Monday, 27 May 2013

Social Interactions That I Don't Understand

I’m not a very good human being. By that, I don’t mean that I’m a bad person. In fact, I am morally rather middle-ground. I will contentedly drown a kitten, but I won’t film it on my phone. Rather, I have never been able to master the quotidian social interactions that collectively make us well-adjusted human beings. Things like:

1   Encountering Someone You Know in the Street

With the prevalence of social media, this can be a problem for anyone with a tendency to add on Facebook anyone they’ve ever briefly met at a party/bought a car from/ejaculated into. Indeed, it’s a problem that can sometimes be solved simply by crossing the road or vaulting into a front garden. The difficulty arises when through a quirk of geography a fleeting encounter becomes inevitable. My face begins a complex launch sequence of approximated appropriate shapes. First, I must pretend not to see them until the very last second to avoid staring intensely at their approach as if I plan to hit them with a thunderous clothesline.


At the moment of contact, my repertoire consists of an erratic nod as if I’m suffering from dropsy, a taut smile indicative of a wandering butt-plug, and a torrent of sweat that steams from my armpits like alfresco urine on a cold winter’s day. Combined, it’s possible that I suffer a small stroke upon every encounter.

2     Kisses as Greetings

What I formerly believed to be the exclusive jurisdiction of chick-flicks and wankers, this touchy-feely greeting has sporadically, yet firmly, muscled its way into my life. It raises so many questions: single or double kiss? Which side should I start on? Will the recipient smell the Chilli Heatwave Doritos I ate for lunch?

Are there people out there who think me rude for neglecting to press my quivering lips against their flesh and call them darling? For all I know I should be kissing my kitchen fitter, smooching the self-checkout supervisor, and puckering up for my... Proctologist? (Excessive alliteration is another social barrier I don’t understand). Of course, if I misjudge kissing propriety I risk the screaming disdain of women. Which leads me to...

3     Sex

I’ll keep this brief, due to its personal nature and the fact that I’ve had barely any sex to complain about (I’ll leave that up to my unfortunate partners). My record speaks for itself. The first girl I ever kissed proceeded to throw a pint glass at my head. All of the women who have ever been unfortunate enough to have me love them promptly hooked up with my best friend of the time. My last few dates have ended with frosty silence/drug abuse/accusations of homosexuality. Sex remains an unfathomable enigma to me, the machinations of which instil a terror great enough for me to exile myself to a life of loneliness, regret, and masturbation to increasingly bizarre forms of pornography.

4      Not Talking About How Much I Hate Myself

A slew of internet searches and randomly encountered dating profiles have told me that I need to have confidence. This flies in the face of my usual technique when I run out of things to say: draw the conversation toward some negative aspect of my person.

“Sorry, when I’m nervous I sweat like a panful of well-prepared asparagus.”

“Oh man, I’m really bad at self-deprecating metaphors.”

“Have you noticed this weird rash on my face?”

“I think I have Weil’s disease.”

This isn’t limited to everyday conversations. I do it on dates. I do it in job interviews. If the opportunity arose, I’d probably do it during sex. My personality is constructed entirely on a foundation of self-hatred. As to why I can’t help but spew it at others, perhaps I’m just trying to be funny. Perhaps I want to push people away. Or perhaps I’m hoping that, one day, I’ll be able to believe the people who tell me I’m not as bad as all that.

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