An Encounter with Some Mini Shepherds

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I was enjoying another finely brewed Bedouin coffee when I noticed signs of movement on a mountain far away into the distance. My pals told me they were goats. Ok, I’m going to go and see them then.

After a trek that took much longer than expected, I finally made it to the goats. To say they were stunned by my arrival is an understatement. Who. The. Hell. Is. This. Guy.

Relax guys, I’m just here to look around and take a few pics. I’m just seeing what the vibe’s like up here, don’t be alarmed. They were alarmed. When I moved, they moved. They all just stared. And stared. And stared. You guys are very highly strung. And you’re killing my vibe.

Except for one goat. The Maverick. The Peacekeeper. She defied everyone to calmly stroll down and say hello. She came so close that she even bumped the lens of my camera. We had a moment.

 

02

Then, without warning, the goats all starting running down the mountain. Shit, she’s started a riot. Manners were non-existent. They jostled, shoved and shouted as they all tumbled down the mountain. I asked them to relax and to please not run on my account. I’m just taking pictures. I’m happy to leave if it means that much to you. Maverick goat, tell them to relax! 

 

03

Turns out they were running towards a group of mini Shepherds who were walking up the mountain, one of whom was this guy (he wants to rock). The goats respected him. They trusted him. I felt like saying, ‘Guys, you know this kid is going to kill you all. And then eat you’.

 

04

We all walked down the mountain to their home.

 

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I soon discovered why they were in such a rush to get home. And why they trust the mini Shepherds. Dinner. What a shame that soon you guys will soon be just that, dinner. I didn’t want to ruin their vibe, even though they’d ruined mine, so I kept it to myself.

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These days, nothing but sand. Life in the Sahara.

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After a day’s walking, I saw what looked to be a desert commune in the distance. This made me very excited. I jumped off the camel, ran to the head nomad and said, ‘Can we stay here, can we stay here? Please, please?’. I ran-around in circles like a dog when he hears the leash and works out he’s going for a walk. I ran so fast I tripped over, head first into the sand. I then burst into hysterical laughter. He glanced at me in disgust, and kept walking. ‘Ah C’mon mate, lighten up!’. Strained tolerance. That’s how I’d describe his feelings towards me.

We ended up staying a night in the commune. Whenever I first awoke in the tent, I’d look up and see all the nomads staring at me. I’d get a bit of a fright, ‘Aaaaahh! What the hell did I drink last night? Where am I?’. I then remember I’m riding a camel through the Sahara with nomads. ‘Oh yeah’ (nodding to myself agreeably). I look at them and smile,  ‘So, how are we all this morning?’. I say this in a very strong Australian accent. That’s greeted with a unanimous giggle. I always get laughed at when I travel. I laugh too. Louder. And more aggressively. So as to drown them out and teach them that I’m not fucking a party trick! I have feelings too.

‘So, what’s for brekky?’. I don’t rate Mauritanian breakfasts. At first I thought it was just the hotel I stayed at upon arrival. But it kept happening. Breakfast generally consisted of a massive loaf of bread. I looked at it on my plate, and thought, ‘Hmmmmm’. You know when a dog gets a bone so big, at first he doesn’t quite know how to deal with it, such is its overwhelming presence. He takes a few moments to observe the bone. He might even circle it. Then it thinks, fuck it, I’m a dog, just dig in and gnaw. So that’s what I did. I picked up the monolith and started gnawing into it. It was quite a sturdy loaf, so it cracked my front teeth. I didn’t want to lose face with the nomads, so I just spat the teeth out, laughed, and kept gnawing (I was crying on the inside though). I got about 3 bites in before putting it down saying, no more, no more. I’m tender. I can’t do this. I’m used to strawberries, yoghurt and cereal for breakfast. That’s when they handed me a knife, butter and jam, with a look that said, ‘Patience is a virtue’. Balls.

