The parable of the shy slut: or, what do me, Hannah Gadsby and my cat have in common?

pussies
Firstly, apologies to Hannah Gadsby for using the word “slut” in reference to her name. I’m sure this is not a combination that is commonly typed into search engines. But, hey, I thought if I use the word in the title, my blog might get a few more hits.
So, yes, what do comedienne extraordinaire Hannah Gadsby, girl-cat ordinaire Domino and me, journalist and wannabe everything have in common?
The answer is, we are all introverted extroverts.
I have occasionally described myself as an inhibited exhibitionist. There are tons of wild and crazy things I’d love to do, if only I had the chutzpah, the bravery, or the super-hot bod. Sometimes I do them. Having a shower naked outside in the rain, for example. Standing on stage telling jokes. Eating dinner in a restaurant with my shirt off. (If you define Pizza Hut as restaurant.) What I wouldn’t do if I didn’t have the bounds of propriety or insecurity to hold me back. That person you saw streaking through the park the other day, that may or may not have been me. But oftentimes people describe me as “quiet” and I think, noooo, you just don’t understand.
I’m not the only one. Recently I met a lovely guy who described himself as an introverted extrovert, or a shy slut (and hooray for the non-gender-specific use of that word). I understood immediately. Not only am I something similar, so is my cat. She is skittish, jumps at everything and her meows and purrs are so tiny you can barely hear them. But touch her fur and she’ll be rolling on her back with a coquettish “give me more”, looking up at you with big vortex eyes. She likes attention so much she even lifts her tail for the vet when he is taking her temperature (up the ass) and she struts the streets most evenings advertising her wares with her tiny bell-like meow. When I was overseas one time, my flatmate and her boyfriend had taken to calling Domino (Dom Dom for short, or sometimes Sub Sub) a little kitty slut. They said to each other, “We better stop calling her that. Sally’s coming home soon, she might get upset.” But as soon as I walked in the door, I bent down to greet my kitten with a “Domino, how are you doing my pretty little kitty slut!” They were surprised and relieved. (Don’t worry, she doesn’t get offended. She can’t understand human.) But the fact that she had these two opposing sides to her personality just made her interesting and unique.
The other day I met a really cool guy at a workshop. Let’s call him Ken, because his name is actually Ken. There were maybe 50 people at this workshop and Ken was the quietest guy in the room. The facilitator said to him, “Do you know that by being the quietest guy in the room you actually stand out? By being invisible you’re actually very visible.” Ken had no idea. But when he grabbed the mic, all our impressions of him exploded. He was articulate, voluble and funny. We didn’t want him to stop talking. He made us laugh so hard.
I said to him later, “So are you the guy who is quiet in a room full of regular folk but get yourself in a small group of your friends and you can be the loudest, funniest one there?”. “Exactly!” he said. The two personalities were so “contradictory” it was hard to believe they existed in the same person. But a few beers at the pub and an exuberant, animated, rolling conversation with Ken later proved that they can.
So many of my friends are like this. Quiet geeks who may not fit in to the rest of society, but get them in front of a group of their own “tribe” and they can’t shut up. They’re the life of the party, the centre of attention and some of the wittiest, most entertaining people you’ll meet.
Which brings me in a roundabout way to Hannah Gadsby. I interviewed the deliciously dry comedienne for U on Sunday magazine, ahead of her shows at the Brisbane Comedy Festival this week (March 11-18).
Her new show is called Exhibitionist. In it, she talks about our fascination with the selfie and looks at selfies through time (self-portraits, that is). The award-winning comedienne seems like she was born to this. But before she stumbled into this comedy caper, stood on stage and discovered she had an uncanny ability to make people laugh, she was shy, introverted and sometimes didn’t want to leave the house. Being on stage today, however, she feels perfectly comfortable, chilled even. So relaxed she says her heart might stop beating. And comedy has come a long way to improving her confidence. She may not be the centre of attention at a party, but she’s no wallflower either. She’s brave and badass in a quiet, self-effacing way.
So don’t judge a book by its cover, or a song by its volume. As Walt Whitman said, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.” And I’m assuming he wasn’t talking about all the microscopic bugs living in his body. (Which reminds me of the Valentine’s Day Scabies Incident, but that’s another story I’ll spare you here.) So yes, Myers-Briggs types be dashed, it’s perfectly possible to be a little bit of everything.
You can be an introverted extrovert or an inhibited exhibitionist or a shy slut (or a sly shut if you’ve had a few). Hell yeah is the answer! And long live them all too.
This blog is brought to you by Ugees cafe, West End, where I wrote it.
PS I wrote this blog feeling bold. Then I edited feeling unbold and wondering why I’m drawing attention to myself? But screw it.
PPS I’d love to know how you contradict yourself too!

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One Response to The parable of the shy slut: or, what do me, Hannah Gadsby and my cat have in common?

  1. David says:

    I dated a beautiful, quiet girl, with soft skin and gentle eyes who I was always afraid I’d frighten off. Turned out she was lead singer for a band. I described her as a closet extrovert and she smiled shyly.

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