Why I Cringe: Confessions of A Socially Inept Human

I pride myself on being a semi-functioning human, or a humanoid-looking domesticated cat. Sure, I can take care of myself and even to some extent, of my hunting-impaired human counterpart; but if you try to make me interact with another human, I’ll just as likely scratch its juicy heart out as purr.

Thus, going out in public is a minefield of social cues that I, in my feral kitty mentality, may or may not catch.

In a cafe, after receiving my order of milk and cookies.

“Have a nice day!” says the barista.

“Love you too!” I reply, because I’m conditioned to reply like that before bidding goodbye to my parents. Why my dumb brain equates this stranger to my parents, I don’t know.

“I don’t love you…unless you really want me to. Fuck, should I just leave? Sorry, I didn’t mean to say fuck, I meant f…fornicate! That’s worse. Um, should we exchange numbers now?”

By the time I finish talking, the barista is guffawing and I’m blushing scarlet, wishing that I could just disappear. Poof! No more Ella. The world rejoices.

On the bright side, I sometimes get the barista’s number because I’m just too awkward to resist, apparently. On the down side, I have trouble moderating my voice, so I’m usually talking very loudly as I try to fumble my way out of awkwardness…meaning that the entire cafe ends up laughing at me, because I’m yelling.

I swear, there’s one ice cream place that knows me as the Girl in a Skirt Who Loves Everyone.

Look, it’s not my fault that I’m an idiot. Blame my imagination, because I never pay attention to what’s actually happening; I’m too busy constructing my reaction faces to a variety of fictional scenarios that may or may not happen.

In a grocery store, day dreaming as the food items get scanned. 

“That’ll be $30.52, miss,” the cashier says.

I stare vacantly at the food.

What if a burglar shows up, and demands for the money inside the register? Should I interfere, jumping in front of the bullet to save the valiant, steadfast employee’s life? No, if I have time to jump in front of the bullet, she has time to move out of its way. 

“Miss? Do you have the money?”

But then, what if she doesn’t move out of the way, and gets hit? The burglar will panic and run away, hoping the security cameras- are there security cameras here?- don’t catch him. I should probably jump over the counter and try to staunch the bleeding. But how will I do that? And is my phone charged so I can call 911?

“Miss?”the cashier almost shouts. I jump, startled out of my thoughts.

“Do you remember how to tie a tourniquet?” I ask her.

She raises her eyebrows incredulously.

“Do you remember how to pay for your groceries?”

“What? Oh yeah! Yeah, of course. Sorry.”

And once again, I blush so hard, my face looks like a stop sign. Seriously, I should just replace my face with a stop sign, because people need to STOP when they see me, and run in the other direction.

Do you see the problem? Walking outside- if the sidewalk doesn’t make me trip and fall in my high heels- is a dangerous activity for those obsessed with politeness (yes, I am a stereotypical Canadian, don’t rub it in. At least I don’t say “eh”). What if some guy starts talking to me about his awesome dog, and I don’t even notice because I’m too busy imagining what would happen if the branch of that oak tree fell and broke my leg? I’m 73% certain that that actually happened before as I was waiting for a bus to come.

So, what makes you cringe? Let me know in the comments!





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