eastern block

Maybe, you think.  This one, this time, and you offer yourself hope.  Your luck is bound to change if you keep the faith and maintain some effort.  Isn’t it?  They wrote so well you thought they must be a native speaker.  A telephone accent suggested overseas somewhere.  but Macedonia, you still wouldn’t have guessed.  Not unattractive, if alternatively dressed and decorated.  Easily distracted, self-conscious, head overflowing with words, but not the assertion and command to deliver them.  Then faltering and smearing the end of sentences before unnecessarily berating and apologising.  Damaged.  And, more than likely: a bit mad.  You’d feel nervous about entering into anything casual in fear of finding her threatening to jump off a bridge of something.  Not necessarily because of you; because of anything.  You’re here now, you tell yourself, don’t be too hasty or dismissive.  Conversation ebbs and flows with varying degrees of fluency: sometimes reasonable, other times not.  You express your fear of silences, particularly in scenarios like this – there should easily be enough things to say, right? – and your need to fill them.  You usually do this with possibly excessively rapid questions, in a style that might appear interregatory or intimidating to the timid.  You’re simply trying to elicit animation of some kind, vivacity perhaps, or at least a passionate belief or interest.  There’s a cultural divide to how this is expressed, you come to realise.  You expect or hope for some explosive expression of physical and facial interest, recognition, identification.  Something which can mutually infect and encourage a commonality.  It doesn’t arrive, is always demonstrated in a rather more flat and controlled way; everything feels like hard work.  Not many hints to emotion or understanding.  You uncertainly deploy attempted humour, not knowing if it’s understood because the reception is always the same: a meekly turned cheek.  So you qualify that it’s a joke, you were teasing, and you ask if they do understand this.  Yes, they do understand, they say, looking left and right while trying to squeeze out their words.  But there’s no western indication: a smile, a raised eyebrow, a riposte of any sort, which suggests in the moment that they really do.  And it’s not helped by the fact that you don’t understand everything they say when they eventually speak fast about their interests.  They’re clearly smart, well-read, and when they focus and engage you, it feels like they’re properly listening.  Because it’s often you doing the talking.  You become self conscious about asking quickfire questions, which are met with little more than one, two, or three word answers.  When finally you leave, you still doggedly try to evoke animation of some kind, “banter,” “chemistry,” perhaps.  “HAVE A PERSONALITY!” you almost want to scream.  You’re not a gazillion miles away from there some days yourself, but at least you can pretend to be a reasonably balanced, confident individual.  Give it a go?  No?  Sure?  Nada.  Kiss-kiss.  Bye then, nice to meet you.


2 Responses to eastern block

  1. T Fabs says:

    Ha, how the hell do people jump over cultural divides when it comes to flirtations with the opposite sex? It’s not like we’re trying to marry these people; we’re just trying to talk, flirt a little, and be genuinely friendly. I’m not sure I’m meant to understand how all of this works.

  2. swashbuckled says:

    think perhaps we underrate / take for granted what are important cultural nuances of communication? Then it can all grind to a halt or get a bit awkward.

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