I will be the first to admit that I am an incredibly socially retarded person. I can honestly say that I get nervous meeting new people, often because it means that I will have to make effort to listen, process words and do other things like ‘smile’ and ‘be polite. Vomit. I have developed a patented go-to phrase that helps me meaningful interaction that is a passable response to 99.9% of anecdotes. If I ever use the phrase, ‘That’s Crazy’ you can be pretty sure I’m not listening to you. I’m not an idiot, I’m sure people can tell just how socially inept I can be sometimes. My worst telltale sign would probably be how I give/receive greetings and farewells. I once shook a baby’s hand. That’s a lie, but it’s not far off.
Greetings are especially shit, how are you meant to tell what an appropriate response is. This is a comprehensive list of questions that go through my head.
Do you shake hands?
What if they’re a girl?
What if their hand is in their pocket?
Is that a sign from them that they don’t want to shake your hand?
Do you go in for a kiss?
Open mouth or cheek?
One cheek or both?
Do you hug at the same time?
How close is the hug going to be?
Should we do that hug where you both sort of lean the upper body forward so that your genitals don’t touch?
Should I really be whispering ‘You smell nice’ in their ear during the hug?
All of these simultaneous and regular questions often render me somewhat paralysed when greeting people of uncertain familiarity. I think that I’m being really chilled and cool about it all, and I’m like ‘Hey,’ giving a little smile and a non-committal wave of my hand in a weird perfect circle. How can they not help but embrace me and yell ‘FRIEND!’
I look like this
The truth is I probably look more like this
I decided to move on from this approach, and went in to boldly greet and embrace people with the level of affection that I, personally felt toward them. After a week I had to surrender my shotgun to the authorities, proceeding that I then resolved to do the same thing, except excluding ‘inflicting harm’ as an acceptable form of greeting. This resolve was met with mixed success. With some people it worked pretty well, and I felt much better about interactions with human beings. At other times
While initially embarassing, it usually set a precedent for future greetings meaning that it was absolutely clear in both minds (probably just my mind, who am I kidding, no one thinks this much about greetings) what the appropriate greeting would be next time.
The other night while out with Blair we ran into E.T. who was someone I knew from around. We hadn’t really spent much time together of late, due to Alice having had a huge falling out with E.T. however since Blair was still on good terms I thought that maybe me and E.T. were still friendly. We were in a group sippin’ on whatever it is gay boys sip on and E.T. approached the group and went around to greet everyone in the circle.
I was the last in the group to be approached, of course. I watched as he went around the group kissing everyone on the cheek and giving them a hug, and finally after an eternity he faced me. I went in for the cheek kiss and hug and already halfway into the action I am alarmed by his outstretched hand awaiting a shake. It was too late to change the trajectory of my greeting. I received a quick jut into my stomach and awkwardly pecked his ear. He could be forgiven for thinking I might not be into the close contact, as my best friend compares him to feces quite regularly, but at least now he knew that I was okay with the familiarity he showed everyone else, and exclusively excluded me from, right? Right?
At the end of the night the same circle somehow formed (gays like to make circles: fact) and again he went around saying goodbye to the group. Here it came. The glorious moment where we could synchronise our levels of friendship in an equal and unawkward farewell.
He fucking went in for the handshake again.
I yelled ‘What the fuck is up with your handshakes?’ and started walking away.
So friends, and fellow sufferers of greeting paranoia (all 3 of you) sometimes the issue isn’t you, sometimes the other people really are just dicks. Seeing how this post has been a 800 word rant about how I can’t say hello and goodbye properly lets file it under : Reason Why I Haven’t Been Laid in Months.