For the past two and a half years, since my forceful reintroduction to being social with real people, in real life, I've put forth considerable effort to change certain things about myself to help ease the pain of this reintroduction. One thing I've worked hard on is personal contact. By personal contact I mean: hugging, shaking hands, and to a lesser extent eye contact.
In my younger days these things all came naturally. I knew when I was supposed to hug someone and when I was supposed to shake someone's hand. According to archaeologists using advanced carbon dating, that knowledge was lost to me sometime between 1992 and 1993 and has since not been rediscovered, but that doesn't stop me from trying.
Over the past year I've come up with ways to compensate for these deficiencies. When meeting someone, male or female I always try to shake their hand. When saying goodbye I try to shake their hand and if I'm feeling the hug vibe then I usually make a joke out of it by saying something like, "We've known each other for too long for a handshake" as I pull them in for the hug. It's cheesy, but it works.
During Christmas break Ruth and Rachel invited me out to have Chick-fil-A with them on their lunch break. I had the week off, so the offer of delicious delicious chicken and time with the twins was a bit of a no brainer. Jay met us there, and Ruth and Rachel ended up bringing a friend from work named Erica.
I sat on the edge of the table with Erica across and Ruth next to me. Erica seemed nice, although she didn't really say much. She was not really eating as she was getting married soon and wanted to shed some weight for the wedding dress or some other such female nonsense. In the midst of wedding talk and work gossip that I didn't understand I focused my attention on the joy that is the Chick-fil-A 12 pack of chicken nuggets.
As the meal reached what I thought to be the end I thought it appropriate to tell Erica it had been nice to meet her and did so. As I did, she reached her hand from under the table to sort of wave and return the gesture. Unfortunately for me, and everyone present, that little part of my brain that makes me think its time to shake hands saw her hand come from under the table, and like an attention starved dog that has been locked up in a house all day, that little part of my brain jumped.
I instinctively went to shake her hand, for a moment forgetting that she was across the table, and that I had to reach across Ruth to do so. I was getting up to leave as I started this motion but, as if to highlight the sheer awkwardness of the situation, nobody else got up. Just to put the final nail in my embarassment coffin Jay chimed in with, "Wow, that was incredibly awkward"
Yes Jay, that was incredibly awkward.