While I’m not always nice, when I am, I’m very friendly. It’s a trait I’ve come to accept.
And all my life, my friendliness has often been, we’ll say, “misconstrued”.
I know I can’t be the only one this happens to.
So, you might understand what I felt as I blinked at my sister after her special announcement.
The nice people downstairs redoing her kitchen wanted to have a foursome with me.
Yeah, I’d thought, “where the hell did that come from?” too.
Accounting principles 101 says, “don’t assume unless otherwise stated.” You’d imagine everyone understands “101” means basic knowledge, but that’s the point of all this — people make assumptions about others.
A few days before Halloween, my sister threw a party. She invited a lot of people including Alex, a close family friend who was overseeing the reconstruction of my sister’s kitchen and providing his own small crew, the head of which being his brother, Ryan.
(See where I’m going with this?)
They’d showed up a few times the week prior to work. I was alone in the house with them and would often come downstairs to clean, get food, or smoke some weed on the back porch.
Naturally, I didn’t want to be awkward and they were nice enough, the family trusted them. So, we chatted. I’d thought nothing of it until the morning after the Halloween party when my sister paid me a visit.
Through giggles, my sister explained what went on after I turned in for the night.
“So Alex told me something interesting,” she’d said, “his brother got drunk and confessed that they all had a crush on you and want to have a foursome. They’re going to ask next time they see you.”
“Wait? Who said that? The Crew? Which ones?”
“Oh, all of them,” Alicia said, her eyes widening as she tried not to laugh again. “They’re a throuple.”
“The hell? Why would they think that?”
“Who knows. They mentioned how you smoked weed and your tattoos. Maybe they think you’re ‘edgy’. They said you were really nice, too. Were you flirting?”
Assumptions are normal, but that doesn’t make them right
Assumptions are made every day by everyone.
According to a very interesting Yale study, the brain is a massive network of connections that requires a crazy amount of energy. And one of the ways the brain saves energy is by connecting the dots of previously stored memories about people, situations, etc. Then, it makes assumptions.
(I’m paraphrasing here, but you can check out the study yourself.)
The reason I bring this research up is to humor the people who might say, “It’s not a big deal? Be flattered and move on.”
It’s my way of saying, “yes, you’re right. It’s not a big deal.”
But also, it kind of is. To me, anyway.
How you may ask? One shining example might be 55 percent of men in the UK (taken from a sample of 1,104 adults) think “women are more likely to get sexually assaulted while wearing revealing clothes” (according to a special survey for The Independent).
This is an extreme statistic I’ve chosen. But it still carries a blanket message that can be used in business, politics, relations, and just life: assumptions are dangerous. Or at least, they’re awkward as hell.
I’ve had a lot of confused people straight up stop me after I say, “Hey you’re pretty cool” and respond, “Whoa, I don’t like you like that.”
(To which I give them a look and say, “that’s great, but not really what I was saying at all.)
I’d like to stop here and mention that yes, I’m also quite the flirt when I want to be, but I can’t see how the “nice weather we’re having” conversations I have with the majority of people — including my new friends — are all that suggestive.
(Is “Yeah, it is kind of cold today,” code for, “spank me, daddy!” or am I missing something?)
What I’m trying to say is, a smile and a pleasant conversation can mean a lot of things. And you probably shouldn’t be taking guesses about a person until you learn about them.
If these people had asked about me first before making such a confession, they’d have understood I don’t hop into bed with randos I’ve said five words to.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Let your freak flags fly, friends. But this maybe helps explain the tension when the crew returned.
And oh, there was a lot of tension.
“They know I know.”
A few weeks later, the crew came to work in what remained of the kitchen. My sister hadn’t told me. I was out at my car rummaging for a random item when I saw Ryan pull up in his truck.
I stared for a moment, squinting into the sun to be doubly sure until he held up a hand and said, “Hi!”
