I am a very talented woman. This is known.
Sadly, not all of my talents are… good things.
There’s my penchant for failing in the face of gravity and other known laws of physics. I’ve absolutely eaten a one-pound cheeseburger and all of its accompanying sides just to get my picture on the wall of Cheeburger Cheeburger (I had room for a milkshake afterward). I can belch the alphabet in several languages. My road rage and accompanying 5-speed handling are the stuff of legend.
But most unfortunate (nay, tragic) among these is a little skill I once named Diarrhea of the Mouth. It has also been known as Diarrhea of the Ink Pen, Diarrhea of the Keyboard, and Diarrhea of the Phone, due to technical advancements in modern communication. This sparkling gem of social failure often rears its ugly head when I’m involved in witty repartee with an intriguing person. Onset is most common when I cross some sort of social border invisible to the Eyes of the Agnes, but commonly known to most others who were schooled in the art of social graces (and is more frequent when alcohol is involved, but can occur at any time, for any number of reasons incomprehensible to the Agnes). Symptoms in their mildest form most often include awkward silences, unreturned phone calls, and a general distancing, sometimes lasting for days. Dramatic symptoms are sadly not rare, but at times manifest in the affronted party as lost opportunities, floundered relationships, diagnoses of craziness, and the occasional entrance into the witness protection program. Symptoms most often surface when the Agnes has managed to bungle a social situation to the point of producing what is known as the River of Shit, which flows freely from her mouth, keyboard, phone, or whatever communication medium is closest to her at the time.
Unfortunately, I’m just not good at the games and rules and general bullshit that go along with getting to know people, let alone dating.
During a particularly rough spell of infection, known to most as my twenties, I threatened to write a book called Funny Girls Don’t Get Laid, chock-full of true stories pertaining to how I scared off this guy or that guy or whatever. The most standout chapter was to be The Cheesecake Incident.
A mutual friend had introduced me to Derek, the programming director of the local alternative radio station. Derek and I were wrapped in conversation over Guinness; I was of course taken in with his musical knowledge and spectacular sense of humor, and he with the same qualities in me, and quite possibly my ability to pound an Irish Carbomb without using my hands. (Use your imagination.) The hours passed, last call rang out, and we went our separate ways.
The next day at work, Arwyn passed along the info that Derek was very much looking forward to seeing me again, and had asked her for my number (insert my own shock and delight that I’d managed, somehow, not to fuck this one up!). He called, plans were made, and at the end of the evening when he asked me to stay the night, I declined, citing that while I had a great time, we had all the time in the world for that, and that it would be best not to rush things.
Aaaaaaaand here comes the silence.
Days passed, and I heard absolutely nothing from this awesome guy who seemed so smitten with me. What the hell?? What did I do?? Surely he wasn’t blowing me off because I wasn’t ready to sleep with him, right? Brain reeling from my typical situational over-analysis, I proceeded to carry out what I thought was an endearing gesture: he had told me that he loved the strawberry cheesecake from my place of employment, so I drove to his office downtown and brought him a piece.
Yep. I sure did.
Open floodgates. Cue River of Shit.
He was mortified. He did manage to say, “You really shouldn’t have done that,” before citing lots of meetings and stuff to do and telling me that I should leave.
I never heard from him again.
I was heartbroken. I’d done it again, somehow. I’d managed to shit all over a great opportunity with an amazing guy, and I was completely baffled as to how it happened. Over-analysis turned to damn-near psychosis. How did I screw it up, AGAIN?? So of course, as he wasn’t returning my calls, I did the next most logical thing, to me: I went to his house.
Oh shit, no I did not.
Yes, I did. Because I just don’t know what to do, and I never have.
He begrudgingly let me in. With my pride in tiny pieces on the floor, I flat-out asked him, “What happened? I thought things were going so well? What did I do?”
Turns out that those words, “all the time in the world,” scared the bejesus out of him, because he took that to mean that I was already sinking my claws in for the long haul. I pleaded with him that it was entirely not the case, and that I just didn’t want to act like a total ho-bag, but my words fell on deaf ears. You see, even if the words I spoke had the best intentions, it was what followed that convinced him that I was utterly pathological: I called him. And I BROUGHT HIM CHEESECAKE.
Lather, rinse, and repeat this scenario for another ten years.
Just when I’d given up on ever being able to navigate this Great Dating Abyss, I met someone who was completely unfazed by my Diarrhea of the Keyboard. He had no idea that women weren’t supposed to call men, let alone ask them out. Instead of running far, far away, he was flattered when I flirted with him online. I met someone who didn’t even SEE the River of Shit. I met him, and by God, I married him. 🙂
So yes, all of this is to say that what some people call Foot in Mouth Disease really could be just the verbal flailings of the socially awkward. The porters of said disease could truly have the best intentions at heart. Maybe, just maybe, give ’em a chance. They might even bring you cheesecake.