Believe it or not, I’ve always been awkward and socially inept but that never stopped me from having friends. In my silence and insecurity, more dominant people were able to flourish without worrying about having a shadow cast upon them by my personality. I was bossy and manipulative but rarely in an obvious way. My flaws were tolerated because underneath them, I was a kind person who was fun to be around.
When I was ten, a new girl arrived at my primary school. One of my friends who had moved away knew her and told me to look out for her and to be friendly to her so I did and I was. She was quiet like me, perhaps even more quiet and we became friends quickly.
She came from a very religious family, which wasn’t that strange to me. I had grown up going to church but my family and I weren’t particularly religious. When I went to my new friend’s house for the first time, I didn’t know how to react to all of the religious signs and decorations. We went into her bedroom and her walls were covered in pictures and quotes from the bible. I wasn’t bothered by what I saw but in my awkward fashion, I made my first stupid comment.
One of the “posters” on her wall was written in pencil and it said something about the holy ghost. Growing up with brothers who liked to play pranks and scare me, I assumed her family was the same. “Oh! That’s so scary! Did your brothers do that?” I asked with a chuckle. She looked at me seriously and slightly embarrassed and said, “No. That’s from the bible.”
I started looking around her room for something else to talk about. I wandered over to her desk to look more closely at a Russian matryoshka doll. She followed me and said, “It’s just like my family.” She opened up the biggest doll and took out all of the smaller dolls. “See, this is me, this is my brother, this is my other brother, this is my mum and this is my dad.” I was trying to redeem myself after the holy ghost incident so I thought I would try to be witty. “Your dad must be HUGE if all of you guys are inside him!” I said with wide eyes and a big smile. She didn’t respond. I hadn’t met her father yet but later when he drove me home, I realised I had once again put my foot in my mouth.
Her father was huge. He was obese. She was obviously embarrassed by his size and I had made it even worse by trying to be funny. I don’t think I ever invited her over to my house. We stayed friends for a while but I didn’t want her to see inside my messed up world.