Monday, May 25, 2009

Compare and Contrast

Baby shower.

I'm up in the boonies of Westlake Village. Gated community. Uniform condos.

It's family again.

I drove up with my sister, alternately talking and listening to some old Rollins spokenword albums. I have to keep it mellow, but not overly so, as I cruise the highways, avoiding holiday weekend traffic as best I can.

We arrive.

I shut down.

Shy and awkward, I avoid conversation, avoid eye contact as I desperately try to get through the evening.

There's something to be said about manipulating the groups around you, becoming the center of attention, being the life of the party.

I don't do that with family.

It's not out of respect. It's not because I just want to relax and be myself.

It's the opposite.

I can't relax, I can't act as I normally do. I'm one of two black sheep in my family, of my generation, though the other makes me look like I belong in the Walton family. To relax, to talk, to engage the people around me, requires behaviors and topics that would make my family squirm, would make them look at me and wonder how I happened.

So I bring a book, and I read. Or I hide behind the lense of the camera.

Can't talk, too busy capturing this event in pixels. Sorry.

It's my expected behavior.

This is what happens when you wreck yourself.

... ... ... ...

A gathering on Saturday afternoon shifts to a birthday party Saturday night.

Hole in the wall Mexican restaurant. Amazing food, horrible neighborhood.

I walk in, take a quick survey of the faces. I know none of these people, other than the ones I arrived with. It's a different generation- I'm the youngest person here.

I consider. Drop my eyes, keep to my starting group, or see what I can do.

I slide in next to a man in glasses. I introduce myself immediately to him and those within reaching distance. Handshakes are exchanged. He's a fetish photographer, specializing in stockings. Another man joins us, sits to my left. I vaguely recognize his face, and he jogs my memory by telling me of the small band he's in, that I saw play at a club a few months ago.

My friends are across from me, and one down, talking amongst themselves. I bounce the two guys off each other, and they start competing for my attention. Neither of them are what I would consider playmate material, but this is practice.

Eventually, the musician falls to the wayside. He can't keep my attention, and I'm enjoying the photographer more. The birthday boy comes by to gain introductions, and compliments me on my glasses.

Everyone loves my glasses.

I notice the musician playing games on his phone, and I gently neg him. This gets his attention, and he becomes flustered, defending himself. I haven't offended him, but he's trying so hard to prove himself. I take this and bring my friends into play, tossing him back into the conversation, forcing him to interact.

Whenever he starts being silent, I neg him again. I do this all evening.

The birthday boy keeps coming by and hovering over the back of my chair. I flirt, I touch.

He's not desirable to me at all.

The front door to the restaurant opens, and a man walks in that I know and do not care for.

He sits down with his friends at our end of the table, at the very end. I immediately bring my friends into conversation, bodies tilting towards me. He's at their backs. We're laughing, joking, and the guys on the way down from us are leaning in to hear what we have to say.

The man I did not care for was completely cut off as I drew my friends into conversation with the one person he could have spoken to. He might as well have been at a different table across the restaurant.

An hour later, the door opens again.

I take one look at the man walking in and mouth the two words I know will halt the leader of my friends in her tracks, so she'll know exactly who he is. She nods, and asks if I want to leave.

I don't.

He sits down two seats to my left, on the other side of the musician. The birthday boy comes over and gives him a hug. They're obviously decent friends.

Fortunately for me, after hugging him, the birthday boy's eyes returned to me again. I strike up conversation with him and the musician, while my friends, sitting across from him, interact with themselves.

I've managed, within a few minutes of his entry, to put two people I dislike in one corner and completely cut them off from any interaction with the other party members unless they go through me.

And they won't.

They both know better than that.

One tries to fight for it, tries to get the birthday boy's attention while said birthday boy is standing over my chair, probably looking down my top. Almost as though I wished it aloud, the musician stands up to go to the restroom and the birthday boy sits down in his seat, to my left. On the other side of him is the asshole. When the musician comes back, aw, poor guy, his seat has been taken in a very crowded restaurant. How is he supposed to sit by his friends?

I, with the noblest of intentions, offer my seat.

When the birthday boy offers to let me have the chair he stole, I inform him that I had been planning to sit on his lap, but if he'd rather I wouldn't, I would completely understand and certainly wouldn't hold it against him.

Unless, of course, he wanted me to.

He immediately scoots out his chair and I take a position on his right thigh so he has to look to the right, away from the asshole, in order to talk to me. Also, whenever the asshole did feel the need to talk to the man whose lap I was occupying, I was there, looking down on him, stroking the birthday boy's hair, occasionally leaning foward to talk to the people across the table from us.

After twenty to thirty minutes of this, the asshole gave up. He completely and totally gave up.

It was hysterical, watching him wiggle out from the crowded table and go outside for a smoke that lasted well over forty minutes. I thought he had gone home, he was gone for so long.

By the end of three hours, I had befriended the head of security at one club enough to have some pull, politely rejected the musician's advances without offending him, received the business card/phone number of the photographer for a date in the future (isn't going to happen, but, eh), given the birthday boy my general web info so he could find my public blog (he did that evening, as well as the photographer who I did not give my blog information to), and completely socially cockblocked the two men who arrived who I really did not like.

Only leaving my seat to use the restroom and to sit on the birthday boy's lap.

It wasn't bad.

I suppose, for some people, this is a normal evening. Even toned down.

But I'm not a social creature. I've always been buried in a book. This was my second round at ever trying to do something like this, the first about a month ago. I usually stick to talking to one person- I never, ever try to manage a group.

We learn new things every day.

It's time to adapt.

No comments:

Post a Comment