Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Confessions of a Social Retard

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  • David Haywood,

    Years later, I worked with a woman who described herself as a sex-obsessed amateur porn writer.

    Just so there's no confusion, this is most definitely not a thinly-veiled reference to Emma Hart (who could only be described as a professional erotica writer, of course).

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 957 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    See, David, the problem with writing so beautifully is it makes one want to clasp you to one's very matronly bosom and pat your head. And there is, quite frankly, nothing more terrifying. I understand that. Doesn't mean I don't still want to do it. And anyway, I would have said that if you really are as socially retarded as you think you are, or were, you would never have captured the heart of such a beautiful woman.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    t my social inadequacy was emblazoned on my forehead like a huge flashing neon sign.

    Good thing you weren't on drugs at the time.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1171 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    I resemble this argument. 16 at Auckland Uni, and it turns out my entire first year of selected papers clashed. What to do? 19th Century bloody Literature.

    As for urinating daffodils, there was a poetry interpretation assignment I particularly remember from 20th century lit. on ee cummings' 'We thank you god for most this amazing day.' I was feeling quite smug with my erudite offerings of biblical proportions, but the tutor said 'no, that's not what it means'. Oh, Ok.

    So I majored in politics & philosophy instead. Less ambiguity. </sarc>

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And there is, quite frankly, nothing more terrifying.

    I did greet David with a man-hug once. He was a little taken aback, but coped, well, manfully. Although I'll grant you that being clasped to a very matronly bosom is a whole 'nother level...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18654 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    David, now I'm feeling stink for not chit-chatting more to you at the Great Blend. I mistook your shy smile for cool aloofness. It didn't help that Emma was next to you with a thought bubble over her head in which I could almost see "He stood there, chiseled and manly. When would he turn to me? I quivered with anticipation". Only later on did I realize she was actually just unprepared for the cold Auckland weather.

    It's very strange how contextual our social abilities are. I know so many people who can totally dominate some traditionally intimidating situation, like speaking in public, or negotiating with powerful people. But when it comes to something as simple as saying hello to someone sitting next to them they can't do it. A lot of people are curiously scared of talking to children. How many people are afraid to ask their mechanic to explain themselves?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It's very strange how contextual our social abilities are. I know so many people who can totally dominate some traditionally intimidating situation, like speaking in public, or negotiating with powerful people.

    My younger boy is interesting in that respect: he has various social deficits, but a year ago I took him to a product launch, and he pretty much owned the Q&A session. Also very good at tech demos for nanas.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18654 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I think he gets the rules of Q&A. The rules of milling about the pizza wondering who to chat to are much harder to teach.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    A nice story, David, but you don't convince me. When we met at the last Great Blend your conversational count outnumbered mine--but I did notice you kept a doorway within reach, as an escape route ;-)

    I think it is a good thing that when you have to talk in public to large crowds (which I do nearly every day), it is good if you still ask yourself, 'Who is this person?' Incidentally, I am doing a pecha kucha thing tomorrow night and although I know the rules about images (20x20=6min 40sec), I am not sure about the number of words you can use. I suspect occasional silences would be good. Any advice?

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2283 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I think he gets the rules of Q&A. The rules of milling about the pizza wondering who to chat to are much harder to teach

    Quite. His older brother was great when he came in for a Media7 recording this year -- thrusting out his hand to shake, introducing himself, offering conversation -- but completely and utterly lost at his nana's recent birthday dinner.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18654 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I did greet David with a man-hug once. He was a little taken aback, but coped, well, manfully. Although I'll grant you that being clasped to a very matronly bosom is a whole 'nother level...

    I find it helps if one explains the rules clearly to David first. So, "Russell says I must give you a hug from him. So I'm afraid we're going to have to hug. Bear up, dear."

    Emma was next to you with a thought bubble over her head in which I could almost see "He stood there, chiseled and manly. When would he turn to me? I quivered with anticipation".

    I'm curious now, Ben, which way was I facing?

    Just so there's no confusion, this is most definitely not a thinly-veiled reference to Emma Hart (who could only be described as a professional erotica writer, of course).

    I did eventually work out this wasn't me. I do do it for love, though. And my partner takes a polite interest in my work.

    I suspect occasional silences would be good. Any advice?

    I don't think I've seen anyone have time for silence.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4332 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Jackie Clark wrote:

    And anyway, I would have said that if you really are as socially retarded as you think you are, or were, you would never have captured the heart of such a beautiful woman.

    Ha! That's a plausible hypothesis, Jackie. But actually Jennifer and I got together as a consequence of my stunning ineptitude at explaining myself. This is a topic for another essay (or, failing that, I'll give you the details next time I see you in person).

    Russell Brown wrote:

    I did greet David with a man-hug once. He was a little taken aback...

    Damn! I can remember thinking "Wow, I was totally cool about that. Russell will never have guessed how taken aback I was." Obviously not as cool as I thought.

    BenWilson wrote:

    David, now I'm feeling stink for not chit-chatting more to you at the Great Blend. I mistook your shy smile for cool aloofness.

    Sorry Ben, that was a total case in point of my mind going totally blank! If it's any consolation, I've probably kicked myself a dozen times over that (lack of) conversation: "I could have talked about X; I could have talked about Y. Ben will think I'm a complete social retard, etc." Just as well it's out in the open now, otherwise I'd probably be still cringing over it when I'm sixty.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 957 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    BenWilson wrote:

    It's very strange how contextual our social abilities are...

