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Published: Verve Magazine, February 2013, Nerve>Society

Cliques are strange circles, providing the ability to extend your own sense of self with a soulmate. But what happens when you get stuck with the one person whom you don’t get and one who just doesn’t get you?

You are the person looking in, waiting to be a part of the camaraderie, the shuffle, the Cha-Cha-Cha of conversation and friendship as if it were a graceful routine you can master. But then, on occasion, you may get stuck with a foolish wit, the Ernest kind, or daresay…a doppelgänger – someone who must be having a nefarious purpose in being a part of the universe, but appears unnaturally, and to be a part of yours.

One fine day, a major plan is made, wine and dine you must, to celebrate a special occasion, for which reason, the group plans to meet at a designated spot. Unfortunately the Wit and you are the only ones to arrive so far. Both of you sit in absurdist silence; manage to jerk out a few syllables on the day, the lateness of the others, irritated noises, frustrated gasps and a whole lot of grunting. It’s not too removed from the first time you have inexperienced sex while you are drunk and want to throw up. No one really knows what works. And it mostly doesn’t.

As most young women of today are trained in yoga for situations like these, deep breathing may work – and if you concentrate really hard, the unpleasantness of the creature in front of you can be ignored. And just when you are able to block him out of your radar, he chooses to launch. Into an involved conversation – to fill the nervous tension in the air. He’s grandly describing his immense and far-reaching connections – for a man with connections must be in want of an unfortunate sod to show them off to. He blathers on and you attempt to tune him out, painting mental pictures of a rose water bath or a peppermint scrub. And then you visualise his hairy arms soaking in the bath. Shudder.

You inadvertently look up at him and see a green leaf stuck in his tooth, and balk. Wondering whether you should mention it – for the sake of the group and everything. But that may mortify him further and create more nervous conversation. You suddenly notice he’s going on about lizards and earmuffs…what did you miss? You begin debating whether abandoning your gang at this stage in your life would be appropriate. Beat a hasty retreat, cut your losses et cetera.

While you never spent much time with this person when meeting in a group, you would never have anticipated being so incredibly out of sync. Do you all really work well together or are you merely victims of degrees of separation? Do you all exist as characters of a musical and the sounds of discord happen when each sur is heard separately. Perhaps you haven’t cultivated an individual identity – you are nothing more than a sum of all people. You hear a sound. The others have arrived. Snap.