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Friday, March 15, 2013

A Big Bang Theory: Why I'm Just Like Raj

How many of you are big fans of the CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory”? I can count myself as one.

The series, which stars Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Rauch, and Kevin Sussman (as of season 6), has been a ratings smash for CBS since it debuted in September 2007, and consistently ranks within the Top 10 of most viewed shows of the week. It's easy to see why. With the cast chemistry, the brilliant writing, and the culture shock of mixing beauties with geeks, it's a recipe that makes people craving more.

And, I have a confession to make. Looking at each of the characters on the program, I find myself completely identifying with one of them.

But...which one?

Well, it's definitely not Leonard (Galecki). To me, Leonard's always been the smoothest guy of the entire crew (well, as smooth as a group of sci-fi addicted self-admitted nerds could be), and frankly, I know I'm not that smooth at all. I'm also not female, so I can cross the three female characters off of that “who am I most like” list...although, I suppose I could identify a little bit with Bernadette (Rauch). We both appear sweet and kind at first glance, but push our buttons, and we can complete explode in a rage.

Surprisingly enough, although Sheldon (Parsons) is my favourite of “The Big Bang Theory” crew (I did a blog entry on Sheldon back in December 2011), I don't really see myself as a Sheldon clone. We both have our eccentricities, yes. But, I am not obsessed over a cushion on the sofa, or need to be sung the “Soft Kitty” song whenever I am feeling sick, sad, or lonely. And, while I realize that opinion is subjective, I don't consider myself to be as much of a self-absorbed jerk as Sheldon!

So, that leaves Howard (Helberg), Raj (Nayyar), and Stuart (Sussman). I can tell you right now that Stuart and I have the comic book thing in common, but that's about it. And, Howard and I are so completely different from each other that I don't even know of one thing we have in common.

Believe it or not, I'm most like Raj. And, I know it seems a bit strange for me to identify with Raj the most, given that our backgrounds are so different.

I mean, let's start with the obvious. Raj was born in India and immigrated to the United States to study astrophysics. I was born and raised in Canada, and wish to pursue a career in the arts, but somehow got pulled into a job where I have more knowledge of dairy products than I really should have. Raj was born into a very wealthy family where he grew up in a large family. My family wasn't quite as large, and not nearly as wealthy. Raj's fashion sense is...peculiar. And, my fashion sense is...well, okay, mine can be just as peculiar. At least I own up to it!

But, there's one major personality trait that Raj has that perfectly describes the kind of person I am. One trait that may explain quite a lot of things. Although I will state that I am definitely not as bad as Raj is in this regard, I can sympathize with what Raj has to deal with in each episode of “The Big Bang Theory”.

We both have trouble talking to the opposite sex!

I'll be honest with you. Brutally honest. A large part of the reason why I am still single is due to the fact that whenever I am around the company of females (especially single and available females) that I don't know, I am always the one to always get tongue-tied. I stumble my words, I never say what I want to say, and I come across looking as if I am speaking some sort of foreign language. Now, whether it's extreme nerves, a lack of confidence, or a little bit of both, I don't know. But, I've always had this problem opening up to people.

It boggles my mind a lot because when I am typing out my words in this blog, and putting pen to paper, I am absolutely fine. I could probably write a love poem, or jot the perfect message of love inside a greeting card, or write passion-filled stanzas inside those little cards that accompany bouquets of flowers without any difficulty whatsoever. But you ask me to translate that passion into a spoken word monologue, and I can't do it. I don't know why I have such trouble with this, and in all honesty, I don't know if I'll ever find the answer. But, you know, I also have the optimistic belief that if something is meant to be, it will happen, so I've not lost hope yet.

But, hey, at least I'm not as bad as Raj is! Whereas I get tongue-tied in the presence of women, Raj goes completely mute! A constant running gag of the show is that Raj can speak to his mother and his sisters without any problems whatsoever, but whenever Penny (Cuoco) comes over to visit Sheldon and Leonard, if Raj happens to be there, he will not say a word to her. In some cases, Penny gets so frustrated with Raj that she'll randomly exclaim “REALLY?!?” whenever he stays mute. At best, he'll only communicate through facial expressions, or using Howard as a soundboard.

