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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

And now is a good time to be concerned

"Know thyself?" If I knew myself, I'd run away.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The other afternoon, after a perfectly acceptable morning of grunts and sighs and the occasional toppling tower, Amy, Noah and I ventured to Chipotle. And while in line, Amy and I were conversing about the shittiness that is cancer when a woman behind us caught our attention and began conversing with us, while completely polite. What was said is beyond the point, nothing insulting, just friendly discussion pertaining to what we had been talking about. The problem is that had I been a normal person with acceptable conversational skills and had not been raised by (apparent) heathens, then I would have spoken back. Or at least done something a little bit more intelligent than nod and smile and say “Oh wow”, then intensely stare at the burrito makers (FYI, they really do make the guacamole right there). But I’m not a normal, intelligent person who is able to hold a conversation. Amy, on the other hand is, while I couldn’t get away fast enough. It was all very awkward, not on the part of anyone else of course, but because I cannot hold a conversation with strangers. And even if one is not a stranger, well that can get a little confusing (and, I’m wincing right now) and well more awkwardness and bring on the vino!

Apparently I bleed gauche behavior which people are soon going to see as rude and then I’ll have to you know, talk back and use coherent sentences and I won’t be able to die a little inside every time I’m poised with a question or idle chatter. It seems that I cannot handle speaking (to those I do not know well) without great trepidation. Which is a little sad and weird, I might very well say because what kind of people brought up a child who cannot answer a question such as “Would you like fries with that?” without hemming and hawing? Who are these people who raised a daughter who gets tongue tied so very easily and well this whole going into politics thing might not work out if I can’t answer ‘yes’.

I’ve learned to do the whole nod and smile thing pretty easily and I can do whatever you damn well ask me to do (and more!) with a drink in hand. The latter, I think needs to be worked on given that some people might like to speak to me while sober because it’s noon. Though I am a firm believer that at noon, it’s happy hour somewhere, but I suppose that some do not see that as a valid excuse. But I have been getting better. There was an evening where I was thrown into the mix of many, many millionaires and I held my own and drank San Pellegrino, silently. I only spoke when spoken too and it appears that I can say both my first and last name, while shaking with my right hand and holding a drink (water!) with my left. Alas, a miracle.

Though lately I’ve just been thrown into these really awkward conversations where I don’t know what to say and my whole nod and smile deal is the only thing that will get me through. Then I pray silently for it to end and all of my 45 minute conversations are actually only 27 seconds. Really there must be a name for it? Fear of speaking to strangers? I dunno.

Come to think of it, I highly doubt that its roots are genetic. I wasn’t raised by heathens, but instead by those annoying people who feel the need to strike up conversation while waiting in line at the bank. Which begs the question as to whether or nor procreating helps one gain the ability to commiserate and speak with strangers with ease. Something to ponder I suppose or maybe I’m just prone to awkward behavior and conversation. But it’s always one extreme or the other; either I’m too shy to talk and stand at the same time without going into hysterics and/or a blank stare, mouth open (horrific) or I get so comfortable with people that I’m prone to licking (possibly unsanitary, and yet The Swiss* is mighty tasty):

And somewhere in there, is a happy medium.

*Have a very Happy 33rd year, my dear. You deserve it.


Anonymous Dana said...

That picture is hilarious! It makes me smile to see y'all smiling and being silly!

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Lissa said...

I am the same way and yet people strike up conversations with me all the time. I try to give the stay the hell away from me look, but I fear it's the come talk to me I am lonely look that is coming across. I nod and smile while secretly I am saying shut up can't you see I don't want to talk to you! I'm glad to know there are others who feel my pain.

11:37 PM  
Anonymous guinness girl said...

Funny - I'm the exact opposite. I've been trying to reign myself in, though, because I recognize that this trait is annoying. Why is there no happy medium???

12:00 AM  
Anonymous alyndabear said...

Classic picture!

I am terrified of talking to people I don't know (real talking, not blog talking, I don't shut up in blog talking!) but when it comes down to it, I can actually FORCE myself to do it.

And I think I cover it up okay.

Must be the teacher in me, I don't know.

12:33 AM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

You talked to me, a stranger, just fine at BlogHer. Though I did shove a red stapler into your hands and make you pose with it. And you did, also, have a drink in your hand, come to think of it.

I got much better at talking to random strangers when I became a journalist. I had to - my job depended on it. Now I apply those skills to real life - keep asking open-ended questions and people think you are amazing and interesting, because you are interested.

1:09 AM  
Blogger DC Cookie said...

I would say blog happy hour is your happy medium.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

Dana: And I'm not even drunk. Yes that glass is empty, but I had just arrived, totally sober. And yet I lick! Because I love!

Lissa: Yes, I do feel your pain. Yest most of the time there is no look, just a blank stare and my mouth starts to form words and yet all that comes out is "sksidkalksudfysl". Eloquent, I know.

GG: I don't know. But if you find a happy medium between ignoring strangers and licking people, let me know.

Alyndabear: Oh yeah, via blog I can talk and talk and talk. But in real life, it's like deer/headlights (or in your case Kangaroo/headlights).

Suebob: Yes, and I was totally trying to play it cool and yet, I was dying inside. But! Recall that everytime after that I was all "Hey Suebob!" Come to think of it, I was probably drunk. Damn.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

dccookie: During blog HH, I'm actually pretty good. I don't lick people. Yet I have a good time and mingle and have yet to fall over from having to talk to a stranger. In fact the one time that I did have a lot of conversation, Velvet kept looking at me like I was crazy because she thought that I never speak.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Gooseberried said...

"I can do whatever you damn well ask me to do (and more!) with a drink in hand."


12:47 PM  
Blogger Bone said...

If only licking someone's face was socially acceptable in all situations. Then your problems would be solved :)

11:20 AM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

gooseberried: sad, but true.

bone: again, sad, but true. Now, what shall I do about my little phone phobia? Though I must say, it's gotten better.

1:21 PM  

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