    [RE: Russell's youngest]
    I think he gets the rules of Q&A. The rules of milling about the pizza wondering who to chat to are much harder to teach.

    I think you've hit the nail on the head there, Ben.

    For myself, I think I'm (generally) quite good at faking social ability, when I can prepare something to say in advance.

    My biggest problem is that I'm aware of how socially awkward I am -- unlike the vast majority of engineers who go through life blissfully unaware of their lack of social skills, and even (in many tragic cases) actually thinking that they are wonderful conversationalists.

    It's brutal to watch one of these engineers when they've trapped an audience upon which they are inflicting a conversation.

    P.S. I think I've done this myself to Jolisa Gracewood on more than one occasion. Sorry about that, dude.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 957 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    which way was I facing?

    roflnui

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16418 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    How many people are afraid to ask their mechanic to explain themselves?

    How many people peer under the bonnet of their car with foreboding and total incomprehension. That should give you a number.
    But David can, of course, rattle off technical terms that would impress even the most seasoned of automotive engineers.
    Eh David?

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1171 posts Report Reply

  • Judi Lapsley Miller,

    I'm not a big hugger but there is something particularly huggable about David so he usually has to suffer one from me. I find a fuzzy jersey helps soften the blow.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 99 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    andin wrote:

    How many people peer under the bonnet of their car with foreboding and total incomprehension... But David can, of course, rattle off technical terms...

    Yes, I have no problem talking to mechanics! Although I often find they're wrong about things they pick up during WOF inspections (another essay there).

    Judi Lapsley Miller wrote:

    I'm not a big hugger but there is something particularly huggable about David so he usually has to suffer one from me.

    No worries, I'm quite acclimatized to hugging you now. A Emma says, as long as I'm eased into it gradually then I'm fine.

    Also, thinking about it, I realize that I've probably inflicted boring engineering conversations on you, too. And Emma Hart as well. And, I suspect, even poor Russell.

    Sorry about that, dudes.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 957 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Damn! I can remember thinking "Wow, I was totally cool about that. Russell will never have guessed how taken aback I was." Obviously not as cool as I thought.

    As I recall, your words were something like: "Oh! Er ... well ... yes! Yes! I think can give you a hug ... "

    You coped quite well, really.

    Oddly enough, I was talking to someone about my experience with John Peel, who I spent some time chaperoning around Auckland, with his wife Sheila, when they visited.

    We got along jolly well, they invited me to stay with them when I was next in the UK, and when it came time to say goodbye, I went for the obligatory farewell embrace. He physically recoiled, and it was all a bit embarrassing.

    Sheila was a different matter: as huggy and social as you like. She was, I realised, her husband's social enabler.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18654 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    But being a talker doesn't necessarily mean you feel socially, erm, ept (is that a word?). I'm an inveterate chit-chatter, but after any social gathering I tend to find myself thinking 'christ, what a mad, squat little dork I am'.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3624 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Also, thinking about it, I realize that I've probably inflicted boring engineering conversations on you, too. And Emma Hart as well. And, I suspect, even poor Russell.

    Sorry about that, dudes.

    Nah. Despite my lack of learnin', I think I'm often singled out by highly intelligent but socially hesitant people at dinner parties, because I give the impression that I don't mind hearing about it. Which I generally don't: I like people who know things in depth.

    Sometimes I'm conscious of being out of my own depth (see: a certain cosmologist in the wider PA whanau) but that's way better than being buttonholed by some bore who doesn't know anything.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18654 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Hint 1:

    "Why are you always in the library at lunchtime?"

    Hint 2:

    "Why do you always walk around the park at lunchtimes now?

    .....She wontoned you David. And without the porn too.....hmmm...

    So where are you on this scale? I managed to sneak under the threshold....I understand your problem. See me in room 316 at 4-30pm thi afternoon......

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1491 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    I'm an inveterate chit-chatter, but after any social gathering I tend to find myself thinking 'christ, what a mad, squat little dork I am'.

    Ditto. On here also. Although being 6 foot, not so squat as rakish. Self doubt is a bugger of a thing, but suppose it does lend to one's humility. Or something...

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Philip Challinor,

    As the volume of jabbering leapt,
    Scarlet-faced from the party he crept,
    For most of the patrons
    Were bosomy matrons
    Whose pressings had outed his ept.

    London, England • Since Sep 2009 • 52 posts Report Reply

  • Judi Lapsley Miller,

    Also, thinking about it, I realize that I've probably inflicted boring engineering conversations on you, too.

    Not at all - have you not noticed us aiding and abetting such discussions by dropping words like "thorium" and "solar panels" into the conversation :-). I'm not sure if that says more about you or more about me!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 99 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm curious now, Ben, which way was I facing?

    Eyes, head, body or feet?

    Sorry Ben, that was a total case in point of my mind going totally blank! If it's any consolation, I've probably kicked myself a dozen times over that (lack of) conversation: "I could have talked about X; I could have talked about Y. Ben will think I'm a complete social retard, etc."

    In a cartoon we could have had a shared thought bubble then.

    It's brutal to watch one of these engineers when they've trapped an audience upon which they are inflicting a conversation.

    They're extremely reliable radios. Leading questions can sometimes find a good channel.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

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