I went to a birthday party last night in which I knew like four people out of probably twenty-five. Two of those four were the hosts and I didn't want to monopolize their time but I really wanted to monopolize their time. Instead I stood by the food table fumbling through conversation with one of Jessica's really lovely friends, compulsively stuffing caviar tarts in my mouth. I cut off a piece of brie to eat, but I made the mistake of placing it on my napkin. When I picked it up to eat, it had made itself inseparable from the paper. Rather than look wasteful I awkwardly shoved the whole napkinbrie in my mouth. Then I pretended like I didn't just eat napkin to Jessica's friend who had watched the whole thing go down. I needed a drink. The problem with being borderline co-dependent is that while I could see the booze on the counter behind her shoulder, I just couldn't get to it. She wasn't drinking and walking to get a drink meant leaving her on her own. So I stood there making eyes with bottles who didn't even know my name, nervously twisting apart the remains of another napkin.
This yoga teacher I used to know would tell a story in workshops about how he was sitting on a plane in conversation with the man next to him. At the end of the flight the man said to him, "Wow! You're so interesting!" The yoga teacher told us, "And you guys, I hadn't said a word!" Hahahahahaha. He then offered up one of the many platitudes designed to be a slogan on t-shirts and tank tops, "If you want to be interesting, be interested."
That has stayed with me. Whenever I find myself at a party or in any other social situation in which there are strangers, I do my best to think of things to ask about. The problem isn't typically with my company. It's that there are words swirling around in my brain that could form questions, but those words don't necessarily go together or have anything to do with the conversation at hand. PLANTS...BRAINS...NO HAVE? MY DRESS WAS ON SALE.
I happen to be the only person in my house who is mostly an introvert. This is a problem because Ryan, who has lived in LA less than a quarter of the time that I have, knows more people here than me. I frequently find myself in conversations that I might want to have, but can't. I have tried to give Ryan the signal before that it's time to go or hey, can we not stop in the first place, but bless his heart, he can't be trusted to lie. There are few times when he's awkward in conversation, and it's when he has to make up a reason for why he can't talk for an hour. "Oh. I'm sorry. We have to go somewhere...else. We have to go. We have to do stuff. Jonah."
In my next life, otherwise known as having a child, I'd like to think I'd handle social situations with conversational ease and grace. Without having to eat napkins for strangers.
*Holy jesus. I literally used this title to talk about my social anxiety five years ago. Sadz.