I am not very often lost for words. I am pretty good at talking – so good I can even do it while walking at the same time. I was always excellent during interviews because I was able to bullshit convincingly enough to get a job – a skill I put down to having three older brothers and not wanting to look like the ‘spazzy younger brother’ when their friends came over.
What’s more, I actively enjoy conversation, whether it’s on the phone or in person I like interaction, meeting new people. As a very young cherubic-faced blond child I would stand on the roadside outside our house talking to people as they walked past (I did actually get offered sweets once which I like to think shows I was an attractive child). My mother would always realise and pull me inside trying once more to instil in me the mantra ‘thou shalt not talk to strangers!’ I – with faultless logic – once replied, ‘but if I talk to them, they won’t be strangers anymore.’ Ah, sweet.
So why is it that if I am faced with a girl I really fancy my finely honed conversational skill deserts me like French infantrymen? I shouldn’t make quips about the French – I bet they don’t get this problem, smooth bastards. It doesn’t happen so much now because I am older than I used to be (what an obvious thing to say) and also I am in a relationship and intrinsically know I have nothing to lose and am not after anything. When I met Michelle for the first time, I babbled absolute shit though. I’d like to think I did it with aplomb but really that’s a fiction and I ended up talking about the kids instrument ‘Gazoos’ when I meant ‘Kazoos’. I can only assume she found the bumbling Englishman thing cute. More Hugh Grant than Hugh Hefner, I mean shambolic buffoon rather than slick operator not that I’d rather sleep with a prostitute than a playboy bunny.
I should also qualify this by saying its doesn’t happen just because a girl is physically attractive, it only happens if I fancy them – they have that ‘thing’ about them that makes them really stand out. Doesn’t really happen now as I am with Michelle, but I am sure that if, hypothetically, my relationship with Michelle was to end, my ‘dribble tongue syndrome’ would return.
Not being a girl, I can’t say whether there is a female version of this although it would seem there probably is. A fair while ago, when I was about 19, a previous girlfriend I met said she’d experienced this when we’d first met. I was part of the media team filming a version of Jesus Christ Super Star and was relaxing with the cast during a rehearsal break. We were sat in a group and one of the girls introduced herself to me, we chatted briefly, and I then turned in an attempt to include her friend in the conversation. The exchange when like this:
Me “…and who are you?”
Her: “Oh er…I’m just a leper in the crowd.”
Me: “Yes...but do you have a name?”
Both of my parts in that exchange had come out much harder than I’d meant them to, because I was nervous, fancied this girl, and wanted to seem relaxed and confident – but my brain turned them into gruff and blunt. She had apparently fancied me for a few days by that stage, and panicked when the object of her affections actually spoke to her. In that instance, all worked out fine, but it makes me wonder how many potentially great relationships never get a chance to exist because one person panics or gets flustered and says or does something they wouldn’t normally say or do and creates a bad impression of themselves?