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Introverts unite! Separately. At home.

Burt's Eye View

My phone rang the other day. I held it in my hand and stared at the screen.

“Aren’t you going to answer it?” my wife asked.

“I… I…” I gulped. “No.”

“You don’t recognize the number?” she said.

“Sure. It’s Ralph. But I need at least 30 minutes to psych myself up to answer the phone. I didn’t know Ralph was going to call.”

The beast finally stopped ringing. I heaved a sigh of relief. Once again, I avoided social interaction.

I am a card-carrying member of the International Introverts Association. The best part about belonging to this club — no meetings.

Even if there were, we wouldn’t show up. If anyone did, he’d be kicked out of the club on suspicion of gross extroverted tendencies.

We introverts stand united. Separately. In our own homes. Bundled beneath our own blankets in our own easy chairs. Thank you for not calling.

“I don’t get it,” Terry said. “You’re so at ease when you talk to people.”

“In short bursts,” I said. “Then I have to lock myself in the bathroom for 45 minutes.”

“You really need to stop doing that when we go to parties.”

“I didn’t the last time. Another introvert beat me to it. I sat in the back yard for an hour petting their dog.” I shuddered. “It rained, but I didn’t have to talk to anyone.”

I’m sure you’ve heard the wisecracks about us:

• Introverts are social vegetarians — they avoid meet.

• Introverts wonder why would anyone go big when they can go home.

• Introverts don’t get ready for a party — they brace themselves for a party.

• It takes introverts three hours to get ready for a party. The first two hours are spent talking themselves into getting ready to get ready.

• Did you hear about the introvert who couldn’t go outside? He’s allergic to pollen — and social situations.

• I like to party, and by party, I mean stay home and read books.

• An introvert’s hangover is total exhaustion caused by having to interact with people.

It’s not that we’re anti-social.

OK, some of us are. Please go away now.

No, according to the psychologists, pundits and multiple online experts (if you can’t trust the Internet, who can you trust?), the definition of an introvert is someone who needs alone time to recharge. Extroverts get energized in social settings.

I’m not shy. But I will hide behind cars so I won’t have to talk to someone. That’s why there’s oil on my pants — sometimes I’m forced to roll under a vehicle to escape saying, “Hello.”

I thoroughly enjoy performing “Burt’s Eye View Live!” in front of hundreds of people at a time. I love public speaking. It’s when I go off stage and must interact with clusters of people that I have to run home and hyperventilate into a good book.

My phone binged. It was Ralph. He’d left a message. I wouldn’t have to talk. Phew.

“Would you like me to call him back for you?” Terry asked.

“That’s what email is for,” I said. “And texting. Or handwritten letters.”

“It would be easier to call.”

“No.” I felt faint. “It would not.”

My friends at the International Introverts Association would understand. I think so. I could ask. But the first rule of introverts club is this — no get-togethers.

• Write — but do not approach — Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter. He’ll be hiding behind the couch until you leave.