Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Open Mouth: INSERT FOOT!

I'm not sure I should be allowed to talk to other humans, anymore.

I seem to have this weird problem with maintaining even the most vague interpretation of "normal," when I'm talking to people.  Consequently, I'm fairly sure that 99% of the people I meet must fluctuate between being utterly bemused by me, or genuinely terrified, wondering what the hell I'm going to come out with, next.

Seriously, whilst I'm fairly good at holding a conversation (and I can talk the hind legs off a donkey, given the chance), there are frequent moments during which my brain seems to part company with the rest of my body, leaving me to mindlessly fend for myself.  It usually happens if I feel slightly awkward or nervous, for some reason.  I'll be doing a passable impersonation of a regular human being, then suddenly out of nowhere, BAM, I open my mouth and insert my foot.

This happened earlier today, when I went to the doctors for a routine check-up, ahead of being prescribed another year's worth of the oral contraceptive pill (ah, there's nothing quite like being terminally single and broody, but still needing something to control your horrendous periods, am I right, ladies?!).

There I was, sitting in the room, happy as Larry (whoever he is), when I realised that silence had hung over the lovely GP and I for - ooh, a mighty five seconds at least - and I decided, for reasons I don't even understand, to start babbling about the fact that I wish I could have a baby.  Cue my GP looking at me slightly oddly, considering I was there for contraceptives, and asking: "Are you in a relationship and looking to start trying?"

Perfectly reasonable question, really.  I assume, had I said yes, that he would have given me some advice.  But I did not say yes (because I'm not in that situation, obviously).  What I did say, was:

"Oh no, I'm still shopping."

I'm frequently found wandering the high street with my bags of boys...

Of course, the rational part of my brain decided at that precise moment to pop back, just long enough for me to decide that "I'm still shopping" was an absolutely dreadful way of describing being single, particularly when talking to a GP who you've asked for contraceptives.  And so, I then blurted:  

"Oh my God, not like that.  On my last date, I just ate cake and talked too much.  I mean, like, window shopping, not... Trying on."


I have literally no idea why I do this, but the sad fact is, I do it a lot.  Some people are blessed with the confidence and skill to excel at small talk.  I was blessed with no such things...

It started when I was still a kid.  I can vividly recall telling a complete stranger (to me, anyway) that my poor mum "fancies anyone in trousers."  I said it not because it was true, but because I'd heard the phrase somewhere (probably on TV) and my mum had paused to consider her answer after this person had asked her if she had a celebrity crush.  Even back in my youth, I just couldn't quite handle a protracted silence.  I associated silence with awkwardness, even if it wasn't.  And if it wasn't, I would fill that silence with awkwardness until it was.

It's a gift I have.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes: I got decidedly short shrift from my hugely embarrassed Mum, when we got home.  And rightly so.

You'd have thought that I might have learned from that situation that sometimes, a pause in conversation doesn't have to be immediately filled.  And when I'm with my friends, I'm great at shutting my big mouth and letting there be a comfortable silence between us, when one naturally occurs.

When I'm with someone I don't know?  TOTALLY DIFFERENT SITUATION.

My brain screams at me: "This person has nothing to say to you because you're dull; quick, rescue the situation by saying something witty!"

And that, dear reader, has led to roughly a billion terrible puns, bizarre questions and decidedly random comments, over the years.  Such as the decision I made, during a period of what I decided was highly awkward silence on a date, to tell the story of how I accidentally went to see soft porn on stage in Prague (it's a long story).  Because, you know, that's standard first date chat, right?!  "So, I've lived in this town since I was 16, I work as a nursery nurse and oh, I once watched two women sitting on a peach and touching each other's boobs, but it was meant to be Alice In Wonderland and I was very confused and I bit my tongue, trying not to laugh and then I worried that I was being culturally insensitive, but they were topless on a peach and that definitely never happened in the book OR the film..."

I think I just realised why I'm single...

Even worse, is the fact that there have been times when there's not even a silence and I still become overwhelmed with ridiculous levels of awkwardness and blurt out something either inappropriate or just weird.

Such as the time when, after a mechanic fixed my car and jokingly asked: "Whatever would you do without me?" I replied, without a single shred of irony:

"I think I would probably shrivel up and die."

Look, what I'm trying to say is: if you ever meet me, dear reader, don't pause for too long, during any conversation we have.  I mean, at least not until we know each other better.  Because until then, if there's too much silence, I might try to fill it with information you never needed to know, a dreadful "joke" or the kind of ramblings you would expect out of someone who's downed three espresso martinis, rather than a hot chocolate.

And even if there's no silence at all, don't be surprised if I start blurting out weird nonsense.

Basically, I'm exceptionally awkward.  I might manage to look normal.  I might even sound normal for the most part, but the weirdness will come out.  I've had to come to terms with it and I'm afraid you will, too.

I'm going to end this blog here, because... Well, if I don't, I'm probably going to say something we all regret.  If anyone needs me, I'll be in my room, rehearsing "normal person talk."


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