In the near future, I have got to go to a wedding. This involves just about everything that I find disturbing in life. Getting dressed in clothes that are a tad too small for me, and make me feel as though I am in a straight jacket, prolonged periods of time just standing around while endless photographs are taken by an overly pedantic photographer, who spends ridiculous amounts of time trying to get the bride’s flowers in exactly the right position, some form of horrifically awkward dancing, and the worst of all…….having to talk to people! This brings me nicely onto the subject of today’s lecture, communication.
Human beings seem to be the only members of the animal kingdom that have a bizarre need to communicate on a twenty-four hour basis. I have no idea why this is. Perhaps it’s because we are the only ones that have developed intricate languages, and we are basically showing off! Although I doubt there are any cats anywhere going, "Ooh look at those wordy bastards, constantly showing off with their intricate languages and stuff." And of course they are not doing that, because they haven’t got the language to do so! I am tying myself up in knots a bit here, but I am sure you catch my drift.
I am by no means an expert on animals, but from the various documentaries etc I have watched, I have never seen a pride of lions just roaring at each other for no apparent reason. Animals seem to communicate when it is necessary, which makes sense to me. It seems that they just do the basics. Hello, fuck off, fancy a shag, and although we as humans lead more complex lives than your average lion, we could take a leaf out of their book, and cut down on the bloody jibber jabber!
I don’t know what people find to talk about 24/7? You see people wandering down the street with a mobile phone seemingly welded to their ear. Blah blah tittle tattle blah blah, what the bloody hell are they talking about? I predict that in time, we will naturally evolve to being born with a blue tooth ear piece already installed. I am going to stick my neck out here, and say that I reckon that the vast majority of words spoken every day are completely needless (Those in glass houses!). There must be billions if not trillions of words uttered everyday, and I think that a good ninety-five percent of them could be left unsaid.
But we can’t do it can we? We can’t bare silence. There must never be silence on the radio, or dead air as they call it, people are reprimanded for not filling every nano second with some sort of noise. If there is a guest on a chat show, who when asked a question actually takes a few seconds to consider and compose a coherent answer, doesn’t jump in immediately with a reply, the audience starts to squirm in their seats. The interviewer’s face drains of blood, and the director has a coronary. I remember seeing Terry Wogan interview Anne Bancroft. She basically gave one word answers to his questions, and it was absolutely excruciating. Technically she was answering the questions correctly, but we don’t want that do we, we want people to elongate an answer, embellish it, exaggerate it.
Don’t get me wrong, I think language and communication are marvelous things, and listening to somebody speak who can do it well is very entertaining. It’s just that the vast majority of us are not overly good at communicating, so our answers to people’s questions end up as loooooooooong boring drivel!
There seems to be little in our lives that is more excruciatingly embarrassing than an awkward silence. We would seemingly rather have the air filled with banal blah blah, than say nothing at all. This is partly why the wedding will be a slightly traumatic experience for me. Being in a room with lots of people you don’t know doesn’t fill me with joy.
I really don’t like the first time you meet someone. That awkward thing about not knowing what to say. You’re all guarded because you don’t know them, and you don’t know what you can say, and what you probably shouldn’t. How will they react if you say this, what if they take umbrage if you say that? It’s daft really; we should all just be ourselves and say, within reason, what we bloody well like, and be done with it. If somebody doesn’t like it, tough, you probably won’t have to see them again, but it doesn’t happen does it. No, we all stand around feeling awkward and blushing.
There are many pitfalls when it comes to communicating with our fellow humans. I once witnessed a friend of mine, who in the middle of an awkward silence, asked a rotund woman "When it was due?" only to be told that "She wasn’t pregnant!" that was pretty hellish I can tell you, and there really is no way back from that. The damage is well and truly done, with no hope of repair. All you can do is blush massively, and slide away from the danger zone as quickly as possible.
I hate that thing where you are talking to someone that you barely know, and someone he knows much better drifts up, and elbows his way in. From this moment on you are out in the cold. You are out on a limb; you are reduced to nodding here and there, in some pathetic attempt to still feel part of the conversation. Inevitably the time will come when all this nodding is futile, you have been sidelined. Now comes the next awkward bit, do I just slip away, and appear rude, or make some kind of embarrassing waving gesture to indicate my departure?
One of my pet hates on the communicating/social event front, is compulsory mingling. You know those people who are hosting a party, and simply can’t bare it if everybody hasn’t spoken to everybody. Miss Marple and I were at a function once, and the only people we new were the hosts.
We had secreted ourselves into a little corner, and were quite happy thank you very much. But the hostess of the party obviously wasn’t. One second I was merrily shooting the breeze with Miss Marple, and the next I was being dragged across the room by the elbow, by the hostess from hell. She plonked us in front of a rather bemused looking couple, and told me "To talk to them!" Thanks very much I thought. Hence another awkward situation arose. What do we do now? I am not overly fussed about chatting with these strangers, and by the looks on their faces, they weren’t that bothered either. The trouble is we can’t just be honest and say "Please don’t take this personally, you don’t smell or anything, but we were having quite a nice little conversation over there, and we would quite like to carry on with it. So we won’t hang around. Cheers." So we stayed and awkwardly stumbled through a conversation about wine tasting!
A very similar thing to this, is what I call ‘Wedding reception Nazi-ism’! In the past we have been to a few weddings with the old band lot. We all new each other really well, felt comfortable, new we could say or do anything, and generally had a bloody good laugh in each others company. So the wedding bit was done, we had all milled about for seven hours, while the rather pedantic photographer spent more time than was necessary getting the brides train to lay "Just so" and now it was time for the booze and nosh up. So in we trot to the reception, and we are confronted by what I can only describe as SS wedding herders! Those bastards that steer you to your allocated table.
"Can we just sit with those people please, we know them" I would ask. Only to be told, "You vil sit ver you are told, and you vil talk to zose people."
So the next God knows how many hours were spent talking awkwardly about the price of fish with the brides Aunt, and we would all occasionally glance over our shoulders, in the vain hope of catching the eye of one of our comrades.
Of course we don’t just communicate with words apparently. No, according to psychologists and body language experts, most of the communication between human beings is subliminal. A little gesture here, a ruffle of the hair there. Most of the subliminal communicating that goes on, is apparently during courtship rituals (Where else). Over the years, theses ‘experts’ have told us about the signs to look out for. You know the stuff, if the lady is leaning towards you, or playing with her hair. Dilated pupils, mimicking your actions etc etc. I wish I had known all this fucking stuff when I was a younger, timid, scared of my own shadow, little virgin! Would have come in very handy indeed. I never have been a ‘Lady killer’ so to speak, but knowing a few of the signs would have saved me a shit load on opticians bills, and dragged me from the pit of self loathing a lot sooner too!
Having said that, I was so shy and awkward, I think I would still have been in two minds, if the lady had been lying on the bed, legs akimbo, shouting "FUCK ME NOW!" I still would have been peering through the door saying to myself "Oooh, well I don’t know if she really likes me. Damn those women, and their infernal mixed signals!"
Are you beginning to understand why I don’t like social events etc!
I suppose if I am honest, it is easy to blame everybody else, or the event, but I suppose it is my own inadequacies that are to blame. Why do I find it so hard to relax and just jabber away like most people seem to be able to do? Though I suspect I am not alone here. The older you get, and ironically the more you talk to people! The more you come to realize that you are not the only sociaphobe on the planet. Thankfully the woman who’s wedding it is, is apparently of a similar opinion to me, so there will be a buffet, and not an SS wedding herder in sight!
- ▼ 2009 (21)
- ► 2008 (15)