Today I went to Poundland and there was this cashier whose gender I couldn't determine. It disconcerted me to the point where I couldn't quite ask the question I meant to till I glanced down at his name tag ("Jason", had it been "Taylor" I would have been in trouble). I seriously didn't know how to interact with someone whose gender I didn't know, I knew gender was one of the traits that influenced social interactions but I didn't expect to be that stumped. I have never experienced anything like it, since in the internet everybody is, by default, female. I'm not very sure what to do about it, either, I try to make up for my total lack of social skills by being as street smart as I can, being super polite to everybody, nodding along to their endless directions and explanations, which with men often feels a bit like flirting or being girlish (Izabela claims men never make her feel like a girl and I have no proof it's them making me feel that my perfectly normal politeness and good humor are flirtatious but it feels like they take it that way and so I become conscious it might be taken that way, while women, if they are nice, react in an understanding, I-get-what-you-mean way that makes our interactions friendly instead). The very few women who have reacted the way men usually do, of course, also turn the interaction flirtatious for me, I guess I'm not very good at all this street smart business if I just lose control of any interaction I engage in but it's like they are talking in a language I understand and can replicate but whose nuances I don't really grasp well enough to manipulate. Sometimes, like when I did that theater audition for a role in Much Ado About Nothing and was asked to read my monologue flirtatiously and totally knocked it off the field, I feel like I'm finally getting it but I think it's more like I'm close enough to know what I don't know (very socratic, huh?), I don't even really know if I managed to do it flirtatiously or if my attempt was amusing in some other manner (the "judges" were enthusiastically approving) but it made me feel awesome. Which is basically the point of acting for me, it's a very empowering experience in the sense that, without any real risks, I can try out social-acting techniques, see if I can flirt, or cry or whatever. That is also the attraction of lying, can I do it?
I also tried to read "The Marriage Plot" (just a peak! I have promised I won't read it till I have finished the four Austen novels I have left) and I realised how much easier it is to enjoy each word when listening, I'm just so eager to know what happens that I skim ahead and then I feel bad. I suppose that's what rereading is for, really. It might be easier to avoid when reading at leisure at home and not in a bookshop one has to leave asap, too.
I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say. They are not brave, the days when we are twenty-one. They are full of little cowardices, little fears without foundation, and one is so easily bruised, so swiftly wounded, one falls to the first barbed word. Today, wrapped in the complacent armour of approaching middle age, the infinitesimal pricks of day by day brush one lightly and are soon forgotten, but then - how a careless word would linger, becoming a fiery stigma, and how a look, a glance over a shoulder, branded themselves as things eternal. A denial heralded the thrice crowing of a cock, and an insincerity was like the kiss of Judas. The adult mind can lie with untroubled conscience and a gay composure, but in those days even a small deception scoured the tongue, lashing one against the stake itself.
"Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier