Like most writers, I can be a little socially awkward at times. Every day conversations can be somewhat scary and run-ins at the grocery store are, more often than not, absolutely terrifying. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t come up and talk to me if you happen to see me doddling about downtown. All I’m saying is, if you do approach me and I have not necessarily had time to ready myself for human interaction, don’t be surprised if our conversation goes something like this:
I promise, it’s not because of you.
You see, when I am suddenly jolted into conversation mode, no matter how much I like talking to the other person, I am also jolted out of my mind palace, a transition that puts the gears in my head on overdrive. Suddenly, even the simplest of conversations takes immense amounts of effort.
Small talk? Fine. I can get by. After all, it’s basically like following a script.
“Hi, how are you? Me? I’m fine. How’s school? What class are you in again?”
I’m cool with anything I can aim or bounce back at you. Because, believe it or not, I’m putting this much energy into keeping myself from shying away because I actually want to hear how you’re doing and what you’ve been up to.
It’s when the conversation turns toward the subject of my life that I absolutely panic.
You’re like: “What have you been up to?”
And then I’m like: “Uh…not much. I’ve been doing a lot of sitting at my desk and staring at my notebook lately.”
“Oh, really? That’s cool.”
And then we stand there smiling at each other because I honestly cannot think of anything more interesting to say so my mind starts freaking out like: Am I supposed to say something? I can’t think of anything to say. Am I being boring? Is this awkward? This is totally awkward. She totally thinks I’m awkward. I have to say something! But what do I say? I don’t know! Just open your mouth! Something will come out!
And then silly noises and raptor claws happen…
My advice to you for when this happens is to pretend one of two things. Either that you didn’t see or hear anything and simply bring the conversation to a close and go about your day. Or that I just asked you about your life story and begin telling me all about your childhood. Not only is it fun to hear about other people’s childhoods, but the extensive story will give me a chance to recover from my embarrassment and prepare myself to start communicating like a human being.
Third option; make a silly noise back.
I realized that this was a possibility recently when I meowed at one of my roommates friends at the local food co-op and he meowed back.