A neighbor we hadn't met came over to introduce herself on Halloween night. I was able to shake her hand, say it was nice to meet her, offer her a seat and a drink, all normal, the way normal people do. I can handle that much interaction with strangers without putting my foot in my mouth. Once she sat, though, and our getting-to-know-each-other officially began, that's when my social skills became a trainwreck.
Within moments of her ass hitting the chair, she asked if we had many trick-or-treaters last year. My response was something like, "We didn't pass out candy last year - we were going to, since it was our first Halloween in the house and all, but I don't like to leave the house much, and I guess picking up candy was just too hard." What. The. Fuck?! Who says shit like that 45 seconds into a conversation with a stranger who lives across the street? She sort of nodded like she understood the crazy coming out of my mouth and mercifully moved onto another topic, which I obviously didn't fuck up too horribly, because I don't remember what it was.
I was thrilled to learn she's a Librarian! A real, live Librarian right across the street from my reading porch. How awesome is that? We chatted for probably half an hour, Jimi joining us mid-way to introduce himself and say hello. I don't think I was too bad after that initial flub, but Jimi insists I shouldn't have referenced "smoking a bowl" when we were talking about things to do when you're floating downriver on a canoe.
A few weeks ago, the weekend of Melinda and Gary's wedding, I went to a housewarming party at the home of some friends. I was brilliant that night! I got like 5 high-fives for funny shit I said, and I replayed those snippets of conversation over and over in my head for the next 3 days, congratulating myself for being brilliant and hilarious. I wanted to tell Jimi about the time we were all talking about the well-known fact that Gingers don't have souls, and someone said, "Well, then what about Ben? Ben's not a Ginger, but he doesn't have a soul" and I was all, "Yeah, but he's Jewish" and the crowd went wild. (Ben high-fived me for that one, for the record, so I totally wasn't being a nazi cunt or anything.) The whole night went that way - someone setting up a punchline that came into my head with perfect timing - that happens to me so rarely!
But that party was full of people who know and love me. They've known me for at least 5 years, and they invite me to things because they enjoy my company, despite my quirks (like how I rarely show up to things I'm invited to). I was comfortable there, completely at ease.
(I'll be honest, though, if Steve hadn't been there, my night probably wouldn't have gone quite as swimmingly. He's like my Jimi surrogate when Jimi's not around - he provides that security and safety that I rely on when I'm not in my home. I feel like he wouldn't let anything bad happen to me - he'd save me from a rapist, or he'd punk out some asshole that was mean to me...not that either of those situations have ever presented themselves, but I feel confident he would defend me and my honor. He's like a big brother I never had but always wanted.)
The Tuesday after the housewarming party, Jimi and I went to Lisa's for dinner. The tentative plan was to order in, catch up (we'd not seen her in over a year!), and then meet up with her fiance' for drinks and fun later.
Before I go further with that, I should give you some background on Lisa and Jimi: The first night I went to Jimi's apartment in Old Louisville, hanging on the wall in the center of his living room were two large pieces of framed art; cut-outs of a beautiful platinum blonde, staged in all different poses, wearing all sorts of costumes - it was Lisa, and the piece is called Paper Dolls. It hangs in our living room today. Then, though, I thought it was proof positive that he had a relationship with this gorgeous woman, and I immediately saw how inadequately I measured up to her in beauty and creativity and all-around awesome. Of course, they weren't a couple - she is what he refers to as his "Sissy". Likewise, he is her "Sissy". They are 3 days apart in age and joke that they are twins. Lisa is deeply involved in all things ART, and Jimi loves all things ART, and on this level they meld and mesh in a way I will never be able to with him.
Obviously, I'm a bit intimidated by her. I didn't realize that's what it was or call it that until after Jimi pointed it out to me on Wednesday, when I sent him an email apologizing for being a drunken slore and drinking half a big bottle of wine and half a beer and eating 2 huge slices of pizza and nearly puking in Lisa's bathroom and then falling asleep at Lisa's kitchen table. His words were, "I told her you're intimidated by her, and that you get a little over-excited and over-indulge, but once you're comfortable with her, you'll norm out." I wanted to argue, but I couldn't. He's so perceptive, that man of mine. I'm terrified that I won't measure up, so I make a fool out of myself to prove it.
I feel like that in most social situations where I'm not well-known and already loved. I feel awkward and not good enough and strange and uninteresting and uncool, and I throw out the very worst of me to try to disprove these thoughts that probably only live in my head until I say or do something to show it to everyone else.
Thank goodness there's something underlying my crazy that doesn't make all people turn and run in the opposite direction; thank goodness there's something there that says "Wait, maybe she's funny sometimes, and maybe she's the sort that would buy a round, and maybe she's pretty smart when we're not talking about a subject that's way over her head, and maybe she's the type who'd be willing to give me a ride to the airport, and maybe she's one of those people who won't notice that I haven't called for two years when I need a shoulder to cry on." I have good qualities, I swear! Maybe they're just not so obvious when you first meet me; maybe that veneer of awkward and strange is just something you just have to look through, like one of those 3-D pictures that you have to stare at for a few seconds before you can see the image.
Is it completely obnoxious to compare my personality to a 3-D picture from the 1990's? "I am so deep and hard to understand." Yeah. Like a fishbowl.