The struggle of being a former New Yorker/Washingtonian/Arizonan in an excessively friendly southern state is all too real for this girl.
One of the hardest things about being a transplant in the south is the challenging adjustment of having to talk to people. Especially extraordinarily friendly people, because they make me feel like a sorry excuse of an ill-mannered human being.
For someone naturally reserved, such unexpected conversations with enthusiastic random strangers can be grounds for a full-blown anxiety attack.
On an exceptionally good day, I can plaster on my most natural fake smile.
Then I cross my fingers, in hopes that my face won’t actually freeze that way. Especially if I am unintentionally bearing teeth.
When I’m out bicycling around my neighborhood and people go beyond the perfunctory wave and vocalize their greeting, or worse, initiate a conversation? What am I supposed to do?
The obvious answer, of course, is to make a run for it.
I go outside to throw away the trash in my pjs in broad daylight and the neighbor twelve houses down to the left with the terrifying horse-sized Scottish Deerhound smiles and starts waving a little too enthusiastically.
My typical instinct is to discreetly crouch down and scuttle away like the stealthy ninja that I am.
Suddenly, my brain is rapidly firing off panic signals.
Crap! You made eye contact! What were you thinking?
“How ya doing? Nice day out, don’t ya think?”
Great. Now the neighbor wants to make conversation while you’re standing outside like a fool in your Hello Kitty pajamas!
“A shame about that field being plowed down for another housing development, ain’t it? Where all them cows gonna go now?”
Might as well be standing outside naked. Maybe that’d be less awkward.
Must. Get. Out.
Quick! Excuse yourself! Get out of there NOW!
The last time I had been caught off guard by a neighbor, I managed to back out of there after a record time of 1 minute and 28 seconds…by pleading a bathroom emergency.
Classy, I know. But it was the best I could do after my overactive brain presented the pitiful excuse on a silver platter.
Yet once again, my brain is tasked with conjuring up “logical” excuses while my neighbor continues on with his riveting monologue about cows.
I’ve narrowed down my choices.
I have to go because:
a) Dinner is almost ready, and I need to go turn the oven off
b) The house is now on fire because dinner has been in the oven 5 minutes too long
c) The kids are beating each other within inches of their lives with Nerf swords
d) All of the above
While all of these seem like perfectly rational justifications, I naturally go with the most plausible one.
The house is on fire.
Not seeing the thick gray smoke?
Well, gotta go! See ya later!