I Don’t Do Well With Crowds | I Don’t Go Out Much

Chris is vomiting out the window on our way to Grumpy’s. We’re pulling over so Pete can drive. Today is going to be an excellent day. For so many reasons.


This summer, I spent four weeks in Sarasota working on “No Real Than You Are,” a short film in which I had been cast. The last stuff filmed (on the last day of principal photography) were the exterior shots of a house party. My character had no dialogue but it was important for the audience to see that my character is there, at the party. So even though I had nothing to do, I had to be present so the camera could pick up on me at some point, if only for a second.

I had the lead male role in the movie. Throughout filming, everyone on the production team treated me like I was the coolest motherfucker on the planet. It was easy to feel important. (I wasn’t/I’m not, but in the context of this film: sure). Since this was a party scene though – and since I had no important part in it – there were a ton of random people on set and, so far as they all knew, I was just another extra.

For most people, I have a feeling that none of this would be an issue. But – for me – it kind of was. It’s embarrassing, but I’m not good in situations where I’m just an anonymous part of the crowd. I need to have something to do, to somehow stand apart. At shows, since I don’t play them myself these last few years, I need to be selling records or working the door, or – at least – have someone to hang with (with whom I’m thoroughly comfortable and at ease). Otherwise, I have to go hide out somewhere every so often, if only for a little bit.

But I couldn’t do any of those things here. There was no performance required of me. There were no records to sell. The people I knew (the production team) were busy with the scene. And the people I didn’t know… I don’t want to be judgmental and I’m sure anything I was picking up on was more about my own state of mind then anything they were doing…. But it might be possible that there was something to it. After all, it’s a little strange that – in the city in which I grew up – of the people that came to this party (even if it was a *fake* party) I didn’t know a single person. These were the people that came out to a fake party on a Thursday night so that they could be be seen in frame in this movie. And that strikes me as a really shitty thing to say and I know I should be grateful that they came because the movie needed them. You can’t film a party without people. And shit – I’m sure a lot of them came out just for that reason; some of them were probably there just to support the film.

Really I’m just trying to explain (or justify) why I didn’t make new friends by talking to some of the people around me. It’s my own failing.

Instead, I sat there with a pen and paper, isolating myself as a hundred people excitedly milled around me, until I felt like it was reasonable to ask the unit production manager to prod the director and cinematographer in my direction, so they could get whatever the shots they needed. And I asked her to “find me a friend” – someone for my character to talk to, so that he wouldn’t appear to be as much of a mentally disturbed, self-absorbed twerp as the actor playing him. (For that “role,” we recruited the producer. It was good; he got a cameo and I didn’t have to talk to anyone I didn’t already know).

It’s not that I think I’m “better” than other people, it’s just that I’m (sometimes) terrified of them.

Here’s what I drew as I sat alone at the party.

"I Don't Do Well With Crowds." 7/16/13. Pen. 8x11½”.
“I Don’t Do Well With Crowds.” 7/16/13. Pen. 8×11½”.


And here’s another similar drawing from another similar night.

"I Don't Go Out Much." 5/18/13. Pen on scrap. 3x4¼”.
“I Don’t Go Out Much.” 5/18/13. Pen on scrap. 3×4¼”.


  • Both cartoons are available as 5×7″ prints.

5 thoughts on “I Don’t Do Well With Crowds | I Don’t Go Out Much”

  1. Sorry if you mention it somewhere, if so I didn’t catch it. Were you young when you started getting high regularly? Sounds like you may have skipped the developmental stage called “the imaginary audience” that’s key to forming identity or individuality. It happens to all teenagers (teen angst, etc. etc.) and if not processed with a clear head it leaves painful social anxiety which can appear as narcissism to others. Here’s an article that defines it briefly, but you seem like someone cool enough to seriously want to figure out all his shit so I recommend researching it in more depth with a pro. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201204/it-s-fine-line-between-narcissism-and-egocentrism

    1. This is sort of funny. Writing (publicly) about my awareness that my impressions of a situation are likely the product of my own eccentricities (rather than anything anyone else is doing) is evidence that my self-centeredness falls far short of narcissism. I’m very much aware of how my own experiences and personality color/filter everything that I perceive around me. And how my own behavior might affect others.

      This, on the other hand, an online diagnosis proposed ANONYMOUSLY (and publicly) rather than by email (with a name attached to it… Not so much. Imagine for a moment that someone anonymously suggested to you that you were somehow defective and – in spite of the fact that you’re under the care of mental health professionals (and LIVED under their care for more than a year, until just recently – advises that you take their suggestion to a professional so that it can be addressed.

      Did you not realize how incredibly offensive something like that might be?

      It’s a good thing that I’ve learned (through intensive mental health treatment) that your words and actions do *not* have anything to do with me. Thankfully, I can recognize that they say far more about you than they ever could about me.

      I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you had no ill-intent and this really was just well-meaning (but misguided) feedback. And if that is the case, then I really do appreciate your comment, in a sense. So thank you.

  2. My intent was the opposite of opining that you’re defective, actually trying to say you shouldn’t be so hard in judging yourself in social settings because what you’re feeling is normal. especially for someone who got involved with drugs as a teen. You’re upfront about your drug use so I didn’t think you’d take offense at my “helpful” observation. And the advice to talk to a professional was only because you said you’re already doing so and there’s more to be gained talking to someone who knows what they’re doing than trying to glean significant personal insight from an internet article recommended by a stranger. Been through it myself and just trying to pass on some help to a fellow traveler on a lonely road too-often traveled. Good luck to you, meant with sincerity, not sarcasm.

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