I’d returned the greeting with the least wobbly smile I could muster before abandoning my car quest and shuffling back inside to the garage, where’d I’d been practicing for an audition.
I kept singing, not knowing what else to do. They avoided me, glancing now and again. Out of the corner of my eye, I think I caught a tentative thumbs up.
They know I know, I’d thought.
But that itself was an assumption. (Like everyone, I make them all the time.)
I felt pretty bad about them being so jittery. They looked terrified of me like skittish raccoons caught digging in the trash. I didn’t realize they had a reason to be nervous.
So, I’d started the conversation with a small wave and a comment on the new kitchen cupboards.
I’d thought, hey maybe we were all wrong about them wanting to sleep with me. Or. that they might’ve tired out and concluded, maybe we shouldn’t ask if this chick is DTF.
But no, none of that happened.
Assumptions all around!
Instead, after some more light chit chat about what in the hell I was doing in the garage and, “how are you’s?” were passed along, they relaxed a lot. Enough to ask me a question, or start to at least. I assumed — like we’re not supposed to do — they were about to ask me about the foursome.
So, being the cringey lump I am, I intervened before they could.
“No,” I’d answered, when Crystal (the wife) started to say, “Listen, I’m not sure if you — ”
“Sorry, I just know what you’re going to ask. And, I’m gonna pass.” I added with a very set stare to indicate I meant “it” after Crystal switched gears and tried to explain.
She grew quiet then, and pale, which meant my guess had been a dead ringer. I spoke again before she could, making a swift exit to my room afterward.
“You know what? It’s fine, really.”
“Your lovers are still downstairs FYI. Did you talk to them? They look kinda spooked,” my sister announced when she popped in to check on me a few hours later.
“They’d started to ask me about the foursome and I couldn’t help but give my answer,” I confessed.
Alicia sat on the bed, which was my cue to vent, and I did.
“I just don’t get why they thought I’d be into it? They should have asked you first or kept quiet.”
“Weren’t you in a polyamorous relationship a few times?” Alicia asked. “Is it that big of a deal?”
“That’s not the point. I don't have a problem with their lifestyle. They’re being creepy.”
“Ah,” she said, standing from the bed and raising her finger as she made for the exit. “Now who’s making the assumptions? Should they have told us their feelings right off the bat, no, but they are good people — trust me. I wouldn’t bring just anyone into the house.
You don’t have to of course, but don’t think you have to stay up here. You can go practice. Choose to let it go. That’s what I’d do.”
“I’m sorry,” is the first thing Crystal said when I returned to the garage for rehearsal. “We just figured…”
I shook my head, offering a small smile I hope said, “please, drop the subject.”
No, maybe this isn’t the most mature way to handle the situation. It’s not like Ryan and his ladies had asked me for the foursome or even hinted at it — I was the one to halt that parade. And they really were nice.
Could I judge them for making a slip of the tongue to the wrong person under the influence like I’m positive we all have at one point or another? (And did by figuring they were being slimy.)
No, I couldn’t, but that still didn’t make it okay.
And that is what I hope is taken away from this story, not my mortification.
When it comes to social interaction, everyone brings their unique experiences and thoughts to the table. We pull from our past, from the people we’ve met to piece together situations and relationships until we can fill them in ourselves.
Obviously, it can get messy. But there’s an easy fix.
Before you jump to conclusions, gain knowledge. And the easiest way to gain knowledge is to ask questions. Ask yourself how the other person might see the situation, or what they’re going through. Get curious.
Assumptions only become problems if we’re set in our ways when we refuse to see anyone else’s way of thinking as a possibility — when we refuse to learn.
Or at least, this is what I’ve come to find.
And we all know what they say about assuming. It definitely seemed as if we all felt like asses, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t reset the situation.
This is what I decided to do as they watched me from their perch on the massive dumpster my sister had ordered from the debris as they took a smoke break, listening to me sing.
So, I went over and asked if I could perform for them. I’ll never know what they’re like in bed, but they were an excellent audience.