Outside of Work

Every once in a while I forget how much I hate parties and I agree to go to one. 

The work party has a function. Working stiffs gather together, adult beverage or two in hand, to say all the things that would be grounds for termination if said on company property. It’s a release to use colorful language, and to commiserate with people who understand your plight…but I see these people more than I see my children, family, or anyone else in my life. That really is enough. I should venture out of my comfort zone. I want a life outside of work.

That desire sends me to a party filled with people I don’t know, with hopes that there will be at least one free spirit to chat with. As soon as I step inside I think: what is the minimum amount of time I must stay to avoid appearing rude? I weave around people and head toward the kitchen. I offer to help with something. This is not because I enjoy domesticity, but it’s a way to avoid being social…the reason I’m here. I’m ushered out of the kitchen with a tray of fruit and cheese, and told to set it on the table, get myself a drink—and stay out of the kitchen. 

As I stand alone in a crowded room wondering how to look casual, confident, or just normal, I realize I’m wearing an invisible straight jacket. My arms are wrapped defensively around my chest, body language warning “do not approach me”. Once aware of the vibe I’m sending out, I drop my arms and they hang limp. Now I just look stupid. I pick up a glass of sparkling wine, sip, switch hands, sip, and realize this is not a good alternative posture. I’m using this beverage as a prop, and to avoid becoming “the drunk chick at that party” I switch to sparkling water. I do not want alcohol consumption to prevent me from driving the long drive home. 

I can’t leave yet, so I make the rounds: 

“Hi…I’m Lydia nice to meet you.” 

“What do you do?” 

“Well, I… ” 

“Ah Linda, let me share an anecdote…” (which will illustrate why your job sucks.) 

“Excuse me.”

“Hi, I’m Lydia”

“Where do you live?”

“Well…”

“That is quite far. Don’t you get bored out there in the middle of nowhere? Excuse me Claudia, I see a friend.”

“Lydia”

“You have children?”

“Yes, well two of my three children just left for college and I’m not sure how I feel about that…”

With that, I hear the exploits of children far superior to any mythical Facebook creation. “But tell me about your children…” 

“Excuse me.”

I find someone to discuss theater with. That conversation has promise, but dies a sudden death when we finish discussing the shows we’ve seen this year. 

I keep moving, and find my way into an area where I can rest my elbows on a counter. It will give me something different to do with my arms. The music here is too loud to allow chit chat without shouting—fine by me. Someone taps me on the shoulder and introduces me as Nadia to a group of old hippies who are talking about a genre of music that I know nothing about—that being anything current… I’m bored. These are not my people.

Honestly, I might rather spend the evening cleaning my toilet than in a room filled with people I don’t know. My desire for a life that is separate from work is eclipsed by my aversion for the awkward social inelegance I bring with me to parties. I see the door…and escape.

_____________________________
September 4, 2016, Daily Prompt: Eclipse~ <a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/eclipse/”>Eclipse</a&gt;

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