If we’re at a social gathering and it feels like I snub you that’s because I’m not a social butterfly. I’m more like a social moth. My wings are dusty. I check the doors to be sure they lock. I have debates with myself about what I’m supposed to do next. I have the social skills of a turtle. Just give me some lettuce.
Large groups of people don’t necessarily make me nervous, just uncomfortable. I don’t like people sitting or standing behind me. I don’t like it to the point where I’ll change seats. If I can’t see everything I feel somewhat flustered. I like to keep an eye on things.
That might sound cliche or overused or whatever but it’s because it’s a real thing that affects more people than it should.
Talking one-on-one and sometimes one-on-two is fine. I’ve researched effective communication skills and social graces. One of the best things I learned was to ask other people specific questions about what’s going on in their lives. People like to talk about themselves and then I don’t have to talk about me. High-five.
If someone invites me to come sit with their group I’m ready to get up before I even sit down. This doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of people at the table as much as that my fingernails are too long or my shoes are too tight or my eyebrows are messed up.
And it’s not that I’m stressing about those things but I’m acutely aware when I touch things of just how long my nails are. Or if my feet are hot because my shoes don’t have enough circulation. I feel it when there’s an eyebrow guy out of place and usually my whole world comes to a grinding halt until I deal with him.
I don’t write these things because I need a hug. I write them because I feel bad when thinking about the people left sitting at the table after I’ve abruptly left. You didn’t say anything offensive nor did you smell bad. Well, maybe you did but I’m not going to get that close to know.
Because guess how many homecomings I went to in high school? None. How many school dances did I go to? One. And then I left after 15 minutes. Those aren’t “poor me” stories, just evidence of a long standing reservation with public suspicion. Well, it’s not suspicion. It’s ice cream anxiety.
Shit happens when we’re kids and it shapes who we become, who we are. Regardless of how much we heal you can’t unbreak bones. We can burn our diaries but our DNA is infused with what we wrote. Our history doesn’t have to dictate our lives but it will cast a doubt moving forward.
Anyways, I do better at standing than sitting. Sitting is a commitment. Plus, what if there’s a fire and I need to leave immediately? That’s never happened to me but it’s a sound excuse. I don’t have panic attacks when I’m out but my thoughts wander, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. If I had boobs I would be unstoppable.
I check for my keys fairly often when I’m not at home. Doesn’t matter the situation or circumstances. Sara and I could just be having dinner and I’ll still want to know where my keys are. It’s not a nervous habit because I don’t feel nervous. My heart does skip a beat, though, if I don’t immediately feel them in my pocket.
Where the fuck are my keys? How am I going to drive home? People will look at me if I have to break into my truck. I’ll get all this attention that I don’t want. Keep your flashlights to yourself.
So there’s a dude in my neighborhood, moved in when I was drinking. Liked comic books and superheroes. I met him at a neighborhood party and I thought “oh, we could be friends!”
But we never did. I see the same antisocial behaviors in him that I know and love in myself. So I don’t take it personal when I see him in the alley and he only waves.
In related news one of the things I loved about drinking was that at those parties, the lights would dim after I got a few drinks in me and the sounds weren’t so loud. Really in reality, everything was the same but drinking made…everything not so much.
Do you guys remember that one New Year’s Eve party where I was recounting a riveting tail of wonder and amazement to a fascinated and captivated crowd of more than twenty? And then after my grand finale where I saved the day everyone cheered and clapped? That one time when I was the public speaking hero?
Yeah, I don’t remember that either. Because it didn’t happen. Most likely it never will. I’m not the life of the party but I will cheer you on to be. After I floss.
I don’t have low self-esteem. I’m fairly confident that I can hold my own talking individually with you about Jame Gumb or Bill Wilson or Bobby Flay. Just don’t ask me to play Cards Against Humanity. That’s too much pressure.