Forward—Flirting Impaired In Recovery
“…Your what?” Her voice pierced through the phone, and it seemed as though she couldn’t believe her ears. That was my sister-in-law, poor girl, just phoning to chat, and inquiring harmlessly as to what was new. It had been a while since we just made time to chat, although, to be fair, I could have sworn I had told her.
“Ummm…yeah, I wrote a book, and I am getting it published”
“When did you do that?!” She sounded panicked somehow, as if she was concerned I had just developed a terminal case of grandiose delusions or something. After all, I was engaged to be married, and planning an out of town wedding—when did I have the time to write a….book?! I suddenly felt somewhat self-conscious fielding questions about my dirty little secret: writing. My poor sister-in-law never knew, and it would seem, never would have guessed.
I might have been amused if I didn’t know the question that would inevitably come up: ‘what’s your book about?’ It was so hard to make this answer sound “cool”. To be fair, a memoir about being socially awkward, and still getting “the guy”, is just not ideal “cool” material. As an English teacher, I was chagrined by the irony of my inability to explain this well. Then came the next logical question: ‘What’s the book called?’ I flinched, took a deep breath, closed my eyes and said into the phone “Survival of the Flirting Impaired”.
Sigh. Just when you think you know someone. My poor sister-in-law, up until that moment she might have just had me pegged as one of the more normal, or at least unassuming, ones amongst her in-laws. She had known me since I was an awkward teenager. When I became an awkward adult, the overall transition was so subtle, few people noticed, and those who did only did so likely through some kind of OCD attention-to-detail-inspired dumb luck.
The truth is, I was severely flirting-impaired. I spent virtually all of my twenties, and a couple of years in my thirties mysteriously and disturbingly single. The more any kind soul tried to help, the more flirting-impaired I got. It was all very excruciating—at least until I discovered internet dating. In the privacy of my home office, and far away from the family petri dish (and accompanying microscope), I fell down the virtual rabbit hole of online dating.
Now, six years later, the bombshell of my meeting a guy “online” is a faded memory, and I had to go and shake things up again with this aspiring author thing—why couldn’t I just get married like a normal person—why couldn’t I just start acting like a normal person—for the love of all that is holy why can’t I just be a normal person?
Normal, now there’s word rarely used in the same sentence with my name. Imagine the relief my behaving in a conventional matter could inspire! All of my loved ones waited with bated breath believing in the “any day now” paradigm. After all, Palucid and I have been living common law for six years now, and have been doing so quite happily at that. We have come a long way since that first email. For example, I only refer to him by an internet moniker in my writing—in all other circumstances we are on a first-name/pet-name basis. His parents like me, my parents like him, and my flirting skills (or lack thereof) have been rendered superfluous. Slow bloomers everywhere rejoice, because now with nothing to lose, this little blossom has now finally started to bud—more or less…