I am socially awkward.

Photo taken on the set of Sunshine.

Photo taken on the set of Sunshine.

The other week I went out for lunch with a friend of mine. He and I worked together a few years ago (when I say “worked together” I mean “I did the web stuff for a film he wrote“). During the time we were working together we’d have almost daily, long, in-depth conversations about belief, religion, God, atheism, meaning, the Universe, the end of the Universe… we’d talk for hours. We’d have lunch and talk for hours. We’d go out for dinner and talk for hours… Because of our conversations, it was one of the most exhilarating and creative times I’ve ever had…

And then it was all over…

And right away I missed him… I missed him a lot.

Despite being married to someone who is on “everyone’s” dream dinner party invite list, I rarely have those kinds of conversations normally (it’s all real life and who’s doing the washing up tonight and where are you going to be next week and yes I’ll put the bloody top on the toothpaste tube if you pick up your damned towels from the floor…;), so, I openly admit, the end of that job left a bit of a hole in my life… We’ve stayed in touch, but since then he’s been writing and producing a few films and I’ve been having a baby, then raising it and, basically, going insane, so we’ve not seen each other for a while.

The other week he sent me a script to read and took me out to lunch to talk about it. (I loved it)

During our conversation I said, “… but I am socially awkward.” He said, “No, you’re not.”

“Yes! I go out to these events and parties and blah blah blah and I have the hardest time having conversations.”

“You’re not socially awkward. You just can’t do small talk.”

“Right. Exactly. But that’s what about 95% of conversations are in the real world and… I can’t do it. I’m such a loser.”

“Why would you want to be able to do small talk?”

“Because… that’s… what… everyone else does…?”

He smiled. I knew it was a stupid thing to say.

“You’re not socially awkward.”

Here are some of my attempts at “small talk” at parties and events recently:

“Great party!”
“I wish it would warm up soon. It’s been so cold!”
“Yea!… erm…So…[clunky segue into the psychological manipulation used in religious cults and “personal development programs” or the female scientists who have been overlooked for Nobel prizes when their male colleagues have won or how ancient Egyptian doesn’t have the same kind of past, present and future verb tenses as in English, therefore the concept of ‘death’ isn’t something that happened to someone and now it’s done, instead, it is something that continues happening forever in the future and how their language may have affected their view of reality and their culture generally…]”
“Annnnyway… I’m going to go get another drink.”
“OK!” [Smiles. Stands awkwardly on my own. Sips drink.]

This is why I shouldn’t be let out of my house.


Our lunch continued and we spent the rest of the time talking about gender and how he sees it as innate and I see it as a social construct (which, of course, it is :). So when it comes to sexuality and what we find sexually attractive, intellectually we want to say we are attracted to people’s minds and personality, but if there are no innate gender differences then what is it that we’re attracted to that makes us “heterosexual” (or whatever)? Physical bodies or cultural conditioning- specifically cultural conditioning based on the fact that one sex can physically overpower the other? What exactly are we building our relationships on…? We had no answers only more questions…

And then our lunch was all over…

And right away I missed him… I missed him a lot.

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