Mr. Gigglepants

Once upon a time, I cared about first impressions. If I was going on a blind date, I’d be sure to wear something flattering and order only finger food at dinner. That time has come and gone, in favor of meeting strangers at coffee shops with my schoolbooks sprawled across the table and my laptop propped somewhere atop the mess.

Last week, I met a guy in this fashion, thinking more of my upcoming test and less about my lack of companionship. He approached my table and laughed, as if this wasn’t our first time meeting. I half-expected him to roll his eyes and make a teasing joke. We launched into trusty chat about Canadian weather, as I scrambled to pack up my bags, laptop, scarf, and coat, when suddenly, he  began to laugh. It was a good-natured laugh–I interpreted it as nervousness– and continued to pack my entire life into two bags. I slowly (read: probably spastically) shoved my books away, and reached for my laptop, when this guy, still laughing, put the laptop away for me. He also placed my scarf in my bigger bag, and just as I went to thank him, I dumped all my pens onto the floor. His laughter started all over again as he picked up the pens one-by-one.

Eventually, I got my shit together, and he stopped laughing long enough to suggest we go for burgers. Soon enough, we were sitting across from each other, stuffing our faces with those A&W burgers that are named after members of family. He told me about his job, about how he can build computers, and I listened,picking at my Mama burger, when bam. Some asshole dropped a tray in the kitchen and I spazzed-out hard. My date laughed and laughed again, and I tried to explain:

“Sorry, I hate noise,” definitely the most inaccurate and unhelpful explanation of my startle reflex I’ve ever given.

His laughter slowly trailed off, and we began having the world’s longest conversation about dogs (and dogs vs. cats, and how people that love cats are weird–apologies to half the population). I decided to call it quits when the topic switched to how cat poop is so much easier to clean up than dog poop. Again, I started gathering my belongings, and again his giggle started.

I left the date/interview a little confused. I didn’t feel the person I’d just met was malicious in any sense, and thought his laugh to be prompted mostly by discomfort, but was a tad annoyed at myself for  feeling the need to justify my spasms. As I am usually the queen of nervous laughter, I couldn’t very well fault him for his reaction,but it is the first time I’ve experienced someone laughing at me out of discomfort.

And, for any fellow wheelies reading this, it is quite a relief to do the whole “not a single fuck was given,” thing and just disability all over the place for once. Sure, Mr. Nervous GigglePants might have been a bit weird with it, but, better he find out sooner than later, right? It’s all downhill from here.

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11 Comments

  1. I’m wondering if he was nervous because he was so unsure of how to make you feel comfortable with him. Being disabled myself, when I was single, being comfortable with a guy who was able-bodied was difficult. Believe it or not, there are guys who worry about the reacts of us women who have ‘the horrible challenge’. The first time I went out with my husband, he talked constantly about himself. He wasn’t being narcissistic. He was worried about my reaction to him. He wanted to make sure that I knew as much as possible about him so I’d be comfortable with him. I’m glad I went out on the second date with him.

  2. I have a hidden disability – epilepsy – so the “…” moments were likely to come when I informed the person I was dating rather than at the beginning of the relationship (because they had no idea – they couldn’t see it.) But still, I sympathize. Whether they come at the beginning or middle of a relationship, the “…” moments are always a challenge.

    Speaking of “,,,” moments, I recently had this happen:
    Starbucks Barista: What does your bracelet say?
    Me: Uh… Epileptic.
    Starbucks Barista: Oh.
    Me: Sorry.
    Starbucks Barista: I thought it was going to be one of those LiveStrong things.
    Me: Sorry. no.
    Starbucks Barista; It’s kind of like you’re wearing a bracelet that says “My father just died.”
    Me: “…”

  3. I enjoyed reading this…glad you joined Bloppies 🙂

    I’m really pretty ignorant about this kind of thing, so I look forward to an education via your blog. I’m beginning to learn more – one bloggy friend writes about her life with CP, but I’m dense and even forgot that my best-guy-friend is disabled until he reminded me once when I was lamenting that I didn’t have a clue how to act ‘properly’ around people with disabilities.

    I hope you’ll forgive my bluntness and transparent social-awkwardness, and tolerate me here as I try to learn to be better behaved.

    • Thanks for reading. I guess one of the points of my writing is to show that there is no “proper” way to act around people with disabilities, only certain ways that we, and people in general, want to be treated. And I appreciate your willingness to mention ignorance around people with disabilities–courageous move, and it can only get better from here.
      I’m interested in knowing what it is that you feel makes you a bit uncomfortable around disabilities. Discomfort is not particularly uncommon, and I’d like to explore that more. If you’re interested, I’d like to continue this convo over email at williamskristen519@ymail.com

      • Certainly – and thanks for the invitation to chat. I’ll email you now.

        I mention ignorance mostly because I know I absolutely am. I’ve had very little personal exposure to people who have disabilities, and it’s something which concerns me – when I meet a person who’s clearly disabled and I just don’t at all know how to handle it without somehow causing offense, so I tie myself up in knots.

        Possibly a little like Mr Gigglepants there…

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