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A Bit on Social Ineptness

May 22, 2012


By a trick of the light, she remembers me.  I see her from a hundred yards away and know with a kind of jolt of youthful nostalgia, that it is indeed the Kiwi I had flirted with exactly two weeks ago.  Big deal, I hear you say?  Yep.  Wait, it gets even lamer. I met her when the moon was full and now it’s a new moon, this being merely a trick of the light between two wobbling celestial bodies – we can surmise a fortnight works nothing but such outward, insubstantial changes on anything, and that includes my social skills.

You will recall the last exchange with this barista was mostly just me trying to coax a laugh out of her, an attempt at which you’ll also recall I failed.  I do not want to at first, I want to give the coffee a miss, just keep going, avoid having to talk to a person TWO TIMES in a ROW; nevertheless, I walk in with as much of a level gaze as I can.  When she straightens up from the task she’s bent over, her eyes, mildly vacant at first, reach mine and recognition slowly enters them.

There’s no other impression to read. I flounder about inwardly for the right reaction to this.  She remembers my face, though in what lights?  I consider waving, but instead I give this little cold-concrete finger-point, ‘you’ that I’ve been doing lately. I just remember she doesn’t smile at me.  At all.

There is some other girl at the register, she’s in one of those official-looking collared polos, the ones these corporate places use to set apart the people with minimal amounts of responsibility from those barely trusted with their own timekeeping.  I let her take my order, incorrectly, while trying to nonchalantly fix my attention on the Kiwi, who has not said anything to me yet.  I am really conscious of trying to strike an even ground between being polite enough that the girl at the register will like me but not mistake the exchange for flirting.  What am I worried about, again?  She passes the order to this blonde barista, and I think hard for something to say.  I am conscious that I shouldn’t think for too long.  Panicking,  I re-join the topic of the last stale conversation as if no time has passed.  The topic had been – wait for it… ‘to-go’ beverages coming in ‘dine-in’ vessels!  Oh, pure pantie-peeler, I know!

‘So… I ended up having to steal a mug the last time I was here.’  That should sound pretty cool.  My ‘to-go’ coffee, on the last trip, it came in a mug, see, which the person serving me let me sip while putting together another in a paper cup.  I vindictively chucked this mug in my bag after I had finished.  There’s a picture of it, above.

‘You did,’ she states in a tone usually reserved for the most unremarkable things that are yet somehow remarked upon.

‘Yup,’ I reply, and the topic is certifiably dead.  Then, with bravery that only comes from profound stupidity, I carry on, ‘it looks great on the shelf in my cupboard.’

She turns to face me, not smiling, sits the paper cup down as she points to a formation of mugs hanging from hooks above the bar, ‘the ones in this design are always disappearing,’ instructively rebuking me.  It is as if she is pointing to the empty teat on the sow’s belly where her piglet had been only moments before, before it was torn away and died of head trauma.  Watch the rest of the exchange unfold along this same tenor.

‘That was me.’

The next bit is fuzzy, as I am nervous.  Remember, I think that I’m flirting with this girl –   she says something like, ‘here’s your coffee, you sick petty thief.”  Trying to be natural, I tell her, ‘I don’t think I’ve gotten your name,’ which comes out as a half-question in a weird tone.  I can’t even look up while I stir the sugar.


I hold out my hand, ‘Greg.’  As I look in her clear eyes I worry, what if my eyes cross or one suddenly goes lazy?  What if she sees some kind of pervy desperation in my gaze?  What am I doing?

‘I feel like we’ve been through this before,’ I’m completely disarmed.  Do I argue with her?

‘I don’t think so,’ there’s the half-question again.

‘Then you’ve forgotten,’ she barbs and ducks away like a boxer.

‘Oh!’ I have to recoil.  I’ve been listening to Andrew ‘Dice-Man’ Clay, so it comes out like him.  I couldn’t get a laugh out of her, and now that I’ve gotten her name, I realise there’s a good possibility that last time I met her I was so stoned that I forgot her fucking name.  I put the stirrer in the little rubbish pot.  I ask for a paper sleeve.  She says that they are all out of those, but I can have an extra paper cup.  I say something like no worries – I’m already turning to leave.  She has two cups held out dead in front of her.

‘Don’t just let me hold these out for nothing,’ she jokes sternly.  I just kind of walk out.

Throbbing embarrassment, then a wave that hey, this is like the most interaction I have had with someone in a while.  Where I still manage to insult the person’s effort to serve me.  I remember she shouts out at me as I’m almost through the door, ‘don’t forget!’  I don’t reply, not even with a tiny wave.

Now certainly I have magnified the situation all out of scale, focusing on the throw-away parts of life that never amount to anything, and moreover have used these parts to construct a false scenario.  I am deluded, as a man in the desert tricks his own eyes with his thirst.  Falling to my knees.  Which reminds me of a comic strip from that stalwart of Hustler magazine, ‘Chester the Molester,’ where a man’s pictured crawling through the desert, and he’s come to two signposts: one points to water a short distance away, and the other path is marked ‘pussy’ but only at quite a considerable haul in the opposite direction… and he’s crawling toward the “pussy!”  What a dick!  Surely he’ll die before he makes it there!  Always makes me laugh.

From → Diary ah?

  1. Dear Greg,

    Did I tell you that my favorite form to play with is the Strongly Worded Letter? Check your notes.
    Ive been turning over our evening in my head all day, really stewing in it and I want to first of all thank you for giving me the oportunity to put it all on the table. More and more I notice how people can talk for hours about easy abstractions like ‘authenticity’ and ‘easthetics’ but they will litterally cringe if you try to bring up ‘form’ or ‘function’ or (god forbid) ‘truth’ or ‘beauty’. I guess we didnt really address any of that but the tone was there and I appreciate it. You helped me untie some knots is all im really trying to say.
    Part of the stew is a genuine curiosity about you, who spent a hours felating my ego under the guise of journalism… What was in it for you?

    Maybe thats a loaded question. I’m asking it anyways.
    With all due affection,

    • Kaile, your typewriter clacks even in hypertext,

      That’s easy – inspiration, validation. Also, I really enjoyed the chance to hang out and socialise. With regards to tone, I guess we never really forget some things. A journalist should surface contradictions by lightly challenging her subject. Also, as a student of philosophy I feel that aesthetics are synonymous with truth and therefore beauty.

      I’m glad you didn’t think I was a dick.


      – G

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