“This piece of software will quite literally blow your mind!” Really?  I don’t think so.

I am a literalist.  Almost everything I do is driven by logic.  I grew up playing with Mecanno, Airfix and home electronics sets.  I have three sisters, who are all expert in giving and reading hints, undertones, inferences and covert signals.  As a guy, I am, and have always been oblivious to this.  I am incapable of dropping a hint, and as a result, speak plainly.  I often fall foul of my sisters, who attempt to read into things that I haven’t said, believing I am sending out non-existent messages.  I often have to remind them, that if I haven’t said something to them in plain single syllable words, then they are not to imagine what I may be thinking by decoding my body language.

I reckon most guys suffer from this.  When asked “What are you thinking?” the honest answer is usually “Absolutely nothing”.  This makes no sense to them, and is deemed an unacceptable answer.  Conversely, I am also guilty of failing to pick up on clear signals, which only a fool would miss.  Not only do I not get it, but I refuse point blank to “get it”. It is illogical, as Mr Spock might say.

I repeat, I am a literalist. A (slightly older) colleague of mine, lives with his girlfriend.  He is her boyfriend.  However, there are no boys and girls in that relationship.  This is an unsatisfactory and plainly inaccurate term, which I feel unable to use.  I find it impossible to refer to black and white people.  I’m about as pale as anyone can be, and I know that there are no black or white people on this earth.  I realise it might seem disrespectful, but I see no reason to refer to someone by their ethnic background.  I wouldn’t say “that Jewish/ Muslim / Sikh guy, so why would I say “that black guy”?  If we are describing someone by the colour of their skin, then the literalist in me compels me to describe whatever shade of brown and/or pale some is (as we all are).  I realise that anyone of any shade can choose to describe themselves in any way they like, and that some Asian people refer to themselves as Black.  I respect that choice, but simply ask that you understand why I cannot call you, or anyone, black or myself white.  You’re not, and I’m not, literally.

Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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