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The journey from Nouakchott to Atar

Sorry. I know I’m going to keep losing more readers with these excessively long posts. This one is a monster. It’s basically a novel. If it were a novel, it would lack cohesion. It would be shit. It goes off on rambling tangents, and then comes back. Basically like when you chat to someone at the pub. I don’t ramble when I speak, just when I write. The good thing about my rambling is you’re not forced to politely endure it. Unlike when I talk to someone at the pub who has a spectacular inability to tell a story within the 20 minute allotment. And also lacks any ability to see that I’m so bored I’m about to cry. Oh for fucks sake, get to the bloody point man. In fact, don’t bother. I’m leaving.

But I invite you to stay, and click through to the other side….

Continue Reading

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Coffee in Mauritania

I have a very high tolerance threshold when I travel. I can endure the unspeakable. I’ve certainly mastered the art of mute suffering. There’s one exception to this – coffee. Or lack thereof. Weirdly, for all the cultural currency that travel provides, many of my favourite memories involve nothing more than a coffee (or if legal, a beer) and reading one of the many newspapers or magazines I buy on my day of departure. They remain crumpled in my bag for the duration of the trip. I enjoy this pastime at home too, but it’s not quite the same. Either way, if I can’t start the day with a coffee and some reading, I get uncontrollably irritable. Emphasise irritable. Underline uncontrollably. At home I can more or less control this. I have a coffee machine. And I get the paper delivered. Thus, in the mornings I’m capable of achieving a non-sexual orgasm.

In Africa and the Middle East, however, this is beyond my control. I was in a desert settlement in the Sahara, Chinguetti, staying with a part-time nomad (sound travel wanker alarm bells, now). I anxiously knocked on his door with my coffee satchel and said, ‘boiling water?’ ‘Yes, my friend, wait’. He wanted to give me breakfast and coffee all at once. It’s too difficult to explain that coffee is best enjoyed with a book, rather than with food. ‘Ah, maybe now?’. He walked away.

All I ever need when abroad is the boiling water. I always have the coffee. So I never understand why they never let me access the tap. It was the same in Turkey, Iran, Lebanon. Everywhere. Just give me access to the fucking tap.

An hour passed. This is ridiculous. I want my coffee. I walked back over and lightly tapped on his door. ‘Ah yes my friend. Soon’. ‘But you have the tap in there, I can see it. Let me use it. Please.’

Another half hour passed and I was starting to see some weird stuff. I started giggling to myself. Uncontrollably. At nothing. Then I danced to the music in my head. Still giggling. Oh shit, I’m cracking up. I need coffee.

I marched back over. No tentative knocking this time. ‘Hey!!’. I banged very loudly on the door. I banged it so hard it came off. The nomads were all sat on the floor. They looked up in horror. ‘I wanna read my fucking book. And I can’t do that till I have a coffee. Give me the fucking boiling water. Give it to me!! Give it to me!!’. That’s when I walked into the room and started man handling the lean little nomad, shaking him quite intensely. The donkeys, observing the scene from outside, shuffled anxiously. The kids stood up and ran away. I then went to the tap and turned it on. I pointed to it. ‘See. Water, water. Now boil it. Boil it. You fucking cunt. Boil it!! Boil the fucking water!!’. I splashed it at all of them. I then descended into racism. ‘Ay! You speak the English?! You speak the English?! Ching Ching Chong. Watuh. Watuh’. The nomads had a horrified look on their faces, as if to say ‘oh dear. This man is not only stupid. He’s insane’. In my mind, it didn’t matter that I was being racist towards the Chinese, even tough I was in Africa. All the same to me. It’s white or it’s coloured. White power!

An hour later, after I’d unleashed terror on the entire village, storming through doors and demanding boiled water, the village elder caved and gave me boiling water. Before breakfast. I scurried back to my room, talking to myself in a way that reminded me of Gollum. I had my coffee and read 23 pages of Franzen. I felt very content. Aaaaah. That’s when remorse kicked in. ‘Shit, did I say ‘Ching chong?’. I walked around the village, bowing my head and profusely apologising to everyone. ‘I’m deeply sorry mam. I didn’t mean to sexually harass you. I’m not a misogynist. I just go a bit ‘cookoo cookoo’ without my coffee’. I handed out money. Hush money, pity money. They were all very understanding. They’re used to institutional racism, theft and rape from the west. From colonial times to UN peacekeepers. The IMF to the world bank. It’s all in the script. We fuck you. Profit from it. Then we give you money (foreign aid) to preserve the appearance of magnanimity. The generous uncle handing out gifts to the savages. Yesterday it was colonialism. Today it’s globalisation. Tomorrow it’s climate change. White man’s burden and all that. It’s our world. But you’re free to live in it. If you must.

