My husband has an extraordinary lack of social skills. Typically, if we go out to a gathering or have a lot of people over, he will sit quietly by himself in a corner reading a book or magazine. He looks serene, smiling often at everyone, as wave after wave of noise and incomprehensible conversations wash over him from every part of the room.
“Steve’s such a great guy! We sure enjoy having him over.” The happy hosts have no idea what torture it is for Steve to be there. My hubby doesn’t mind a party or get together as much as long as there is music in the background, as he is able to focus on the music and tune out the voices.
If we are (actually if I am) entertaining at home he might wander off and eventually end up walking the dog or head out to his shop, puttering until the guests are gone.
Likewise my darling hubby doesn’t ‘get’ social cues or understand facial expressions. He is utterly clueless.
I remember a time, soon after we were married, when we were visiting family. I am an early-to-bed early-to-raise gal. I have trouble staying up past 8:30 at night. As I found myself beginning to stifling yawns, I caught my husband’s eye and tried to signal my desire to leave by tapping my watch.
He saw me, and after a quizzical look passed over his face he announced loudly, “It’s 9:10 pm.”
All around the room heads turned towards him as the other guests were as startled as I was. Yes, I thought, I know what the time was. My body had been telling me without my having to looking at my watch.
I caught his eye once again. I pantomimed sleeping by tipping my head slightly and resting it on my hands folded as if in prayer.
He looked at me blankly. Darn, I thought. I then nodded my head towards the door and pantomimed driving with my hands as if on a steering wheel.
“What’s wrong?” Steve said to me loudly, bringing the entire room to silence. “Don’t you want to be here? Do you want to go home?”
I was mortified! My face was on fire as we got our coats and heading out the door, leaving some puzzled people and possibly even some hurt feelings.
I asked my husband on the way home why he tried to humiliate me like that. He was nonplus.
“But it was true, wasn’t it? You didn’t want to be there and you did want to go home!” All I could do was shake my head slowly and stare out the window. He just didn’t ‘get it’.
To this day Steve simply doesn’t understand why you can’t always ‘speak the truth’. Why it’s better to say “I’ve never had anything like this” about a bad meal somewhere instead of ‘this tastes horrible’.
I’m still trying to convince him that people like it better when he just smiles and nods when we are out visiting. I know that I do.
And I never, ever ask him how an outfit makes me look!