There are times when my lack of social grace can be a tad embarassing. Luckily, I have a wife and a few friends who’ve seen me occasionally act like a regular human, so my public faux pas aren’t completely crippling. Just humiliating is all. Oh, goody.
My latest social gaffe — that I know of, anyway — came on Tuesday night. I play pool in a league on Tuesday nights, because I’m just that sort of dirty reckless heathen. I know billiards is the ‘gateway game’ to snooker and punting clubs and betting the farm on Nicaraguan jai alai. I still don’t care. That’s how I roll.
“She wanted a greeting, not a life story. Also, she probably wanted to not be peed on, and I couldn’t guarantee that wouldn’t happen if I returned to her table.”
On this particular Tuesday night, I felt the call of nature and decided to take a trip to the little boys’ room during one of the games. Our table was across the large room from the bathroom area, maybe eighty feet away. I was in the middle of a close game in a tight match, so the walk gave me a chance to strategize and clear my head. It was a nice added bonus to being able to play without hopping back and forth and crossing my legs during every shot. I really had to go.
As I wiggled my way to the rest room, I passed a table where two people were playing. The person not shooting was a girl I’d played a few weeks before. She’s a very good player, and knows a lot of the players from leagues past and spending off-nights in hte pool hall. We hadn’t talked much during our match — crippling social deficiencies, remember — so there was no reason to believe she’d remember or recognize me. By the time I passed by her, I forgot she was even there.
So of course, she said something to me.
(Friendly people always throw me off. I’m beginning to think I was raised by wolves. Lonely, isolationist, clumsy hermit wolves. With howl impediments and mangy coats, living in caves away from the rest of the pack.)
Specifically, what she said was a cheery, ‘Hello, hello!‘
Just as I passed by, deep in thought, lost in my own little world, and full of piss and vinegar. Or in this case, piss and Guinness.
It took me a step to register that she’d spoken — and more preceisely, had spoken to me. I was past her already, but a sunny greeting from a friendly stranger requires a response, so I did my best to reply in kind. As I turned past the table, I looked back over my shoulder and said:
Or grunts to that effect. Basically, she said ‘hello’ and I made Wookie noises at her. And not in the good way.
Meh, what could I do; she caught me off guard. I don’t expect people to actually speak to me in public. Especially people I don’t know, and particularly people who obviously have normal people nearby they could be talking to. She’s lucky she got a grunt; I’m sure I’ve failed to register unexpected salutations hundreds of times, and just kept on walking. I don’t mean to be rude; I’m just an idiot.
I briefly considered whether there was any way I could fix my error. But I was now twenty feet away from the girl — screaming ‘HI!‘ from across the room didn’t seem measurably ‘better’. And walking back to explain the situation and my unfortunate pitiable condition wouldn’t help much, either. She wanted a greeting, not a life story. Also, she probably wanted to not be peed on, and I couldn’t guarantee that wouldn’t happen if I returned to her table. So I kept on walking.
And when I was done, I walked around her table the other way, to avoid any sort of spontaneous ‘fixing’ I might feel compelled to try. I’d much rather just chalk up another perfectly nice person who thinks I’m a douchebag, and get back to my sad little hermit wolf cave out in the hills. It’s just easier that way. Plus, the TV reception out there is phenomenal.