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I wonder if they give remedial lessons in socialization. I definitely missed out on some kind of education as a child, based on some of the ways that I just don't know how to behave with people.

Case in point: Edward. He's still striking me as a very nice person, and I'm hoping we develop a good friendship. Last Thursday, the first day I was back after the New Orleans gathering, I sent him an email asking how a programming project had gone that we had talked about during lunch on the day I left. He responded, saying he was just in the process of emailing me about it, told me it went fine, then invited me to join him and some of his friends for a game of volleyball on Sunday. I was quite happy to accept, and had fun playing, even in the slight rain. But then, Wednesday and Thursday of this week, I was once again trying to find the nerve to ask him to join me for lunch, and was twice unable to do so. But on Wednesday, after an incredibly foggy Tuesday night when I was unsuccessfully trying to divine the purpose of fog lamps on my car, and having checked that he has them on his car, I used that as an excuse to visit him at his desk in order to ask him if he knew what they were for, or if his do any good. He said his were useless also, and we joked about that for a while, then he invited me to play volleyball again this Sunday.

It seems clear that even the hypothetical Man from Arcturus would see that he likes me, at least so far. Why then do I quake in my boots when I want to suggest things to him?

This afternoon, I asked him about a problem I was having with CVS. Then, as I was leaving work in the evening, he asked me if I had gotten the problem fixed. We talked about that for awhile, then continued on to other discussions. Even while I was enjoying that, I was wondering if I was keeping him from leaving or something, though there was no indication of that. After fifteen minutes of talking about this and that, he asked me what my plans were for the evening. It seemed like he might really have been saying "I have no plans, you wanna do something?", yet I was afraid to take it that way, and made a non-committal remark. I felt so stupid. Then a co-worker needed some help, and while I was taking care of that, Edward went home for the weekend. He may have been handing me the very opening[1] I've been praying for, and I was afraid to take it; I think out of a fear of committing a faux pas by misinterpreting his action.

Contrast that with my action Saturday when a complete stranger appeared at my door, hawking homemade tamales. With nothing particularly at stake, I had no problem conversing with him – even in Spanish after correcting his assumption that I don't speak it – consummating a purchase, and even giving him my spare oven mitt so he wouldn't have to continue digging around in his bags of very hot tamales.

Even while I recognize that the romantic fantasies I've been having wrt Edward are not helpful to the first, real goal of friendship, I don't want to screw up what looks like it might be a good thing; and though nothing I've done has been harmful, it may be that the things I'm not doing are certainly not helping. Why can I deal with the meaningless, yet be totally unable to handle a very significant good thing that's come my way, which ninth-graders handle every day without even thinking about it?

I didn't think so at the time, but clearly my mom knew the score when, around seventh grade, my school suggested to my parents that I skip a grade; they vetoed that idea because, despite its appropriateness on the basis of my intellect, they knew that it would not help me socially. In fact, my mom would have liked me to go back a grade (except for the stigma that that would have brought me), or take a year off school (doing what I'm not sure; and there are the arguments that anti-home-schoolers make about a lack of socialization under that scheme) and then resume, but that never happened either.

[1] I don't mean to sound greedy -- the volleyball invitation was already a wonderful start.