Sorry, I went off on a bit of a tangent there. I’m back now. Anyway, I got my coffee in end. White man always gets his way. Same time tomorrow?

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A Night Out

I recently went to a bar for a friend’s party. I’ve decided I’m never going to these things anymore, unless these two criteria are satisfied: 1: I know more than one person. 2: The volume of the music is low (unless I arrive pissed, in which case it can be loud). The volume was blaring. I was sober. And I only knew one person. That meant I needed to be ‘on’ all night. Because after you’ve had the initial catch-up with the one person you know, you’re then on your own. That means you need to be affable and drag-out conversations to avoid being alone. Y’know, latch onto people. Which is really hard when you can’t hear what anyone’s saying.
‘I’m Adrian’.
‘What?’.
‘Adrian’.
‘What?’
‘ADRIAN!’.
‘Oh, it’s over there’.
‘Cool, thanks’.
I then walked over ‘there’. I walked with intent through the crowd as though I looked like I knew where I was going. Like back to my friends or something. I found another group. In the end I just mimed and nodded. At one point I kept miming after the recipient of my miming had left. I even used my hands to animate the conversation, a bit like a miming clown. I then burst into hysterical laughter, as though the person I was miming to told a joke. That’s when people starting looking at me.
‘Who is that guy anyway, he’s making me feel weird’.
‘I don’t know, he was just, kinda, there’.
That’s when security approached, ‘Excuse me sir, can you please stand over there, you’re making these people feel weird’.
‘I just need someone to talk to. The only person I know has already gone to the dance floor. And I can’t hear what anyone is saying’.
The guard walks me away, ‘C’mon mate, let it go’.
‘Oh right, sorry’.
I gave the partygoers a sorry wave as I was ushered to the corner. I then walked into a bin. The music stopped. Everyone kept their distance. I then pretended that someone called me on my phone. That’s when I was asked to leave.
‘But this is my scheduled night out. I didn’t want to come, but I try and make an effort from time to time. If I had my way I’d spend my time reading the paper, watering my plants and trying to woo the neighbourhood cat into my flat’.
‘C’mon mate, take it outside’.
I pretended to keep talking on the phone. But my phone was on the floor. So I was really just talking into my hand. And because I was so nervous, my mouth was moving rapidly. A bit like I was chewing. Chewing into my hand.
Oh shit, it’s happening again.

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My Concerns

This post will canvas a host of concerns, beginning with the pervasive confines of corporate gyms. In order to maintain my health and sauna addiction, I’m a member of one. Always have been. I’ve written extensively about gym culture and the calibre of self-obsessed arsehole it attracts, so I won’t recycle it here. I will point out, however, that there’s another sinister undercurrent to the gym. If it weren’t for the gym, I would quite literally never be exposed to chart music or any of the useless products companies heckle us with. I would happily sully my purity in the ivory tower of intellectual enlightenment within which I live. Perched high on my throne, scornfully mocking the sheep and the ease with which their minds can be contorted and controlled. Instead, I find myself in the dubious position of having teenage-like knowledge of all the latest chart-topping tracks, and have even begun to find some of them catchy. I find myself saying, ‘Oh yeah, I know this track, it’s a good one’, and start bopping my head, eagerly awaiting the chorus. That’s when I pick up the pace of my workout, ‘Oh yeah, I’m feeling it. Might check out a club tonight too, dance the night away!’ My head happily sways from side to side as I chew gum and attempt a PB in my revealing leotard. Life’s great! (Please take a moment to picture that scene). I also know a lot about cars too, as that seems to be Australia’s greatest passion, occupying around 90% of the media space. They’re like fucked up families, everyone seems to have one. When you tell people you don’t own a car, and have no intention of ever buying one, you may as well say you’re a Boat Person too, such is the scorn with which you’re met.

