Misadventures in Social Cues

For my 16th birthday, my parents  arranged to surprise me with my first flight! This was before the days of cheap air fares, when families tortured themselves with car trips that lasted a week and made Mummy drink until she couldn’t feel feelings anymore. I left the house at about 4.30am with my Dad and  my sister, Nina, under the guise of having to go to the seafood market to pick out some fresh crayfish for my party that evening. We’d then go into town where my Dad would buy a celebratory breakfast for us! I was so excited! Breakfast! In the city! Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn and ended up at the airport. We had to park so that Nina could go to the toilet, and as we walked through the goddamn airport, I still stood there wondering if all the good seafood would be gone, sold to people with better bladder control and a more reliable sense of direction.

“Hold this,” Nina said, handing me some papers. She stopped rifling through her bag, and stood there, with a stupid grin on her face.
‘OH MY GOD LOOK AT IT!” she yelled, flapping the flight ticket in my face.

Several years later, I went on a date. Of course, I didn’t actually realise it was a date until he tried to kiss me. Um, whoa, what’s going on here? I have a boyfriend!  I mean, I thought we were just two workmates going bowling, playing pool and having a drink. I even thought it was weird when he gently touched my thigh in the car but I guess his hand slipped. Is that what a date is?

At a work function last year, I was speaking a senior manager who I didn’t yet know very well. We started talking about music, and discovered a shared love of Leonard Cohen. For those who don’t know, he is a wonderful poet, artist, musician and frequent visitor to my Fantasy Land and Happy Place. I happily explained that when attending his concert, I wore my most beautiful lingerie and a dress that wouldn’t wrinkle if left in a heap on his hotel room floor. After a few moments of considered silence, he said “Well that’s a very interesting story to tell about yourself.”

And that’s the crux of it, folks. I’m missing whatever magical sense it is that lets others read between the lines, that picks up subtleties in human behaviour, and that knows that you really shouldn’t talk about breasts in a job interview.

I didn’t get that job, and I definitely didn’t get Leonard.

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