Of course, there is one thing that can make Raj sing like a canary in the presence of women. And, considering that St. Patrick's Day is in three days, this would be a perfect time to talk about the one thing that will make Raj talk to any member of the female species.

Pictured above is the cocktail known as the “Grasshopper”. It's an alcoholic beverage that is made with crème de menthe, crème de cacao, and fresh cream, which is shaken with ice, and strained into a chilled cocktail glass.

RELATED ADMISSION ALERT: I cannot drink a “Grasshopper” without puking. The last time I downed one was maybe a decade ago, and I had a really bad experience with it. That's all you need to know. I'm more of a “Screwdriver” kind of guy.


Okay, so “Grasshoppers” are not my cup of tea. For Raj, when Penny made him one to drink, he started to go on...and on...and on...much to the shock of his friends and Penny. Apparently, if Raj savoured the sweet taste of alcohol, his tongue immediately loosened up, and he became an open book.

In many ways, I completely am like Raj. Alcohol tends to make me loosen up as well. I never dance, but if you get enough alcohol into my system, I'll do the Macarena, the Hustle, the Electric Slide, and the Face-Plant!

(Yeah, that last one was caused by trying to go out an exit not realizing that it was a wall...which probably explains why I don't go drinking all that often despite having some idea as to what my limit is.

And, Raj doesn't have to rely on just “Grasshoppers” in order to communicate with the females. Any sort of alcohol will do. I remember even watching one episode in which Raj ate a slice of cake with rum baked inside of it so that he could speak with a female FBI agent! And in another episode, he was chatting it up with actress Summer Glau while he was drinking a beer, but the minute Raj found out that the beer he was drinking was non-alcoholic, he went back to being his classic “I can't speak to women without alcohol” self!

And, don't think that it's only alcohol that makes Raj open up to women. Raj has gotten prescribed medication to assist with social anxiety disorder, and in both cases that he used the medicine, side effects have occurred. In one case, he ended up being able to speak to Sheldon's sister, but it left him with involuntary hand movements. And, in a second instance, he created quite a stir at an Internet cafe..., that was something all right, wasn't it? Thankfully, I don't think that I will ever recreate the scene posted above, even if I were under the influence of prescription drugs!

But, you know something...I often wondered if maybe I have something similar to Raj? I always had the thought that maybe I have a mild case of social anxiety. That maybe the reason why I have such a hard time meeting new people is because I'm very anxious around them. It certainly makes sense in my mind. Even though I've gotten a lot better when it comes to meeting new people, I still feel a sense of nervousness whenever a new person starts at my workplace, or whenever I am meeting someone for the first time. It takes me a while to open up to people. In a few instances, it takes a really, really long time. Here's the thing though. I've never officially been diagnosed as having social anxiety, but it certainly makes sense compared to some other theories that people I know have had in regards to why I've had social issues. But those I'll save for another day.

The point is that deep down inside, I know that people like me. And, on “The Big Bang Theory”, Raj certainly has his friends and allies. Despite the fact that Raj can't speak to women, he's managed to form friendships with Bernadette, Amy Farrah Fowler (Bialik), and Penny. Heck, on one season finale episode, Raj and Penny ended up sleeping together!

(Though Raj and Penny were both under the influence of alcohol at the time.)

The point is that Raj and I are very similar. We're both decent guys who have a lot to offer to someone...we just have that one thing that makes it a little harder for us to express ourselves than others. However, Raj is starting to open up a little bit more each day, and he's even beginning to speak to women without relying so much on alcohol.

And, I'm beginning to find a way to swallow my fears and open up a little more...but I think that it'll always be a challenge. Learning how to handle it is the key. And, I'm getting a lot better at it, much like Raj.

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