The old man and I took our boy to a birthday party yesterday. The mom of the birthday boy gave us the option to stay or leave. For years I’ve looked forward to the day when I could drop the boy off at a party and return in a few hours to retrive him, but hubs decided that yesterday was not to be that day. We stayed.
So that leaves me in the postition of chatting with the other parents who are milling around. First you talk with the other moms about school, about teachers, about homework. Maybe then you move on to talking about siblings. How old, how they compare/contrast with your party attendee. You might compliment the hostess on the cake and clever party theme.
And now what else…oh! The fair! The fair is coming up. Are you going to the fair? Yes, it’s expensive. More expensive than last year, I think. And last year was more expensive than the other years. I think it’s a trend.
You look down at your watch.
Twenty minutes have elapsed.
One hour, forty minutes until you can graciously extract yourself from this scene.
I always set the highest hopes for my ability to thrive in a social setting. I envision myself, at ease and fluid, bantering with other moms. If I can imagine it, so it will become. I’ll command laughs and and invitations to play dates. Maybe an invitation to coffee, or a night out to a movie with an adult who is not my husband.
Ah, but it never goes that way. The conversation remains stiff and superficial. And then, once the topics are all exhausted, we stand silently and watch our children play, turning to our phones to check on nonexistent important business.
I think it must be the company. These young, prim, upper-middle class mothers, with their clean cars and husbands who are out weed-whacking the yard every Saturday morning. They can’t see past my messy hair and nervous laughter to the inner me that is there for anyone who cares to look.
Or maybe it is me. Maybe I can’t let the real me out. Or maybe I can’t quite locate that valve that controls just how much of her comes out at a time. I find a friendly face and do the small talk thing and and suddenly a rush of words are escaping my mouth, and I think that I can detect a stray glance as my listener looks for an opportunity to sloooowly back away and make a critical run for more hors d’oeuvres.
I think it may be both at different times. I only know that small talk for me is torture, pure torture. If only the world could communicate via blogs. The person could blog, and I could read it, and then I could take my time to formulate a thoughtful and suitably humorous response. And then, we would switch, and reciprocate.
Then, I am sure, I would be the life of the party.