It has probably never occurred to you just how difficult it is for a blinkie to hold a conversation. Let me assure you, it most definitely is! Perhaps I notice this and allow it to annoy me, because, in an earlier life my job involved ensuring I’d the attention of others. When facing a class of thirty odd, and in many cases, “odd” is the operative word, Scottish weans it’s best if you can see the whites of their eyes. If nothing else, it suggests they are awake.
Gauging identities and reactions from voice alone is a skill to be acquired by all new blinkies. Usually, within the circle of close friends, awkwardness is avoided or minimal. Out in company, it’s a different matter. Some folk have the sense to tap my shoulder sharply and announce their name before launching into conversation but usually I’ve to endure the awful scenario of meeting an unfamiliar someone out of context. I have learned to navigate through stock pleasantries whilst a battery of brain cells gradually click through the accumulatting clues until I feel confident enough to make specifically relevant comments. And I should know by now this is an essential procedure. Only this morning, I almost induced heart failure in a wee wifie. There we were, in the butcher’s and, when she greeted me, so certain was I of her identity, I enquired after the twins. The gasped “Eh!” gave a vivid picture of the expression on her face. Only then did I realise this wasn’t a former colleague, mother and grand mother of twins, but Someone Else altogether. And I hadn’t the faintest idea who.
Imagine the problems whenever Miss Pupkin and I are attending a Big Do! All that din! All those strangers! And me, teetering on heels, balancing a gin and tonic and hoping my exuberant canine companion doesn’t bounce at anyone’s posh frock. I’ve written about such situations before and to be honest, despite practice, things ain’t much better. Standing silent while groups around buzz with conversation is extremely lonely. Such body language as a nod, raised eyebrow or smile tells Others they are in the body of the kirk, that their comment is appreciated. All impossible for blinkies. I can talk to Miss Pupkin. Or, if my heels are not too wobbly, perambulate. If I shoogle enough elbows, someone usually takes pity on us. Of course, they might just shove me onto a seat, well out of the way but sometimes I can ask to be reunited with my husband. Despite not having seen him clearly this century and, therefore, giving a slightly dated description of him, I’m usually reunited with the correct chap.
However, if the Big Do is a dinner, it can all be much, much worse. I’m fairly adept at working out what’s where on the table and settling Miss Pupkin comfortably out of sight, allowing her enough space to relax without offending anyone because she’s decided to use their Jimmy Choos as a pillow. No, once again the problem is with conversation. And, of course, at a dinner table there’s no escape!
This was forcibly brought home recently; there I was, almost surrounded by total strangers, all chuntering away but nary a word directed to me. It was dreadful! Especially as I could have been at home, bare feet on the sofa, plugged into a talking book, a bowl of salted cashews balanced on my tum. Equally, I would have relished the chance to chat away, never mind that it was with unknown quantities; other people can be fascinating. But no, all I could enjoy was the food.