Parties. Standing around. Mingling. I think mingling is a myth. There is nothing about me that mingles with someone else. I am me. They are them.
Last weekend, at a mingle type of party, I let my social discomfort occupy my mind fully and of course, the benefit was that I forgot about my social discomfort, if you get what I mean.
I thought about being at parties where there are, inevitably, “new” people.
Do I need new people? Do they need me?
Some new people are a lot of work. You have to float several topics to see if you can find something to talk about.
And I really think that you can just look in someone’s eyes to know if they are okay to talk to or not. But simply staring is not socially acceptable, so people talk to each other.
I always ask who people are, where they are from, how they know the hosts. All with the hopes of steering people away from asking me about me.
Who am I? How would I describe myself to a stranger? I need time to think. And there is no time to think deeply at parties.
I often wonder how I seem to others at parties. Do I look like someone who has personality quirks? Of course, I am sure I have none.
You never know who you will meet at parties. It can be like having a fresh start. New people to entertain with one’s wit and years of experience.
Maybe we get lazy by always spending time with people we know. The people who know us know what we do, what our kids are doing, and know our history of illness, disaster, family problems and our personal regrets. They don’t bring up stuff we don’t want to talk about. They already know all our stories, but can listen with perspective if we have new quandaries and need advice.
“Hi, it’s me,” we say, when they answer the phone.
If you gotta go, you say it. And it’s okay. You’ll talk again.
Not so at a party. After a conversation that goes nowhere, these people tend to avoid each other for the rest of the evening.
Which brings me to extrication. Experienced party-goers know how to escape from conversations. I, on the other hand, stand in awkward silences, wondering if I can move on and not seem rude when conversation has run out. If someone says they love Donald Trump, I don’t want to continue and feel no need to enlighten a stranger with my own, sane point of view. What do do?
And why do people ask intense questions right after you take a bite of a particularly-chewy appetizer? This explains why some people load up a plate and stand, their backs to the room, hunched over their food. They scarf down snacks in private. I know they do. This also affords one the opportunity to discreetly dispose of icky-tasting things that looked good, but taste, well, questionable.
I have concluded that, as usual, I think too much about things.
It is a privilege to be invited to people’s homes to meet the other people they know. There really are few expectations. Don’t stand on the tables. Don’t drink other people’s drinks. Lock the bathroom door if you’re using the facilities. Don’t sit by yourself in the corner and say out loud that you want to go home.
Instead, come out and play. It can be of infinite interest to see inside other people’s worlds and listen to how someone else’s life is going. Or: distract yourself if you are ill at ease. Sometimes, you can tell a lot about someone just by looking at their socks.
Parties. Never a dull moment.
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