Since the age of 18, I have had to learn many social rules that Sidekicks (neurotypical people) seem to know without instruction. As I encountered a situation that required a new social rule, I would write it down in my leather journal so I could keep track of the ever changing, complex social world. Here are these rules, exactly as they appear in my journal.
1. When someone asks “How are you?” this is not, apparently, an invitation to a conversation about you. Most people expect “I am fine” followed by a rhetorical “How are you?”
2. Occasionally you will encounter someone who answers your rhetorical “How are you?” with “wait until you hear what happened to me today!” You won’t have to wait, they are going to tell you now. Do not panic. Nod your head and say things like “uh huh” and “oh really.” Casually scan for exits and start to slowly walk toward one. If the story is too long or it seems they will just never shut-up, ask to borrow $100. This will effectively end their rant and result in their quick departure.
3. If they actually give you $100, run.
4. It is considered polite to offer people a snack when they are a guest at your house. If they accept, you must also provide drinks and napkins, otherwise you will have to keep getting up to get them things.
5. If you like your guest and want them to stay or return sometime, you can offer them flavored drinks, soda or your favorite tea. If you offer them alcohol they may stay for hours or even over night, especially if they drink too much. If you do not like your guest, withhold your favorites and alcohol drinks from them. If they won’t go, serve wasabi sauce for dip and tell them you are out of drinks.
6. Some people do not eat breakfast and some people eat funny little foods which usually consist of a berry spread and a blackened piece of bread. As strange as this is, you must still offer breakfast to overnight guests, even if you know they don’t usually eat breakfast. It is best to AVOID the following foods:
Eggs (unless you are willing to cook them. Guests don’t appreciate being handed a raw egg and a pan.)
Honey-nut Cheerios (or any other dry cereal that has a cartoon on the box)
Stale bread (unless it has a French name)
Cookies (unless it is a Holiday)
7. When asking a guest what they want to eat, they may answer “What do you have?” This does not mean to exhaustively list what is in your cupboard. The real answer to this question has not yet been discovered.
8. In the summer, avoid sitting next to someone wearing plastic bottom flip-flops (thongs, they are also called). They usually slide their feet out of them releasing a terrible odor. It is impolite to ask them to put their smelly feet back into their shoe.
9. If someone asks to borrow a piece of paper, they really want to keep it. Only give one if you don’t expect it back. The same can go for pencils, pens, and money.
10. Most people consider stealing a criminal act. To many this means that when a criminal takes something it is stealing. When an average person takes something (like your pencil, money they found on the floor or cable television) many believe this is not considered stealing. Rather it is called “finding something” or “getting what is owed to them.” It is best to avoid talking about this.
11. The term “speed limit” is not usually interpreted literally as the maximum speed you are allowed to travel. Rather it is interpreted as how fast you should be going, at least. Unless a police officer is sitting on the side of the road, at which time traffic will suddenly slow to a speed no greater than 5 mph below the posted “speed limit.” If the police officer is driving on the road with traffic, the speed limit is slower then he is going.
12. Turns signals are subjective.
13. It is not okay to shout at stupid people, unless you are in a drive-thru or watching television alone.
14. Many people think automotive glass is a magic one-way mirror. Therefore, you are not required to attempt reading their body language.
15. Brake lights are also subjective. Many people think brake lights can read their minds and double as a turn signal. Many also believe that brake lights get brighter as they increase pressure to the pedal. Keep your distance.
16. Sometimes people clean their windshields using their windshield wipers after doing something stupid. This is meant to fool you into thinking they only made an error because they could not see properly. However, you should not laugh and point. This is because the washing of their windshield removes the magic two-way mirror at which time they will give you body language they expect you to interpret.
17. Ignoring angry drivers makes them angrier. There are many unanswered puzzles in the universe.
18. “Knock, knock?” is always followed by “Who’s there?” If you play along, the joke is over faster.
19. If someone asks you an absurd question like “Why did the pink elephant cross Wall Street?” this is not a puzzle you are to solve. It is a joke. Most people expect you to say “I don’t know” even if you don’t mean it.
20. Most people seem to mean what they say, unless you disagree with them or act hurt. Then they will say “well, I didn’t mean it that way.” You are expected to do the same.
21. Do not sing the final question song from Jeopardy when you are bored of waiting for someone. Never, ever.
22. “Kiss my butt” is one of many phrases not meant to be taken literally. It is a phrase that means they are displeased with you. However, there are other types of south region kissing that are acceptable and even wanted, but most guys expect girls to deny them this.
23. “Oh god” during sex means for once you are doing something right.
24. Dating – let’s just say the blind need a seeing eye dog and you need a dating guide. This activity is filled with innumerable social land mines.
25. Saying “thank you” for a lousy gift, which is expected of you, is only convincing if you say it with a smile and a higher pitched voice. Try not to look scary by showing too many teeth. Do not look for a gift receipt right away. Wait until you are alone.
26. Be careful with handshakes. Some handshakes have hidden meanings. Some people, especially those with bad breath, seem to find it charming to hold onto your hand after shaking and then talk at you. If they won’t let go, pretend to sneeze. They will usually let go then.
27. It is more polite to make up an excuse to leave a conversation than to tell them you are bored with them.
28. Everyone thinks they are right when it comes to religion. The more right they are, the louder they are about it. It is best not to talk about this.
29. Everyone thinks they are interesting and this is okay. It is the ones who aren’t interesting that are problematic. Remember who these people are and avoid them at all cost. Dull people are easily offended.
30. When someone asks you if you have knowledge on a particular topic you happen to have great interest in, they are only interested in a simple “yes” from you. Then you must listen to them tell you all about it anyway. If you know more than they do, they do not care to know about it. Apparently people want to entertain others with their knowledge, right or wrong, and do not wish to actually learn anything.
31. Do not spontaneously quote lines from movies. It never goes over well, especially of they fail to recognize you are quoting a movie.
32. People like to contradict themselves. They think it makes them interesting.
33. Always be on good terms with someone who owns a machete or any type of gun that can blow the antlers off of a deer.
34. Some elderly expect you to feel guilty for being younger. This is usually called “bitter,” a term that means they are entitled to make mean comments because they lived a “more difficult life.” A “more difficult life” is living in any era other than the one you are from. It is best to not speak during one of their rants.
35. Fisherman are more like taxidermists than they are like Jacques Cousteau. Therefore, most people fishing in the surf at the beach will not know anything about sea life and will easily become irritated by your questions.
36. At a wedding when a Priest says “speak now or forever hold your peace,” you are expected to hold your peace, especially if you are the one getting married.
37. It is acceptable to talk to your pets as people. However, you must not talk to people like they are pets. Somehow there is a difference but I’ll be damned if I can figure it out.
38. Many wives have a secret language that uses no words….even if their husband is ugly. I have yet to find a dictionary on that topic.
Excerpt from my book I am Snamuh, 2nd Edition, available on Amazon.com
Read reviews of my book from the First Edition page