On a general note, I’m concerned about the guys who refuse to converse in normal conversations. Instead, they feel the need to hector you with quips. Really unfunny quips. So unfunny that they’re really annoying. One or two quips in a verbal exchange is acceptable. But when they pound you with an endless assortment of unfunny jokes, it’s like someone is jabbing you in the leg with a scalpel and forcing you to laugh. So you painfully chuckle, ‘Oh I get it, the woman is a Curry, that’s funny’. ‘Oh right, yeah, now you’re speaking in a funny voice, you are funny’. ‘Oh, and another quip, again, it’s really good’. I’d rather stare blankly, as if to say ‘Are you done?’. But society demands that I converse politely. To be honest, I just feel like abruptly slapping him. Or arriving to work with a large sack of mulch and casually pouring it on his desk. And then strapping nipple tassels to his nose before kicking him forcefully on the arse and bursting into a loud, obnoxious laughter as the fat bastard falls over. Now that’s funny. Take notes, bitch.

I’m concerned about males. I’ll begin with police officers and then branch out to a more general critique of the sex. In Melbourne, the enlightened powers that be devised the genius idea of dispatching male police officers to patrol the streets in very large packs. So, that’s large, bulked-up men with egos and too much time on their hands, patrolling the streets in gangs… that’ll work! It’s one of those ideas that you just wish you’d thought of. So simple yet so stupid. Because nothing ever goes wrong when feral animals, operating on instinct rather than thought, prowl streets in packs looking for something to do.

So now whenever there’s the most innocuous incident, you’ll see 15 burly males surrounding a petrified drug addict, homeless person or disaffected teen. All pacing around, hectoring the hapless pleb and anyone who should happen to cast a curious eye on the antics of the Gestapo brigade. They jot down notes in their little books, stuff like, ‘Remember to pick up milk on the way home’. They also like whispering into their little walky-talkies, ‘Yo, I have a 15 year old school kid in uniform, he didn’t have a train ticket, there’s 20 lads here, what do we do? Over’.

One male is tolerable. Put another male in the equation and it’s precarious. Herd up a bunch of the cretins and it’s a recipe for disaster. Because males are herd animals. And generally pretty dumb. Confident and brash with a false sense of entitlement, but dumb. Why do you think football players pack-rape? Why do soldiers burn Afghan farmers? Why do radical Muslims treat woman as caged animals? Because men are the inferior sex. Physically stronger, but vastly inferior. Why do I never read stories about two woman getting in a fist fight at the pub? Why is it never two females splitting each others skulls open in road rage? Why aren’t any woman manipulating children with pedophilia? Males are a plague, I’m certainly a self-hating one. I apologise to my girlfriend everyday. ‘Wouldn’t you rather be a lesbian?’, I ask. ‘I certainly would’. 

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Adrian and stout, a love story

After the last 5 months of study, freelance and generally ridiculous levels of work, I’m now having some down time. These are my stories.

Lately, I’ve been doing sweet FA. Literally. This weekend I didn’t leave the house. Come to think of it, I haven’t left the house in nearly a week. It’s allowed me to reacquaint myself with the one I cherish most dearly. Stout.

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I bought myself a couple of cartons of a premium drop, and a few nice pint glasses. I also bought a heater and stocked up on political magazines and newspapers. I like to have a pint before midday, just to take the edge off the morning. In order to extract the maximum amount of time with each serving, I drink it very slowly. I gaze longingly into the glass after each sip, gently swirling the liquid, watching the bubbles swim freely in the glass. I then grin and shake my head, ‘It’s great stuff isn’t it. This is great’. It doesn’t matter that I’m alone, I’m happy talking amongst myself when I drink.

After the first pint, I like to take a moment to reflect and give thanks, before I hear a call from the kitchen. ‘I’ll be there in a minute’, I respond. I rise in a very relaxed manner, and slowly head to the kitchen and comply with the request of my dear friend. I slowly pour another drink, intensely watching the liquid fill the glass, paying close attention to the sound it creates. My friend thanks me for my gratuity, and wishes me well with the second serving. ‘Anything for you’, I say.

