Sunday, November 29, 2009


Dread. Filled with dread.


Deep breaths.

That’s not it either.

Here it is:

Small talk questions are not interesting, and everybody knows they are not interesting, but we don’t know what else to ask because small talk questions are the convention. Saying to someone, upon first meeting him, “What’s your favorite color?” is not really an interesting question in the broad landscape of interesting questions, but it would at least be different. “What do you do?” is the standard line, and for a lot of people I know, it’s the least interesting thing about us, but it’s how we are defined as Americans. Career. Now, I have the baby to talk about, but your own baby is really only interesting to you, which is as it should be. It’s of interest to other parents, but people without kids must be in misery, listening to parents yammer on about their spawn. It is misery. I remember. You have to act interested, smile, and hold eye contact, while not betraying your internal feelings; “frickin’ breeders and your snot-nosed brats.”

Tonight was daddywhumpus’ 20th high school reunion. After days of socializing, little sleep, and yet another cold (accompanied by a crushing headache), I didn’t know if I could handle it. I had to beg off of an earlier gathering due to pain and exhaustion, and Finn and I had a nap. Which left me more tired than I had been.

Social situations are not natural for me, and they are not something that energize me. I have to work myself up to them, and constantly keep myself in check. The little floating me, who tells me that I sound stupid, shouldn’t have said that, blah blah blah is always there, and she will remain through the next day, questioning, worrying, and being generally critical of the previous evening’s performance. I want people to like me, but I don’t really expect them to.

See, I am insecure, and I fear change and new situations. I am constantly afraid that I will make a mistake and appear foolish. For the most part, I am used to this, and I don’t worry that I am missing out. Pete helps me to do new things and not be so worried (I actually flew in a helicopter), but I am just fine with letting someone else take the lead when I am unfamiliar with the territory. I’ll only wield total control in areas where I am comfortable. My control freakiness does not extend to new things.

High School Reunions should be studied by sociologists, and they probably have been. In this case, it was a herd of almost 40-year-old white people, hugging the bar in a long, triangular room, while a sad DJ spun tunes on the edge of an empty dance floor. One of Pete’s good friends, with whom I was rather taken, said that he had the urge to just jump out there and go totally solo. It would be the talk of the reunion. He figured that it was more likely that a fight would break out than dancing. As it turns out, the alcohol tipping point was hit at about 10:15, and dancing did erupt. Of course, a bunch of people hit the dance floor for The Violent Femmes; probably the same people who called me and my friends “fags” and “freaks” for listening to The Violent Femmes. But you can’t play most of the mainstream ‘80’s music that the popular kids listened to at a reunion, because who really wants to admit that they listened to Mr. Mister? Nope, they all want to believe that they always loved The Cure and the Violent Femmes, Depeche Mode and The Smiths, but really, they didn’t. They want to be able to say that the soundtrack to Gross Pointe Blank is their soundtrack, but they are wrong.

Smile and nod, smile and nod.

That’s what I do at these things. It was not my reunion, but everyone knew Pete. He’s a nice, sociable guy. I filled out my nametag as “Pete McCauley’s wife” and only reluctantly wrote “Karen” on it as an after thought. When people asked me about the boy, I told them he was in the car and went off on a short riff about that. They always laughed. I was drinking Coke and then water up until shortly before I left, so I had my wits about me, and my little floating me was quite sober enough to mostly keep me in check.

I had a dozen things I wanted to write down while we were there, and I would have been quite happy to sit at one of the tables and scribble down pithy judgments regarding strangers, but that would not have reflected well upon Pete, and reflecting well upon Pete was my sole purpose at this function.

It’s also really weird to know that some of these people have been reading this (Hi, Pete’s classmates!), and they already know quite a but about me.

The internets. Where my little floating me has less control.

You should see my private blog.

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