Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Classical Novels > The Rosie Project > Chapter 30
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】
Chapter 30
I booked a meeting with Claudia at the usual café to discusssocial behaviour. I realised that improving my ability to interactwith other humans would require some effort and that my bestattempts might not convince Rosie. But the skills would beuseful in their own right.
I had, to some extent, become comfortable with being sociallyodd.
At school, I had been the unintentional class clown, andeventually the intentional one. It was time to grow up.
The server approached our table. ‘You order,’ said Claudia.
‘What would you like?’
‘A skinny decaf latte.’
This is a ridiculous form of coffee, but I did not point it out.
Claudia would surely have received the message from previousoccasions and would not want it repeated. It would beannoying to her.
‘I’d like a double espresso,’ I said to the server, ‘and my friendwill have a skinny decaf latte, no sugar, please.’
‘Well,’ said Claudia. ‘Something’s changed.’
239/290I pointed out that I had been successfully and politely orderingcoffee all my life, but Claudia insisted that my mode ofinteraction had changed in subtle ways.
‘I wouldn’t have picked New York City as the place to learn tobe genteel,’ she said, ‘but there you go.’
I told her that, on the contrary, people had been extremelyfriendly, citing my experience with Dave the Baseball Fan, Marythe bipolar-disorder researcher, David Borenstein the Dean ofMedicine at Columbia, and the chef and weird guy atMomofuku Ko. I mentioned that we had dined with the Eslers,describing them as friends of Rosie’s family. Claudia’s conclusionwas simple. All this unaccustomed social interaction, plus thatwith Rosie, had dramatically improved my skills.
‘You don’t need to try with Gene and me, because you’re notout to impress us or make friends with us.’
While Claudia was right about the value of practice, I learnbetter from reading and observation. My next task was todownload some educational material.
I decided to begin with romantic films specifically mentioned byRosie. There were four: Casablanca, The Bridges of MadisonCounty, When Harry Met Sally and An Affair to Remember. I added To Kill a Mockingbird and The Big Country forGregory Peck, whom Rosie had cited as the sexiest man ever.
It took a full week to watch all six, including time for pausingthe DVD player and taking notes. The films were incrediblyuseful, but also highly challenging. The emotional dynamics wereso complex! I persevered, drawing on movies recommended byClaudia about male-female relationships with both happy andunhappy outcomes. I watched Hitch, Gone with the Wind,Bridget Jones’s Diary, Annie Hall, Notting Hill, LoveActually and Fatal Attraction.
240/290Claudia also suggested I watch As Good as It Gets, ‘just forfun’. Although her advice was to use it as an example of whatnot to do, I was impressed that the Jack Nicholson characterhandled a jacket problem with more finesse than I had. It wasalso encouraging that, despite serious social incompetence, asignificant difference in age between him and the Helen Huntcharacter, probable multiple psychiatric disorders and a level ofintolerance far more severe than mine, he succeeded in winningthe love of the woman in the end. An excellent choice byClaudia.
Slowly I began to make sense of it all. There were certainconsistent principles of behaviour in male–female romanticrelationships, including the prohibition of infidelity. That rule wasin my mind when I met with Claudia again for social practice.
We worked through some scenarios.
‘This meal has a fault,’ I said. The situation was hypothetical.
We were only drinking coffee. ‘That would be tooconfrontational, correct?’
Claudia agreed. ‘And don’t say fault, or error. That’s computertalk.’
‘But I can say “I’m sorry, it was an error of judgement,entirely my fault”, correct? That use of “fault” is acceptable?’
‘Correct,’ said Claudia, and then laughed. ‘I mean yes. Don, thistakes years to learn.’
I didn’t have years. But I am a quick learner and was inhuman-sponge mode. I demonstrated.
‘I’m going to construct an objective statement followed by arequest for clarification, and preface it with a platitude: “Excuseme. I ordered a rare steak. Do you have a different definitionof rare?” ’
‘Good start, but the question’s a bit aggressive.’
‘Not acceptable?’
‘In New York maybe. Don’t blame the waiter.’
241/290I modified the question. ‘Excuse me. I ordered a rare steak.
Could you check that my order was processed correctly?’
Claudia nodded. But she did not look entirely happy. I waspaying great attention to expressions of emotion and I haddiagnosed hers correctly.
‘Don. I’m impressed, but … changing to meet someone else’sexpectations may not be a good idea. You may end upresenting it.’
I didn’t think this was likely. I was learning some newprotocols, that was all.
‘If you really love someone,’ Claudia continued, ‘you have to beprepared to accept them as they are. Maybe you hope thatone day they get a wake-up call and make the changes fortheir own reasons.’
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved