Archive for phobia

How to Leave a Party in Three Easy Steps: A Guide for the Socially Retarded

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 20, 2008 by Ms. Ex

Years ago, I was invited to a party.  I’m not saying it was the last time, but it might have been.  I don’t remember.  The host was a wonderful friend of my beau at the time and I enjoyed this friend’s company, so I believed I could only enjoy his friends’ company as well.  This beau, I’ll call him P., believed, as I did, that the best social activity involved three, maybe four people at most, and could quickly be ended at a moment’s notice when necessary, by which I mean when we started to panic and became unable to respond politely to conversation.  Did I mention social retardation?  I believe the proper term is anthropophobia.  Well.

The party, unfortunately, was three hours away from home, so we came prepared to stay at this party all night. Yes, all night.  No escape route, no pre-agreed upon means of begging out when, not if, we began freaking out.  The first few folks we met seemed nice enough.  P. and I parted ways, making our way around as guests arrived, being introduced and making brief eye contact before reverting to the floor-stare.  We met occasionally as we circled the second floor apartment, giving a quick, “You okay?” and a restrained nod to each other in passing.  Gradually this gave way to lingering moments wherein one of us would say, “Are you sure?  You don’t look well.”  We took turns sublimating our own mounting panic to console the other.

Frankly, I think we did quite well.  It must have been a full hour into this shindig when our glances over the sea of heads began to acquire a wide-eyed look, the look one might see on the face of the horror movie star when he realizes the meth-fueled axe murderer is in the house.  At this point, we understood that it was time.  Time to find the way out.  But how?  How could we insult this dear friend and escape unnoticed from a second floor apartment in a hugely tall house.  We had backpacks!  A bottle of vodka to contend with!  (A note to those of you who believe that alcohol subdues neurosis – you are mistaken.  There are not enough greyhounds in the world to obliterate the fear that dwells within a true social misfit.  Alcohol can only make escape significantly more challenging, and potentially illegal.)

P. leaned his head towards the bedroom where our cumbersome packs were lying, unaware of their fates, and I followed with relief that he must be feeling like me.  Who were these people?  If I had to listen to one more pseudo-artist whine about the NEA I might start screaming.  Really.  The pretension sunk to the floor, heavy with its own hot breath, steadily building up until we suffocated.  We needed out.  NOW.

Quickly, we ran through the possibilities.  We could just say goodbye to our host and go.  That would be the reasonable thing.  But we were supposed to be staying there, could hardly be that rude to a friend surrendering his bedroom, opening his home to us even while having to perform the tricks of party emcee. And besides, reasonable was not one of our strengths.  We could sneak out, hoping he wouldn’t notice until much later when we would have some time to invent a plausible excuse without exposing our true natures.  But how would we sneak?  The halls and rooms were all filled with the elite of Charlotte, the haute-art and then us.  A couple of hillbilly hippies, laden with back packs.  Back packs of all things!  We might have passed ourselves off as Appalachian Trail hikers gone astray, P. in his overalls, I in my boots.

At the same moment, we noticed the window.  We guessed it looked out over an alley beside the house, and slowly walked over to it to see for sure.  P. raised the heavy window and peered out through the screen-less opening.

“It looks like maybe 30, 40 feet.  I think it’s too far for us to jump.  But there is ivy and stuff growing up the side here…maybe we could climb down?”

I leaned out beside him, “Are you crazy?  We’ll never make it.  But our stuff might.”

We removed the bottle of Bowman’s from his bag, and with only the briefest hesitation, dropped our bags into the darkness.  With a satisfying whap they hit the ground.  At least our stuff was safe, even if we were not.

At this point, there was no turning back.  We emerged into the frippery once again, this time as a united front of anxiety and borderline panic, seeking out our host.  We slunk up to him, telling expressions on our bloodless faces.  His eyes slowly rose from his conversation to take us in:  the crazy leading the inept, and with his face falling he nodded.  “You are leaving.  Thanks for trying.”

We ummed, cleared our throats, and bowed awkwardly to those within earshot, making our way to the stairs.  Once safely in the truck, we sped towards downtown Charlotte, to a nice, orderly hotel room, towels untouched by any people with faces we might have to deal with, neat white tile, and not an artist in sight.