Sunday, September 4, 2011

Throwaway Comments That Make Me Feel Like Shit

The thing about moving country (there are many things about moving country, obviously, but this is one of the things) is that you find yourself being introduced to people a lot more then you're used to. In fact, the majority of your social circle are people you don't know all that well, which is something I've never had to deal with before. It's only natural that people make assumptions about you, and it's only right that you should be terribly offended by them.

The more I've had to correct people on not being from America and not being an alcoholic, the more I'm forced to think about the various points in my life where I've been tempted not to correct people, just to save myself an awkward conversation.

"I always thought you were an only child."

My friend Johno and I orbited the same social circles throughout our adolescence, but only really hang out now that we both live in London. As a result, we only kind of half-know each other. Recently, when I mentioned my brother in passing, he expressed great surprise.

"You have a brother?"
"I have brothers. And a sister."

"You always struck me as an only child."

"Do you realise how offensive that is?"

"It's just that you carry yourself in a way that makes me think you had no-one to play with as a child."

I'd muster the energy to be more offended if this were the first time I'd heard it. A boss I once had (whose key asset to the company was passive-agression) once announced the same assumption. While I tried to mask my sudden violent urge to smack her in the face (is that an only child thing, too?) I asked her for an explanation. "I dunno. The way you talk or something."

Apparently I act in a way that suggests I may have been raised in a cardboard box. I think I brought this all on myself. Sometimes I think even my family forget I'm not an only child. Very often, perhaps too often, one or more of my family members will say something like "Peter Nagle is moving back to Cork!"
And I will say "Who is Peter Nagle?"
And they will say "Peter Nagle. He lived next door to us for eight years."
And I will say "Oh."
And they will say "For fuck sake, Car. SWITCH. ON."

"What part of America are you from?"

The part that feels very embarrassed for both of us right now.

"How long have your parents been divorced for?"

I once very briefly dated a guy with divorced parents. (N.B: The relationship was not brief because his parents were divorced, but rather because he was bat-shit insane and once shouted at me for apparently getting crisp-dust in his eye) While sympathetically nodding my head to the story of his childhood plight, he suddenly came out with "So, how long have your parents been split up?"
When I told him that my parents have been happily married all my life, he looked surprised. I asked him why he thought my parents weren't together, and he just shrugged, but he gave me a look that I've become very good at recognizing. It's a look that says "I just kind of looked at you now and worked backwards."

"You have a boyfriend? As in, actually?"

No, 'Brian' is my CAT'S NAME.

Well, hes one of them.

"You're kind of more of a one-on-one person to hang out with"

What in the hell does that mean? Is that even a compliment?

"I think you might be slightly autistic."

Recently, me and the aforementioned not-cat Brian (also known as Sweeney, because Brian is his slave name) went on a holiday to Kerry. I want you to picture the scene for a minute. We're lying on a beach, the air is balmy, the sea is salty, the marram grass is prickly and unwelcoming. He turns to me and says

"I think you might be slightly autistic."

"Excuse me?"

"You have trouble recognizing people's facial expressions."

"No I don't! What the fuck? What is wrong with you? What kind of thing is that to say to someone?"


"That is horrible. You are a horrible person. Fucking hell. Jesus."

"See! You're so bad at recognizing people's facial expressions you don't even realize that I'm obviously joking."



"But by that logic you still think that I'm..."


Long pause.

"You're the autistic one."

Sometimes it's nice to know you're not in it alone.

P.S: Some of you may have noticed that my blogging has gotten a bit infrequent lately. If you simply need chunks of Caroline in your cereal everyday you can find me over at the rather marvellous Best for Film. I post news stories every morning, and you can read my longer stuff here.


  1. i can never talk to you again , you have memory of an elephant and the skills of a stenographer ..oh woe is me! fie on t' fie,,, what else did i say? i'll wait for the autobiography..miss you

  2. If you weren't such a terrible human being I wouldn't have to take detailed notes on what you say and then tell the world at a much later date.