The pouring of each glass is one of the highlights of the day, because it’s the point at which you are farthest from having finished the glass. It’s like the first day of summer. I head back to my spot on the couch, and begin another newspaper. There becomes a point – usually after the third or fourth pint – at which a threshold of pleasure is crossed, before pleasure-levels experience a slight decline. This is because I begin to feel drunk, instead of beer-happy-tipsy. It is one of the great dilemmas of enjoying a 6.2% drop consistently throughout the course of a day. No matter how much you regulate your intake, the inevitability of drunkenness is impossible to escape.

It is at this point I begrudgingly pause my work to take a nap and sleep it off. The slightly drunk, mid-afternoon, weekday nap is always a delight, after which I gingerly rise to check the latest news developments before opening the fridge. I grin as I see my dear friends jostling amongst each other as they volunteer to do the honours. ‘Relax guys, you’ll all get a turn’. It is at this point I begin to notice the neighbours chatting to each other while pointing at me. They may be saying something like, ‘He sits in there in his pyjamas all day, drinking. I think he’s a junkie’. I scowl at them and close the curtains before returning to my dear friend; the only one who understands me.

At 6:30 my girlfriend comes home. I drunkenly turn to greet her, and slur ‘Fancy a drink, love? I bought two cartons. Loverly drop’. ‘How long have you been drinking?’. ‘Let’s not get bogged down in the specifics, what’s important is…..’, at this point I trail into a blabbering monologue of political diatribe, before she walks straight out again. I sit there in a haze, already having forgotten what just happened. I rise to pour another drink, but fall over, spectacularly crashing into the empty bottles, breaking them to pieces. I look at my dear friends, smashed all over the carpet, and panic. ‘Oh no, what have I done?!’. I drop to my knees, crawling frantically as I try to pick up the fragments of glass, profusely apologising to my dear friends as I attempt to glue them back together. It’s at this point I realise the futility of my attempts, and let out an agonising scream, clutching the smashed bottles against my chest, crying hysterically. I then fall asleep. It’s 8am before I wake up. Disoriented, I roll over, causing my face to press against the shards of glass. Covered in blood, I’m also sweating profusely from the heater, which has been left running all night, as has the news, which is humming in the background. Newspapers and broken bottles are strewn all over the floor. My girlfriend’s phone is switched off; she didn’t come home, again. I slowly clean the mess and begin to compose myself before beginning my day.

I like to have a pint before midday, just to take the edge off the morning. In order to extract the maximum amount of time with each serving, I drink it very slowly…

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Toilets in The Workplace

I’m introducing a new initiative that seeks to critically analyse the lavatory conditions of the agencies in which I work in 2014. The initiative will assess conditions such as privacy, proximity of lavatory to colleagues, number of cubicles, urinal dividers and height of doors. Toilets are a vital part of the workplace, the comfortable use of which is a fundamental human right.

Assessment 1: A medium-large design agency in affluent south yarra. Expectations: high.

Analysis: extremely disappointing. It is clear the owner of the company has no appreciation of toilet culture. The space within the lavatory is very small, meaning tension in the toilet is always high. Two urinals only, close proximity to one another, no divider. This means upon entering the toilet and seeing an anxious colleague hunched at the urinal, you are forced to make a snap decision: hunch next to him with little hope of the privacy needed at high risk of stage fright, or conduct a walk out. A walk out is a sign of weakness, especially if the urinator turned to look at you upon entering.  It is a no win situation.

The location of any workplace toilet is critical to its success. The toilet of the agency in question is located in the heart of the workplace, meaning that if you should suffer the misfortune of needing to do a poo, you are required to do the walk of shame. It also demands a silent poo, so as to avoid colleagues hearing the soundtrack to last nights dinner. The tiny lavatory space means your only chance of ever achieving a poo is to hope no-one is in the lavatory upon entry. If the coast is clear (and clean), a panic poo is encouraged. This means pooing as fast as you can, the aim being to have finalised your poo before a colleague enters. If you poo fast enough, you can create the impression to your colleagues that you were simply doing an extended pee, followed by some vanity in the mirror, thus avoiding the walk of shame. However, If you are mid-poo when someone enters, you are required to make a critical choice: a) pause your poo and wait until the urinator has departed, creating the possible question ‘what’s going on in there?’, or b) continue panic pooing, suffering the humiliation of having your poo sounds heard by the urinator, who is less than 2 metres away. The pooer suffers the added ignominy of knowing that the only thing separating he from the urinator is a flimsy cut of timber, the length of which is barely sufficient for even the most minimal expectation of privacy.

