Al Green was famously “tired of being alone.” Me, I’m great at it.
As an introvert, I can happily spend hours in my own company, behind my own walls. So I figured this period of quarantine would be much easier for me than for many of you. And I was mostly right.
Wednesday, as all us nerds know, is the day new comic books come out. That's just an inviolable law of nature. Has been for decades, come hell, high water, famine or flood. But last Wednesday, there were no new comics, no Superman or Wonder Woman, or Daredevil or Fantastic Four. Apparently, the novel coronavirus forced the printer to close.
It's a small thing, yes, an infinitesimal, inconsequential thing as measured on the scale of worry, fear and loss now gripping America and the world as we grapple with this pandemic. It's not even the first concession I've had to make to this era of social isolation.
To the contrary, I’ve made my peace with no Lakers games, no dining out, no plays, movies or concerts. Not to mention with late-night talk-show hosts flinging their punchlines into a dead silence where studio audiences used to be. All of it, I’ve accepted stoically, if reluctantly. That’s why I was surprised at the little pang of loss I felt upon learning that on top of all of that, Wednesday is now just ... Wednesday.
Eventually, I realized it wasn’t just — or even primarily — comics I was missing. No, it was the comics shop — my peeps, my community, a nerdy group bound by the same goofball passions, with whom I spend a few minutes each week kibitzing about nothing very serious. It’s my equivalent of “Cheers,” i.e., the place where everybody knows your name.
Turns out even introverts need a place like that. Ask Susan Cain. She literally wrote the book on introverts. It’s called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” In a telephone interview Wednesday, she spoke of how people like us are weathering this period of enforced solitude.
“There are some ways in which this is much easier for me than it would be for an extrovert,” she said, “because I’m a homebody to begin with. I don’t feel the pull to go out every night. ... But it’s not like it’s a picnic for me, either.”
Cain said she’s working on a new book. "All my life, I have always done my writing in cafes which, for me, is a daily joy. To be able to go to the cafe, sit with my latte by a sunny window and feel the energy of friendly people around me, while I go into my own world and write. ... It’s just an incredible creative stimulus for me and a deep pleasure. And obviously, that is no longer for the foreseeable future.
"That's a real loss," she said. "I don't mean to overstate it, compared to some of the other losses happening around us now. I'm just saying that there are ways in which even if you lead a quieter existence, you're still having some degree of choice taken away from you in some of your daily pleasures."
There is a spirited back and forth on social media these days between extroverts who are bouncing off walls and introverts who are discovering they had a superpower all this time and didn't even know it. To quote one popular meme, we were social distancing before social distancing was cool.
All true. Still, it’ll be a while before I again take for granted the murmur of voices in a crowded restaurant, the laughter of a studio audience ... or kibitzing in the comic shop about nothing very serious.
I thought this would be easier for me than for many of you — and it is. But it turns out "easier" and "easy" are two entirely different things.
Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald. firstname.lastname@example.org