I toddled off to the city today to grab some pressies for the Smith Family Christmas Appeal (it's a program where you donate presents for underprivileged kids for Christmas) and had a couple of those unfortunate social spasms, that I thought I should share with everyone.

Now, for those who aren't clear what I mean, social spasms are those things you do completely involuntarily when faced with a peculiar social situation. It could be anything, such as stumbling while walking on the street, then expressing a puzzled look of disbelief while you search in vain for the invisible log or brick that caused you to falter.

Anyway, for my part, I had two very public, very uncomfortable, very cringeworthy social spasms today...allow me to expatiate ;)

My first was on the way to the city. I was walking along playing with my phone (which I shouldn't really do, as it distracts me from doing fundamental operations such as seeing and walking), when I suddenly stopped! At the same time, I felt a dull pain in my knee. I've been watching the first two seasons of House thanks to Franky, so I knew I had to perform a "differential diagnosis". A quick survey of my surroundings helped me conclude that I had walked into one of those knee high green metal benches that are ludicrously scattered around the city, clearly installed to catch people unawares! Anyway, this is a perfect opportunity to have a social spasm. Now, I had a few options... I could (a) Pretend I just received an urgent phone call, and stopped completely by myself, as it so happens, with my knee flush against a bench. (b) Sit down immediately, as if I was using the sense of touch to guide me to my roosting spot. (c) Burst out into a mad rant, blending gibberish with a light seasoning of C# syntax while lifting my shirt up and down, detracting peoples attention from my folly. So what did I do? Well, not being blessed with appropriate social spasmata (not a real word, but you get the gist), I just looked left and right, went red with embarrassment, and scurried of like a scampi!

So then I get to the toy department at Myer, and start looking for some toys. Now, I had to get four pressies, two presents for two boys, and two presents for two girls. Now, Yil and I don't have kids yet, but our nieces and nephews provide us with a basic sense of toy procurement. Problem is, at this time of year, the toy department resembles the trading floor at the NYSE, with some of the parents more ruthless and unforgiving than a Goldman Sachs intern! So I wander aimlessly around feeling disoriented, finally pick up some Lego and Bionicles for the boys, then start looking around for presents for the girls. So I end up in the Barbie section, which is a mystery in itself (I mean, there was one which was 'Barbie by Hilary Duff'...huh? I couldn't find the 'Barbie by Oprah', now that would be a Christmas surprise!) to a 29 year old male with no children (let along daughters). So I do what most geeks do, I consult an expert. So I turn to this little girl next to me (yes yes, I know, why didn't my "this isn't going to look very good to the outside world" radar go off?) and ask her, "So which Barbie would you recommend?". This little girl was like the Rene Rivkin of Barbie, and started giving me a comprehensive SWOT analysis of each doll. I was learning alot, until her mum came over to see who her 5 year old daughter was engrossed in conversation with. Well, by the transition of her face as she turned the corner to discover me (after a few days growth I look like a stereotypical terrorist/kidnapper/kebaberer) seeking her daughters counsel on the state of the art of dolls, and not another little girl of equal age and physical stature, made me realise I had another social spasm opportunity. Again, I could have (a) Introduced myself as the local Mattel rep doing in-store research with the target demographic. (b) Pointed at a random girl child of similar age and said "Yeah, my daughter loves Barbie too". (c) Sprint towards the escalators, pushing old women and children out of my way, covering my face Michael Jackson style (no, the irony didn't escape me) with the closest Fedora hat. Instead, I give the mother a look that is somewhere between "I'm simple of mind despite being oafish in size" and "my stare is more surprise than criminal intent!". She grabbed her daughter and politely rushed off, while still doing that backward glance that shrieks, "Come near my child and experience my Katana like acrylic nails!"

Oh well, just more reasons why you should avoid interacting with the public as much as possible! (Only joking!)