Friday, January 16, 2009

Revisiting Small Disasters In Everyday Conversation

Last year, in early summer, I had a series of awkward and unusual public encounters with strangers. I wrote about two of them: The Staples Girl and The Guy With The Shirt. I wrote, at the time, that I am the reason for these run ins. I am incapable of saying anything not-loserish when making small talk. I make other people uncomfortable.

But lately it seems the tables have turned (not entirely turned, just rotated about 80 degrees) and now I'm certain that other people are at least a little bit responsible for making me want to slap myself in the forehead.

I have two examples. Please note that while both of these examples involves me purchasing alcohol, I maintain that I drink just as much as the next person my age.


1. The Grocery Store
Last week I made a trip to the store after work to pick up some things for dinner. Among them, a bottle of wine. At the checkout, the cashier, a man in his 40s, asked to see my ID. I presented it to him, he took it, then typed my birth date into a keypad. He waited a moment, then nodded, then handed me back my drivers license. "How very thorough," I thought to myself. (But did not say out loud. See? I'm improving.)

Just as I was stuffing my license back into my wallet, he asked, "Do you know what day of the week you were born?" The former fake-ID-user in me froze up. He's trying to trick me! Think fast! Wait, I'm 26. What's his damage?
"Uh..." was all that came out of my mouth.
"How do you know that?"
"It comes up on the machine when I type in your birthday."
"Wednesday. Well, guess I brightened up Mom's week!" D'oh.
"Yeah it's a fun fact." This guy may seem like he was just being tons o' fun, but in actuality he was not laughing or smiling or joking. Just talking. No emotion, just words. As if he were reading a dinner menu aloud or something.

By I was trying to laugh and make jokes like a normal human. And so even though I came off looking like a buffoon, he was the asshole with the secret little ID machine, asking me if I knew what day of the week I was born. So there!

2. The Liquor Store
On Saturday evening, I left the nail salon, where I'd gotten a relaxing pedicure, to go meet up with Devin at a friend's house. Knowing that he and the friend were probably drinking their usual, vile drink --diet Sprite and vodka-- I figured I should pick myself up something more appetizing. So I stopped by the liquor store to get some wine.

After buying the bottle without doing anything stupid, I walked out of the store. At the same time, a guy was walking in. He peered at my brown paper bag and then said, "Wine. Simple."
What the effing eff? I didn't know what to say so I just let out a forced laugh. You know the kind that sounds like "Heh...."

I got in my car and tried to figure out why he would say that. I get that he meant like I was keeping it simple. Not drinking any complicated, fruity cocktail. Either that, or he thought I was simple-minded. But what I was really stuck on is why he would say "Wine. Simple," when he could have just said...oh...nothing?

Which meant that I was not at fault for this stupid exchange. I felt better.

In conclusion, I may not be charming and cool as a cucumber, but there's always someone worse than me.


Cali Girl said...

too funny. thanks for sharing.

saratogajean said...

If anyone ever says anything to me on my way out of the liquor store, it's usually a request for loose change.

JenBun said...

Maybe the second dude was at a loss as to what to buy in the liquor store (I myself have felt overwhelmed at all the offerings before me) and, in checking out your purchase, just thought "Of course, wine! So simple! Perfect."

Don't you feel better knowing that you made his decision easier? :)

Melissa said...

Dude.. why would he possibly make a comment on the wine? That's just a bit weird.

miss clover said...

run-ins like that happen to me all the time and make me think that i'm not as funny as i think i am, which CANNOT be the case.