(a worryingly large part of my relationships with people are based on me misinterpreting their facial expressions from a distance)
Two of my friends live in the same halls as me, which is rather nice. Both are women, one has ginger hair, the other has dark hair (editing note: Jesus, these descriptions of my friends are getting less and less anonymous by the day). So imagine my excitement when, a few weeks ago, I saw two women around my halls walking together, with their backs to me, one with dark hair and one with ginger hair! Fortunately, before I could shout a misplaced greeting, they turned to look at something behind them, and I realised they were just two random women who I assumed I know because they have the unique characteristics of some rather common hair colours.
But things got weirder from there. I was out and about because I was on my almost-daily 11pm run to the Sainsburys up near Mornington Crescent to buy three sharing-sized bags of Doritos to eat by myself as I rewatch old Emma Blackery videos instead of doing something useful with my life; and as I walked there at a steady pace, these two women caught up to me, passed me, and stopped to look around. I assumed they were tourists, taking in local landmarks such as the rack of Boris Bikes near the park entrance where hooded youths hang around in a threatening manner, or the bins tucked away around the corner of a council estate that I may or may not have once had a slash behind after getting caught short walking home from a night out. And they crossed the road, crossed back, stopped, turned and talked with impressive energy and excitement. But every time I saw them out of the corner of my eye, I again mistook them for my friends and nearly said hello to them. Every. Time.
I’m not upset about the initial mistake. Without glasses or contacts my eyesight is diabolical (which is why I don’t make eye contact often – I’m not afraid of you, I’ll just invariably misinterpret that fuzzy thing you call a facial expression and create a needlessly awkward situation as a result) and I was using my naked eyes that evening. This was a mechanical problem with my body that I couldn’t do much about. No problem.
But the fact that I kept making the same mistake over is a mental problem, that I can’t remember that the fuzzy, red-headed shape that isn’t my friend is, in fact, not my friend, for more than like six seconds. I don’t know if I was tired, or my default setting is mere idiocy and I have to actively try not to be a moron whenever I interact with another human being, but I realised when I got home that, for a fifteen minute walk, I’d forgotten a few basic facts about my life and the people in it.
And the worst part is I saw those women again today walking home. And, again, I prepared to offer a greeting, only to realise my error, and my apparent lunacy.