I’m not good with names. I’m worse with faces.
Predictably, it makes for incredibly awkward social situations.
For instance, any time I walk through the grocery store and see someone who looks vaguely familiar, I’m a deer in headlights.
Rather than risk being misconstrued as: (A) too lazy to have looked you in the eye when we first met so I might recognize you one day; or (B) suffering from an undiagnosed case of amnesia … I duck down another aisle.
I’ll pick up that prescription some other day, I tell myself (and my allergies).
I actually blame my weakness on the fact that, at heart, I’m painfully shy.
I walked to school looking down from kindergarten until I graduated from university. Okay, that’s not quite true. I drove to university and looked down when walking to class. Which explains my inability to find some of them.
All of this simply to avoid making eye contact. And, by extension, small talk.
I suck at small talk. I live in fear of forgetting how to speak when I must spend more than a minute or two with people. Not even just strangers. People I know. Sometimes I’m even related to them.
Some people might think I’m purposefully ignoring them. That I’m stuck-up.
I’d be lucky to be stuck-up. Instead, I’m pathologically afraid of forgetting some important detail in their lives. Did she ever get that divorce? What’s the name of his son who played baseball with mine for six years? Are we related?
Social shyness is something that many writers suffer from. For the most part, we’re all just stuck in grade school where we were too tongue-tied and/or nervous to speak up.
It made it next to impossible to figure out long division when I was too nervous to stick my hand in the air and ask a question. It also made it very tricky to get permission to go to the bathroom, as none of my teachers were psychic. I just crossed my legs tight and tried not to think about it. And resigned myself to career options that didn’t involve rocket science. Or accounting.
So, shyness not only made me a social outcast, it cost me a job at NASA or Deloitte. I’ve suffered, I tell you.
So, if you ever see me in a store, a bank line, or at our high school reunion, don’t be offended if I don’t say hello.
It’s not you. It’s me. (Unless you gained a ton of weight and lost all your hair since I last saw you in Grade 13 making you unrecognizable. Then it’s you.)
P.S. Here’s a photo of a cherry pie I baked yesterday. (You’ll notice it’s not professionally lighted. Because I’m all about authenticity. Except for using make-up. And this may or may not be the hair colour I was born with.) But the pie rocked. Just wanted you to know that I may not remember names and faces but I can read the Crisco box.