Saturday, January 22, 2011

Social distortion

*Socially awkward penguin!

In the course of human events, sometimes I have to interact with other humans.

It's not an ideal situation. When I could be rewatching a Season 2 episode of 30 Rock for the third time, often I have to actually exchange words with another sentient being. This often requires me to nurse light alcoholic beverages while informing someone pretending to be interested in what I have to say that, no, I don't get tickets to the Super Bowl because I work for a sports website.

While it may surprise you, I've been in many social situations the past month or so. I just attended a birthday barbecue in Coral Gables. I fret over such events. I contemplated which kind of alcohol to bring for almost 20 minutes. I considered Becks or Heineken and then remembered the family is Jewish. So I went in a different direction. I need to think of everything because my instincts in this field are world-class terrible.
At least these experiences provide an opportunity to self-scout my ability to interact with other people. And the scouting report says I have plenty to work on. Mel Kiper Jr. doesn't like my measurables at all. But I think his hair is stupid, so take that. He says I should stay inside all day, every day.

I'm trying.

Anyway, here are a few things the report would say:

1. Bad first step: When reacquainting with someone he has already met and conversed with several times, the Sears still says, 'Nice to meet you.' Concerning. At the Sunday BBQ, the Sears unfurled this beauty on the wife of his co-worker, a woman he had 'met' several times now. Why does he do this? We don't have a freaking clue. He might be better off saying, "Hi. My name is Steve. I'm a registered sex offender." Other preferable options: punching her in the stomach or giving her a copy of "The Card Cabal."

Word is, he's done this more than a few times. Watching the Sears perform this social stink bomb is like watching Tony Allen dribble ... sooner or later someone is going to get hurt.

2. Failure to engage: These South Florida women are different than others. A simple wave hello or soft handshake is not enough. They lean forward and this sets the Sears in panic mode. A female is getting too close. Abort! Abort! Sadly, running away is rarely an option so he must clumsily partake in this formal practice. Does each person kiss the other's cheek? Or is it just the guy? Or the girl? The Sears has no idea. He is just happy that he has yet to headbutt anyone doing this, but his discomfort is evident. A polar bear in the rain forest. A black guy at Fenway Park. Just out of place.

3. Terrible coordination: The 2004 Red Sox had handshakes more complicated than most missile systems. If the Sears were on that team, he would not have fit in very well. First, his 0.00 batting average would be an impediment, as well as his terrible fielding, threat to catchers, awful instincts, Jack Skellington frame, paper meche bones and insistence on Coldplay as locker room music. Also, this is a guy who chokes in mini-golf. Imagine Yankee Stadium in October?? Besides those very few faults, the Sears would have been completely helpless when it came to the Manny-Pedro-Papi coordinated handshakes.

The Sears can win an English award, write an enormously popular college column, graduate with a prestigious degree from a Top 100 university, operate a Toyota, and photograph street signs, but he can't pull off anything other than a simple handshake. Anything - ANYTHING -more than that goes over like anti-Obama joke on Real Time. A lobotomized high school dropout who watches Two-and-a-half Men can breeze through this ritualistic male greeting call.
The Sears has only one go-to move. A handshake with all the power and affirmation of an 80-year-old grandmother greeting a councilman after a zoning board hearing. That's it. Perhaps he should study this.

Many a time has an unsuspecting dude attempted such uncomplicated maneuvers only to find the Sears totally incapable of following along. This male will usually stop the complicated stuff and revert to a normal handshake, disgusted and befuddled while asking himself, "Is this guy gay or something?"

Yeah, I'm guilty of all these things. What can I say, other than "Nice to meet you?"
I'll see you inside with the shades drawn. My comfort zone.

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