This is ONE OF 3 responses to VC 32 Holly 3 ("Paul's ticking")...
My idea of how this all started was via objections to Paul's frequent contributions of magazine articles in lieu of more voice cards of his own composition. I think Paul made some kind of noise about not being able to think of things to write about, or maybe I just thought that might be what was going on - so I suggested some topics that centered around revealing himself through voice cards. (Here, I think Paul deserves credit, as he has since made a valiant effort.) Then I believe it was Drury who introduced the what-makes-Paul-tick component of this project.
But getting on with the discussion, it seems clear that much more goes on inside Paul's head than he lets on. Although this could be said about most people, I think it's probably especially true in Paul's case. Also, I've noticed he's an astute observer who seems sometimes to prefer that mode to a more participatory one. This might in part explain his having a good time at the party that he didn't seem like he was enjoying - perhaps it was an observational form of enjoyment.
Paul certainly is capable of contributing his share to a conversation, even approaching a yakking-it-up mode from time to time - but he has to be interested in the topic and comfortable with the people he's talking with. I'd say Paul has a fear of small talk and a wariness of strangers.
The episode of the placemats, however, remains a mystery to me. Maybe he forgot to thank the gift giver or sent a note that got lost in the mail or got confused about who gave him what. Perhaps someone else could shed some light on this issue.