Looking Good in an Awkward Situation

2010 October 13
by Dave


In my line of work, there is the occasional call to attend an after work function of some kind. In the beginning I am always excited. I love parties. I love food and drink. I love celebrations. Let’s face it, I just love getting out of my house. I eagerly volunteer my presence with a sheen in my eye that can only be described as sheer elation.

I dream for days of the wine and hor d’oerves. I can see myself, flute in one hand and empty cocktail napkin in the other, laughing at the genius of my compatriots. I am, after all, the life of any party.

But then, the day of such an event, my mood turns sour. I always remember what the last one was like. Sitting alone, awkwardly, looking all of the people, trying to look busy by sending text messages to friends and family that read things like, “I think I should grow a goatee,” and “It smells like garlic here.” I tell myself that this time will be different. I will mingle. I will laugh. I will squeeze folks on the neck and shout jubilantly, “That same thing happened to me!”

The first scenario is how they inevitably all end up.  Most of the time I don’t even take a glass of wine or a liverwursted Ritz cracker for fear of being told that I don’t belong. And this is odd for me. I usually don’t feel this way. In any other social situation I am very outgoing, bordering on obnoxious.  But there is just something about these sort of functions that brings out the inner alienated youth in me.

The truth is, I could never mingle. It has never been easy for me to work a room. Sit me down next to some one, promise me that they won’t walk away to talk to their co-workers mid sentence, and I’ll make best friends within ten minutes. I can get over the fact that I have nothing in common with these people. I can talk and interact with the strangest of characters. But give them free range to walk around and I’m lost.  Hopelessly and miserably lost. I usually find a place to sit, out of the way, outside if the weather is nice, and drink my plastic cup filled with ice water. I leave early, sneaking out, a skill I perfected from watching my father in similar social gatherings, and move on with my night.

But it always nags at me. “Next time will be different. Next time I’ll be cool.”

I’d love to hear how others handle these situations.

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