I am interpersonally retarded. In fact, I come from a long line of interpersonal retards. As WASPs, my family has long prided itself on a history of social retardation, and we take it as a point of familial pride to make all of interactions–both with each other and the outside world–as excruciatingly uncomfortable as possible for everyone involved.
Now, before you go firing off angry emails to me about the plight of autistic children–before you start your two-screen missive regarding your nephew who is the most wonderful blessing in the world and if I weren’t so ignorant I would be able to see this, hear me out. Before you get worked up, know that I am being literal in my use of the word “retarded,” viz. to denote a state of being “checked, impeded [and/or] delayed” (OED) in my development of social skills.
So, say you learned how to play nicely in kindergarten, how to navigate social groups in high school, and how to network to your advantage in the years after college? Well, I’m still learning not to hit the other kids over the head with a Fisher Price baby mower. And I still forget, sometimes, not to eat paste.
Mr. Right-Click is constantly on my case about making friends. Strictly speaking, I don’t have any. Well, I do, but they all live somewhere else. Like on the other side of the country. Or in France. So my day-to-day interactions are limited to Mini, Mr. Right-Click, the intrawebnet, and whichever randoms piss me off at Target. I’m not here to argue that this is normal or even desirable. But it is what it is (don’t you hate that expression? Talk about a throw away phrase. I should delete it, but I grow weary).
I have a friend whom I know through Mr. Right-Click. We do couple stuff together on occasion, but she and her family live kinda far away. She had emailed me a few weeks ago about my blog (Hi, X, if you’re reading this right now.) She is a super smart and talented person whom I like a lot, and had written some really nice things. Her opinion matters, too, because she Knows About This Kind Of Stuff.
But for some reason I hadn’t emailed her back yet. Mr. Right-Click was frustrated with me about this. I received her email and, after basking in the glow of her compliments, I left the email in my inbox with the full intention of writing back. Once it was the right time. Because when I get an email, I am then overcome with a host of questions about what the correct etiquette is for response time.
You know how with email, you get into a thing where one person writes, and then the other person writes back right away, because if you don’t then that might be construed as rude, right? But then does the other person need to write back to the first person immediately, too? Because if they don’t, that might be seen as rude, correct? So then the first person has to write back again.
And before you know it, you are writing email back and forth every day and you’re like, “Are we writing every day now?”
Because I feel like I don’t want to make somebody do that with me–why on earth would they want to listen to what I have to say every day?
This emailing issue has come up several times for me lately. I blame Facebook. If Facebook hasn’t hit your subdivision yet, give it a few days. I’ve been talking to people I haven’t seen or talked to in 10 or 15 years. There’s a lot of material to catch up on, as you might imagine.
But again, are we going to write every day? How often should I write? And then, when will you expect my next response once you have responded? Would you like an inventory of the goings on in my life for the past ten years, or should I limit it only to baby and family stories?
So, I guess what I am saying is: if you’re expecting an email from me, just be glad you haven’t gotten it yet. You still have time to block my account.