Post-poo, the pooer is forced to wash hands and escape immediately, so as to avoid allocation of blame for any undesirable results of the poo. This creates a knock-on effect of blame. An innocent urinator may unfairly be assigned blame for the lingering smell of a previous pooers work, if they should happen to be washing their hands as a colleague enters. This is known as the ‘Lottery of Blame’ theory.

Faced with this grim scenario, your correspondent chose to hold it in. If you attempt to conduct a hold-in, you are advised to limit coffee intake, and avoid cereal for breakfast.

The lavatory of this otherwise savvy agency is to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Referral to the regulatory body is recommended.

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Stuff & Shit has returned…

..with a post about cock & balls.

Alas, my time away has not been used to class-up the blog. I am who I am, please don’t try and change me.

I’ve recently returned to Melbourne after an extended period away. One of the first tasks was to visit my Dad in hospital, and introduce him to Adrienne.

It was all going smoothly as introductions were made and seats were taken. Then Dad attempted to rise so that he was seated on his bed. His movements caused a bit of a Sharon Stone moment in Basic Instinct. The left leg rose and it was ‘Hello Boys’, as we discovered he was electing to go freestyle under the hospital gown. The difference between this moment and the one in Basic Instinct, was that this one lasted an eternity. I looked at my girlfriend and she was very anxious, her eyes darting from side to side, desperately searching for a place to occupy her glance while my Dad’s cock and balls dangled like decorations on a Christmas tree. Rather than attempt to ease the situation, I just sat there and smirked, ‘this is great’. (To clarify, it wasn’t the sight before me that was great, rather the awkwardness it created. I love awkwardness when it’s not me and will do all I can to exacerbate it).

I did eventually alert dad to the situation, ‘Dad, your cock and balls are showing, how about putting them back in the cage mate, this is a family show’. The cocktail of drugs under which he lived, meant there was a 5 second delay in response time. Any five second period where you have another mans weary penis taking an unsolicited sideways glance at you, is a very long 5 seconds indeed. So to paint the picture, the one eyed snake is looking at Adrienne, the 2 eyed patient (Dad) is looking at… well, no-one. He’s staring blankly into space. I took another look at Adrienne to see what the one eyed snake found so interesting, and discovered she had turned a much brighter shade of red, and a look of sheer panic had engulfed her face.

I then mused, ‘She is meeting my Dad for the first time and he’s already showed his penis. Her dad waited 3 days before he attempted to show his’. It happened in the basement, everyone was upstairs, and he said, ‘Hey new guy, say hello to my little friend’. That was it. I retorted, ‘You’re a sick man Mr B, get some help mate’, and returned upstairs to join the festivities. I never told anyone, until now. Predictably, there was a cover up. It’s a shame you didn’t cover it up in the basement, mate.

Back to my Dad’s penis. Eventually Dad snapped out of it and realised what was happening before making the appropriate adjustments. As fun as it had all been, I was happy with his decision to close the curtains on the show and refrain from any encores. I then turned to Adrienne and said, ‘Now that you’ve seen my Dad’s cock and balls, it’s only natural that I should see your Dad’s, again’. Adrienne promptly phoned her father with this most peculiar of requests, and preliminary arrangements were made. The finer points were still to be ironed out, (Skype viewing or in person? How many people? Private show or family show?) but the first building blocks toward this momentous occasion were put in place.

After that I said, ‘Ok, shows over’, said my goodbyes and went home.

The End.

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My Life As A Socially Awkward Person

For the past 32 years, I have been socially awkward. These are my stories.

