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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Moment of Terror

“Jennifer!”

[Have I mentioned I hate my name?  I know that even if you’re given a terrible name at birth, something like Brandi or Teena or whatever (apologies to Brandi, Teena or whoever) you can overcome it through sheer genius IQ and become the next Einstein or a college professor or whatever you want – even if you have a dippy name.  But Jennifer is the queen of all dippy names, in my opinion, and I have never overcome it.  That and the fact that every other woman my age that I meet online is named Jennifer because it was the #2 name in the year I was born.]

So anyway.  I hear my name shouted across Eglinton on my way to shul this morning.  Friends of ours had a baby, that’s why I was going.  And I was expecting lots of people I know there so I didn’t think much about someone calling out my name.

The voice was familiar.

It was coming from a man on a bike in jeans and a helmet with a fabric thingy on the helmet, glasses, non-descript.  Gloves.  Not going to the shul, but heading south across Eglinton, at the same time I was trying to cross going north.

Total blank.

Total, scary, social-situation blank.  I hate social situations.  I am such a klutz, socially, like something out of  a bad comedy where it turns out all she needs is a good hairdo and she’s suddenly got tons of friends (hello, Princess Diaries!).

So who’s this guy?

Friendly.  Familiar. 

I look, I do the casual-wave thing, hoping we’ll wave at each other and be on our way, mutually crossing of Eglinton, he going south and me going north into shul.

But no, he’s waiting for me… and the voice sets something off, a little more familiar.

It must be “Bob”.  A guy we know, a little bit.

Ironically, someone I’ve always kind of mocked for his semi-autistic tendencies to not meet you in the eye, obsess over certain topics and generally just be a little more awkward than me in conversations. 

We don’t know him well, but we’ve chatted a few times; usually I get Ted to talk to him and he does okay, but I can’t handle the awkwardness. 

The only thing Bob & I really have in common, and even that is a bit of a stretch, is that I do kind of know…. let’s call him “Jim”:  Bob’s brother.   Jim is an “extended” but longtime friend/family member of my mother’s, in a vague and unimportant way.  I have met and chatted trivially with Jim many, many times.  Never, really, with Bob.

So there we go:  common ground.

After asking how he is a couple of times (gesture to the bike:  “this is how I get to work!”), still not 100% sure it’s Bob, but he is still not heading on his way, I venture, cheerfully, “so we just had a tour of Jim’s garden a couple of weeks back!”  (yes, I talk like a cowboy when I’m frightened)

Terror.  Brace myself.  Hope, hope, PRAY, I don’t get a blank look – like, “who’s Jim?”

But no.  Worse.

“Um.  I’m Jim.”

OOOOOoooooohkay, then!

“Oh, I’m sorry!   I didn’t recognize you in that hat!  I have to run – they’re having the baby naming now!  I saw the mother go inside!  And the jeans!” I called back over my shoulder.  Because I truly have never seen this person in jeans… in the almost-forty years I have known him.  Yes, just about since birth.

Yes, I’m a total moron.

And the ultimate, embarrassing truth is, Jim has an… issue… a major issue… with one of his hands that makes it impossible NOT to recognize him, when he isn’t wearing gloves.  It’s the first thing I look at when we converse.  Apparently, it’s the only way I ever recognize him.

Who’s semi-autistic now???

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