
Me: No, I'm good.
RW: But I can hear your stomach rumbling from here! Have some pizza already!
Me: That's okay, I don't... [audible sigh] I don't really eat pizza. I mean, I just...I don't really like it.
RW: That is BULLSHIT. You are LYING. Everyone likes pizza.
Me: No, really. It's fine, I don't want it.
Me: I don't mean to be any inconv--

So since I can hear your brain screaming even as I type this and you haven't read it yet, allow me to explain.

I've always had a thing about melted cheese. I can't really explain that part, except to say that I'm picky about textures, and melted cheese tastes to me like some sort of fart-scented melted rubber that's on its way to solidifying into that fake vomit crap little boys order out of comic books. But when I was a kid, I could tolerate it in moderate quantities. Unless someone ordered a pizza with tons of extra cheese, I was fine, and I could wolf down slice after slice of the stuff. I mean, fuck, I was a kid; pizza's like friggin crack to kids.

Then, in high school, I dated Pizza Man. Most of us know a Pizza Man or two, and this guy was definitely part of the club; he ate pizza every day. Every. Fucking. Day. Sometimes two or three meals a day. How teenage boys manage this crap without imploding in a mass of grease and salt and clogged arteries I'll never understand, but that's who he was - that teenager everyone knows with the taste for junk food and the metabolism of a healthy young horse.

So while I was with Pizza Man, pizza became a regular part of my diet. And I honest-to-goodness think I overdosed on it. That's right - on fucking pizza. After he and I broke up, and suddenly pizza was less present in my daily diet, and then it came back for a suprise visit, it's like my gag-reflex-controlling-mechanism that had been working overtime against the years of constant melted cheese just gave up. It just up and quit, saying "fuck this crap - no. No. After all this time of constant overwork, you're bringing this shit back? I thought we were done with this? That's it. I'm out. Peace." So since then, for about six years now, every time I've come into contact with pizza, I've wanted badly to be able to eat it, but I just know I'll never keep it down.


Do you know how goddamn inconvenient it is to dislike pizza?

Pizza is fucking everywhere. It's at birthday parties. It's at family reunions. It's at office parties. It's at drunken nights after the bar. It's at the bar. And it's reliable, dude. Because if you're having a bunch of people over, and you don't want to deal with cooking, what do you do to accomodate everyone's unique tastes? You order a fucking pizza! So easy! Everyone loves pizza! It'll be a hit! You can get vegetarian! You can get pepperoni! You can get every ethnic category under the sun! PIZZAAAA!

And then, I show up. And when you don't like something like pizza, everyone knows about it. People talk about it. They gossip about it. So I come into the room, where everyone's enjoying their pizza guilt-free, and everyone freezes. And looks. And says the same thing:

"Oh, no, what are you going to do?"

Have you ever had a roomful of people make a fuss about you because your tastebuds are fucking freaks? Because I have. More than once. And I'm now guarded against it. I'm constantly on Pizza Watch, so I can prepare myself in case I have to be ready. If I'm on my way to a big event, I double check in advance to make sure I can actually eat the food. I recently went to a family reunion with Mr. Caterpillar's extended family in Montreal, and his mother mentioned in the car on the way there that they'd be serving pizza - the whole car went quiet and she turned around and looked at me.

"Oh, no," she said.

I had to quickly - and repeatedly - assure her that it was fine. There were veggies, and chips, and other snacks throughout the day, so I emphasized I'd make sure to just fill up on snacks, then I could probably steal one or two of Mr. Caterpillar's crusts and finish up with a nice hearty dessert. (Bless you, Mr, Caterpillar - bless your heart and the crusts you've given me over the years.) Because if I didn't make sure to tell her that, this would have been the scene at the reunion:

Party host: Pizza's here!
Everyone: Yay! Pizza!
Mr. Caterpillar's Mom: Oh! But the Social Caterpillar doesn't like pizza!
Everyone: *gasp*
Me: ...Oh, it's fine. 
Party host: But we can order you something else!
Me: No! It's fine! I'm not that hungry! [stomach growls loudly]
PH: How about I make you something?
Me: Dear god no, please don't trouble yourself. I really don't need anything.
PH: [whipping out pots and pans] How about a meatloaf? Or a casserole! I can make you a casserole!
Me: I really don't care, honestly!
Everyone: [whispering] She doesn't like pizza?

Do you see now? Do you see what my life is like? I try to be a gracious guest. I really do. But when I go to a party where pizza is served, that involves one of three things - either trying to allow myself to go hungry in peace, so as to not make a fuss, and hope that no one notices I'm snubbing the food; being a demanding bitch who's dissatisfied with the dinner and asking for special attention; or risking eating a slice of pizza and proceeding to quickly throw it right back up all over the host's lovely house. And if you're like me - the painfully socially awkward person who desperately just wants to be LOVED, dammit - you're definitely going to pick that first option as the most attractive. So I go hungry. Every time pizza is served. And hopefully, I manage to do so without attracting a scene.

Just try and think how often pizza is a part of your social gatherings. Just try and imagine it.

For the record, when I'm there, and involved in the ordering process, I usually just order a small pizza without cheese. Occasionally, this involves some convincing on the part of the person taking my order that this is even possible. ("Yes. Yes, I do understand that the toppings may not cling as well to the crust. Yes, I'm sure. No, I do still want the sauce. And the crust. Yes, everything but the cheese. Oh, for fuck's sake - I'm lactose intolerant, all right?")

But if it's a big crowd, or people you don't know well, you don't want to complicate things or make yourself stand out as the Cheeseless Wonder. So if it's a big enough group, you can try and encourage everyone to get excited about ordering chicken wings and garlic bread and convince them that it's just cause you want the variety. But now everyone thinks you're stoned. Or you can lie about being lactose intolerant or vegan, but the former only works if you're going to commit to it, and as soon as someone breaks out the creamy garlic dip or ice cream cake, you're regretting your decision. And the latter? Well, let's just say most vegans don't go for a cheeseless meat lover's.

So as you can see, it's really no trivial matter to be the Girl Who Doesn't Like Pizza. I mean, fuck - it could have been a Stieg Larsson thriller with all the drama it's caused me.

And that brings me to the conclusion. I'm on a mission, friends: I am going to like pizza again. Pizza with cheese. Pizza with melted cheese. I am going to eat it, and I am going to fucking enjoy it, and I am going to control my gag reflex and I am going to be normal.

Do you hear me, friends? Are you hearing this? I'm doing this. I'm committing. I am going to like pizza again. Bite by bite, piece by piece, pie by pie, I am going to acquire a taste for the stuff. I can do this. I did it with wine and beer, and god knows that worked - I can do it with cheesy baked bread with tomato sauce.

And life will, once again, be whole!