Have you ever found yourself in one of those situations where you're forced to "mingle"? Ugh! Just typing out the word gives me goose bumps! Everyone has their fears. Mine just happens to be mingling. I dread those seasonal cocktail parties...and the time is quickly approaching. Sometime yesterday between disposing of Thanksgiving dinner and dragging out the Christmas decorations it suddenly dawned on me that once again I would be forced to mingle...converse with strangers, act interested, smile and nod...my pulse raced, my breathing quickened...I immediately headed to the back porch for some air.
This phobeia of mine has always been there. Social situations are not my forte. I didn't lack exposure as child. I was taught what to do, how to hold my tea cup, to smile and say please and thank you. It's the following story that has caused all the recent anxiety.
The last night of my 44th year (my family celebrates birthdays in a weird manner)...we were invited to a party hosted by a group of doctors from the hospital my husband works at. At the time we weren't married. My husband was a divorcee, very well liked, and had "dated" many of his coworkers. This was one of the first times I would meet the people he worked with and I had been told that they were all eager to meet me...the woman who had captured his heart. (Yes, he does say those things) The event was in one of the private party areas at a local brew pub/hotel.
We arrived to ohhhhhs and ahhhhhhhhhs and glad-to-finally-meet-yous and headed to the bar for a cocktail. My husband handed me a glass of wine and was wisked off by someone, promising to return shortly. Before I could say, I'll join you, he was gone. I stood there with my glass of wine in a room full of people I did not know praying someone familiar would appear. A woman next to me introduced herself ending with the comment "you and I REALLY need to talk"...what the holy hell did that mean? A woman standing nearby snorttled, the one next to her averted her eyes and laughed uncontrollably. I was starting to feel weird. I thought I might cry...so, I did what most women faced with those circumstances would do...I downed that glass of wine and headed into the ladies room.
It was empty when I went in. I locked myself in one of the stalls and blew my nose. Suddenly the ladies room was full of women laughing and talking, reminding me that I was at a party and really needed to get back to it and find my husband. Suddenly I realized that the laughter and the talking was about me! What the hell was I supposed to do? A strong woman would open the door, glare, and say something profound. I wasn't feeling very strong...I was actually in worse shape than when I entered. I just stood in that stall listening to their snide remarks and waited until they left. I eventually emerged, washed my hands and face, walked out the door, and headed directly to the bar.
My husband finally returned and introduced me to a couple he was very good friends with and we got in the cocktail line together. I was asked if I was enjoying myself and getting to meet everyone. And this is what I said (in a rather loud voice I'm told):
"Well, yes (holding my wine glass high as if to toast) and no I'm not really enjoying meeting everyone (nodding my head towards the womans room group)...I feel like Julia Roberts in that movie trailer when she stands up in the middle of some meeting and yells, "Who here hasn't slept with my husband?"...but I can't, because he isn't my husband." With that said I ordered yet another glass of wine, excused myself and went outside to smoke.
My not-yet husband followed me outside and wanted to know what had gotten into me besides the wine. I tried to explain what had happened, but I don't think at the time he really got it; he seemed more concerned with the impression I had left with his friends. The rest of the night is somewhat of a blur.
The next morning when I begrudgingly explained what had prompted the outburst he just laughed...louder...and LOUDER...and LOUDER! When I asked what was so funny, he said K's face (the wife of the couple), she probably thinks you're crazy!
Maybe she does, I never took the time to ask her. I'm not at all sorry. I said what I said. I meant it. I'm sorry she didn't see the humor in it.
So you see, my mingling skills are lacking somewhat. It doesn't help that my husband reminds me of this episode between the car and the front door of every social event...he still doesn't get it.
I'm getting better...I think...I'll let you know.