Journal – How to be Cool at Parties
I promised to tell you my awkward adventure from Thanksgiving break last week.
It started first thing in the morning. I was on vacation from work, so I slept in, and when I oversleep, my dreams sour. I dreamed I was back in college, and I forgot to wear my shirt! How did I miss that? I tried to play it off like I was just a really confident free-the-nipple nudist type, and pretended I wasn’t bothered by the awkward awareness of those around me. When class ended, I tried to get the fuck out but promptly got lost in the building. The changing corridors and endless room after room was like Hogwarts or a dungeon, except with postmodern decor and architecture. Then a teacher found me and engaged me in a long conversation about an assignment, while both of us tried our hardest to act like I was fully clothed NOTHING WAS ODD HERE.
I woke up feeling like something that got dug out of the mud. I hadn’t had a dream with such bad confidence in ages.
I checked my phone and saw that my nice neighbor, with whom I have a budding and fragile friendship, was having a party today so that everyone could help her put hair in dreads (apparently it’s a very labor intensive and time consuming process). I wanted to go so badly but was really disgustingly sick, with full-on sinus drainage and coughing my way through contagious phlegm walls. I decided it was most polite not to go to her house and spray-sneeze mutant germs on her adorable toddler. Also, she might not appreciate having a disease permanently knotted into her dreads as I worked my dried-snot fingers through her hair strand by strand.
So I sent her a text explaining why I couldn’t come and said I’d pop by real quick just to see the finished result. She never answered, I figured she was busy with her friends. I waited until an hour after the time she’d said the party would be over, put on human clothes, sanitized myself as best I could, and knocked on her door.
She answered the door, silky-haired, not a dreadlock in sight. I stared at her confused, and said, “were you not… um… getting your hair done… today?”
It was her turn to look confused. She sort of turned toward the inside to address someone else and it dawned on me, dodo that I was, that this wasn’t the girl I knew. It was her sister.
I am bad with faces. Really bad with faces. Like, really, clinically bad. I think I’ve got a strain of Asperger’s in me somewhere. I should have known her face. I’ve been to her house two or three times before, she’s been to my house at least once, I’ve seen her drawings, we’re friends on Facebook. I had NO excuse. Granted, her sister looked a bit like her, same hair, similar features, but not similar enough.
I was mortified. There was a stunned moment while the sister realized my mistake, and I realized my mistake, and then she let me in. There may have been additional dialogue where I apologized in embarrassment and explained I was bad with faces, but I can’t remember the exact dialogue, only the trauma ricocheting through my soul. I walked in the door and was immediately faced with six of her family and friends, most of whom were wrist deep in her hair (three hours, five people, and it was only about halfway done, yeesh), all of whom had witnessed my blunder. Gaawwwwd.
Then came a round of introductions, and all I could think was, I am carrying Plague. Everybody here will curse my name in snot and misery in 48 hours. Blah blah name, sister. Blah blah name, other sister. Blah blah name, sister’s boyfriend. Blah blah name, friend and dread expert.
Hello, hello, hi, I say. Nice to meet you oh Jesus so many people where I expected none, howsooncanIleave?
I smiled at the toddler. The toddler smiled at me and presented me with a Barbie hairbrush. I wanted to take it to show her what her hospitable gesture meant to me, but I didn’t want to infect and kill this sweet child, the only person here with whom I actually felt comfortable.
“Well,” I said weakly. “I didn’t expect all these people to be here and I have a cold and I just wanted to see your hair real quick… maybe you could pop by later and show me when it’s done…”
“I can do that,” she said pleasantly, being the paragon of a gracious and polite hostess that she is, as well as twelve times my superior in matters of real life and social niceties and parties and facial recognition.
So I calmly left the house and shut the door. Then I hurried back across the lawn to mine… no. I fled. I ran like the most awkward party moment I’ve encountered in my adult life was nipping hard at my heels. I ran like a fucking deer. I raced to my door, skidded to a stop on the welcome mat, well, not so much skidded to a stop as skidded out entirely. The cheapass $3 welcome mat which I’ve had for ten years, the least welcoming household item I own, which looks like filthy hell and is utterly incapable of meeting any of the expected welcome mat functions, took my momentum as an opportunity to escape with my life in tow. My feet went sideways, and my ass went straight down.
I skinned my big toe and scraped my knee. Grownup injuries are different from kid injuries. When a grownup gets an injury, you can’t just cover that shit with a gentle kiss and a Little Mermaid band-aid. You need three fistfuls of wadded paper towels to mop up the dripping body fluids, and you have to get down on the floor and track yourself through the house to find and scrub out lost droplets and toeprints.
So that’s how I scraped my knee and toe. My adventure was so lame, I was literally lamed by the end of it.
P.S., She didn’t visit but she texted me a selfie and she looks super cute and she doesn’t seem to judge me, so I might still have a small, brittle hope for a future friendship.