As far back as I can remember I have been at least a little socially awkward. A good percentage of this has been from my extroverted nature making me altogether too comfortable around other people and especially in crowds. So comfortable in fact, that I often miss social queues. This involves talking at awkward times, walking away without saying anything (and wrongly assuming this won’t bother anyone), and joking with people I’ve just met as though we’re old friends.
So the other night I’m at a meetup of around 100 people, almost all of whom are white men. That’s why, when I see a table of three women sitting off the side with no one talking to them, I want to go find out who these women are and talk with them. My mind tells me, “I’d want someone to come over and talk with me.”
So I make my way over to this table and ask if I can join them. I’m pretty sure they say yes because saying no feels wrong even if it is the right choice. Unfortunately the table has long bench seats that extend to the wall and therefore sitting down requires a ridiculously big swinging of my legs around and over the bench—squeezing them under the table (this gap was clearly made with different-sized feed in mind).
In the mere act of sitting down I’ve taken long enough to get situated and had a difficult enough time that everyone at the table is already uncomfortable. But unwavering, I introduce myself and ask their names. I meet Andrea, and Jenny, but I cant quite hear the woman furthest from me at the table when she says her name.
“Tara?” I ask.
“No,” she clearly says, followed by something else inaudible in this very noisy room. I want to be considerate and get this right though, so I try again.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear. Is it Tara?”
“No,” this time she screams, “Tara with an ‘S’.”
“Taras?” I offer, really quite confused now.
“I said Tara with an ‘S’,” she yells again. And now I’m just completely baffled.
“Tsara?” I offer.
Her friend then finally turns to me and says, “It’s Sarah.” And hoo boy are we off to a good start.
I did continue to make conversation as best as I could, and Tara with an S has a pretty fascinating job advising startups. But I’m pretty sure I just came off as the awkward ass who couldn’t do some of life’s most basic tasks, things like sit down or hear names. Of course, it didn’t help that when the conversation was done and it was time to exit the table gracefully, I was incapable of the operation and everyone stared for a good while as I tried to figure out how to get my feet out from under the table.