I often don’t hear what people say. This is a problem as it often kills whatever momentum a conversation has. For example, someone tells a great story or joke, and I somehow don’t hear the crucial first part which provides the context. Then, instead of listening to the rest of the story and catching up, I’m berating myself for not asking for the first sentence to be repeated when it was said. Now I don’t know what they’re talking about. And instead of looking intrigued by the story, I look worried. Which is making them worried. Shit, this isn’t going to end well. The story teller finishes the joke/story and it’s my cue to respond , ‘Um…………………… Sorry….. what?’. ‘What do you mean what?’ ‘I didn’t hear what you said.’ ‘What do you mean, which bit?’ ‘A bit of the start, and the end bit. And some of the middle. Well I heard it, but I was sidetracked with my own thoughts’. If this is a stranger at a party or social gathering, right there, that interaction is now awkward. Because of me.

If I hear the whole story, but only miss the end, sometimes that’s worse. Here, let me explain. If I can clearly hear all of what is being said, and I’m actually listening, then I’ll be genuinely engrossed, which in turn encourages the story teller and builds momentum. As the story teller continues with their story, they gradually master their rhythm and tone, all building toward the great finale of the story. And, for whatever reason, I miss it. ‘Oh wait, what was it?’ ‘What was what?’ ‘What was the joke bit?’ ‘What do you mean? You don’t think it’s funny?’ ‘No, I mean yes, it’s funny, I just didn’t hear what you said.’ ‘Which part?’ ‘The joke bit’. ‘Sigh. Its gone now mate. I’m not saying it again.’ ‘Oh, sorry’.

The worst is when I don’t hear a simple, ‘Hi, how are you going?’, and I have to say ‘Wait, what did you say?’. They say, ‘What?’. I say ‘I didn’t hear what you said’. ‘Um, I said hi’. ‘Oh, sorry. Hi.’ no interaction will ever go well if it starts like that. And I think to myself ‘Dammit! I should have just said hi and not asked any questions. It sounded like he was saying something else though’. Then I lament the fact that I am the only person who could find a reason to apologise to a stranger before I’ve even said hello.

If I’m conversing with a bunch of tall people, it can be difficult to integrate, thus creating social awkwardness. Sometimes I get knocked out of the group altogether. Like the time when a tall guy stepped on me. I don’t mean he stepped on my foot or anything like that, he stepped on my whole body, head and all. I actually got stuck on the base of his shoe. For 4 days. It meant I missed 4 days at work, but no-one noticed. I came in on the friday looking all flat, and they said, ‘Oh yeah, right, I forgot about you. What happened?’ ‘Got stuck under a tall guys shoe.’ ‘Cool.’

I never remember people names. That’s why my girlfriends name is Adrienne. Of all the personal traits that create social awkwardness, this is the one I’m working hardest to improve on. It’s ok to ask for a reminder of someone’s name once, but you can’t do it twice. At work, at any one time, there will be at least 5 people, with whom I’m regularly conversing, who’s name I don’t know. So I have to ask a person who’s name I don’t know, for another persons name I don’t know. And so on. There is a time limit on how long you can go without knowing someone’s name before it becomes downright offensive. I am always flirting with that limit. Like if you’ve been having regular verbal interaction with someone at work, and it gets to the 3 week mark, and you aint got a clue what the hell their name is. There’s no way back from that. You can’t ask anyone, because they’ve all seen that you’ve been talking to this person for the past month, and now even they will even be offended.

My face doesn’t help either. Sometimes, I yield a very dark disposition. It’s not that I’m pissed off or unhappy, it’s just the way it naturally settles. It looks like a dark cloud. Deathly. People often say that when they look at me they see death. It makes people uncomfortable. I have to explain it to them, it’s just how it looks, it came like that, you should see my baby photos, they emit pure hate. I’m actually really happy. It doesn’t make them feel anymore comfortable. It makes them feel awkward. Socially awkward. Like a dark, dark cloud is in the room. So I’ve started smiling all the time. When I get briefed at work, I smile. I smile on the train. I smile in the mens room. I’m like a bad Getty image or ad, I just smile.

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