On paper (or screen–showing my age here), I am eloquent, witty, erudite, logical. At least I like to think so. I’m not here to argue my delusions. The reason I can believe myself those things is because I can edit and revise before my words become public. Because in real life I stammer often, I transpose letters often, and I just say stupid, awkward things. I always warn people I’m in-person friends with that I will, at some point, say something either insulting or inappropriate when I didn’t mean to.
Case in point: Many years ago, I met a famous, successful author at a book signing. She outsells me by orders of magnitude. I won’t mention her name because she is rather well-known (not Nora Roberts). It was a free book giveaway at a writers conference; her line was long, so I didn’t have a conversation with her. Just a week before I had read a review of her latest that said her books were all the same. I was thinking about that review–don’t ask me why it stuck in my head–while waiting to meet this author. So what do I say to her when I get to the front of the line? “You’re books are all the same, but you suck me in every time.” Yes, I actually said that. She was magnificent; never blinked or said anything rude back to me, and handed me her book with a smile. But from the shocked look on her face, I know she heard me.
What was I thinking? Yes, there is a sameness quality to her novels, but the sameness is her style, her voice that envelops me like a warm comforting blanket when I read her. I read her before then, I read her now. I still enjoy her books tremendously, and several appear on my keepers shelf. Why couldn’t I have said the blanket thing to her instead? I started to worry about her remembering me for that stupid line. I know she meets a million people who have said stupid things to her, but we tend to remember those people, and I believe I stick out anyway at a woman’s conference because I’m rather taller than most attendees. But it’s not like we wear honking big name tags that advertise who we are. Oh, wait, we do. It’s a conference.
A few years later I passed her walking down a hallway, and our eyes connected. She smiled at me, in friendly manner. I immediately turned my head away so she wouldn’t see me. Yeah, ’cause that works really well walking down a hallway when you’ve made eye contact with someone. Mortification can make you do stupid things. So in essence I’ve snubbed her twice.
Another example: when talking about a subject and someone makes a humorous observation about that subject, I often don’t laugh. I understand it’s a joke, and I understand the humor. It’s not even that I didn’t find it funny, but for whatever reason it’s not funny enough for me to laugh. I will then proceed to address that point as if their joke was serious. I know it wasn’t; I just missed my part of the underlying social cues needed for a non-awkward conversation. For some reason this happens all the time with my sister. With others too, but at least once per conversation with my sister.
We all have our quirks.
Books I’m reading now:
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (Yes, I’ve seen the show)