No script

So I’m standing and chatting with some people after the service this evening and suddenly this guy (someone I know) greets me with a very happy shout: Meirav! I look at him expectantly, wondering what he’s going to say, and then he says: Happy Easter!!!

and I say: oh….. um…. thank you.

Because I haven’t a clue how I’m supposed to react, I have no idea what sort of response he was expecting (definitely not the one he got, I’m pretty sure about that), I was totally thrown by this greeting because it’s just so… extrovert, I guess… a bit like if I was standing quietly and contemplating a quiet stream and suddenly a big friendly dog came bouncing up to me and licked my face… I can tell that it’s meant as a friendly gesture, but I’m thrown.

Thinking back to that moment, I can see why I was thrown – because when I heard such an excited greeting, I assumed there must be a reason, I assumed he would tell me why he was so excited to see me. I was expecting something like: I’m so glad you made it because… or: I really wanted to ask you… or: I want you to meet this person… I was expecting something that would explain that enthusiastic shout – instead of which all I got was: Happy Easter.

But this feeling of not having a clue how to react in a social situation – this is something that I feel has pretty much always been part of my life. There’s always this sense of: normal people would know how to react, but I don’t. As though most people get issued with this bunch of scripts at some point, pretty early on, and I must have not been standing in the right queue just then, so I don’t have the script, I don’t know what my lines are.

This makes me more reluctant to get into situations where I wouldn’t know what to say, which in turn means I don’t get a lot of practice, which in turn means I don’t have much of a chance of learning… Also, I’m not really very good at going with stuff just because that’s the norm, so even if someone told me that the normal answer to X is Y, I’d probably say: you’re joking! that doesn’t make any sense! I’m not going to say Y just because that’s the standard answer.

Yes, part of the problem is that even when I do know what the script says, I refuse to follow it. Like when I came back from my recent visit home to Israel and someone heard and said “and did you have a lovely time?” – I knew very well that the expected reply was “lovely, thanks”, but I wasn’t going to pretend. I said, “it was quite stressful”, and saw her face fall. But, really, what’s the point of having a conversation if you keep it superficial and full of lies? I’d rather not bother.

Plus, to be honest (which, as you see, is my custom), I was annoyed that she asked that question. I get annoyed at questions which I feel are putting pressure on me to pretend, just so that we could all keep pretending that life is a walk in the park. The question “did you have a lovely time?” sounds to me like pressure to pretend that I did, because that’s what’s expected of you when you’ve been away. Just like “did you have a nice Easter?” – to which the expected answer is in the affirmative. It’s not – as far as I can work out – acceptable in normal society (at least here in the UK) to say: actually I really can’t stand this whole Easter thing/actually going home for a visit is always stressful because my family all hate each other and my aunt Zelda has never forgiven me for poisoning her daughter’s pet rabbit when we were three. (I hasten to clarify that no, I don’t have an aunt by the name of Zelda, nor did I ever poison anyone’s pet rabbit.)

I just have this annoying tendency to say what I think, and to answer questions as though they were actually intended to ask what they sound like they’re asking and not as some kind of code.

The truth is, even if someone were to hand me those scripts on a plate, I’d probably take one look at them and tear them to shreds, throw them on the floor and stamp on them, and then feed them to the dog.

4 thoughts on “No script

  1. let me begin by saying, “i totally and completely know utterly what you mean.” and then i want to add on, “and i’ve been thinking the exact same thing, only about remembering people’s names. i’m not good at remembering them, but i still might be happy to see them. but i’m afraid i’ll screw up their name so i avoid them. then they think i don’t like them, but i do.” i’ve even heard someone complaining about people who, “can’t do something as basic as remember a person’s name.” great. way to make me feel like a real schmuck (excuse my not french).

    > “normal people would know how to react, but I don’t.”
    i’ve wondered about this. rob always seems to know how to react to crazy off the wall things like this, and i have no clue. but i’m slowly coming to realize that if he sees someone coming at him like this, he generally responds in kind. (ok, not always. there are these grumpy times when he just gets upset and i can’t tell why he’s one way one time and another way another time. but in general, he responds in kind.) and what i’ve noticed is that if he messes up, he just rolls with it. and since he’s rolling with it, the other person rolls with it. it’s dawned on me that as an introvert, i’m hyper aware of when i’m asked to play an extroverted roll and that i don’t know the script, etc. but an extravert, who lives out in the world all the time, works out their script as they go and when they mess up they just course correct and keep rolling extravertedly. it’s like they assume that blurting their insides out to the world is going to involve some messiness but at least they’re “keeping it real” or some such. i don’t know. i’m only just beginning to realize this stuff. but it’s been helpful to me to realize that stuff i’m mortified over, other people seem to just let roll and they keep on chugging on. so i’m trying to learn from that.

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    • thank you for that input about what you’ve been observing in Rob’s behaviour, that’s really interesting.

      and may I just join you in growling about that person who can’t do something as basic as accept that not everyone is good at remembering people’s names…

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  2. couldn’t agree or commiserate with you more… “Happy Easter” … feels like folks don’t understand its a religious holiday meant for reverence… a time to be grateful for our salvation…

    but that’s just me…

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    • hmmm… no, that’s not why I cringed. Joy seems to me a pretty natural reaction to the Resurrection, I see nothing irreverent in that. It wasn’t because he yelled “happy Easter” specifically, it was because he greeted me very exuberantly and I’m not all that good at dealing with that sort of behaviour, I just don’t know how to respond.

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