Social Anxiety & My Mothers 60th Birthday

The bar at the far end, tables on the lawn

The bar at the far end, tables on the lawn

My parents are having a big garden party for my mothers 60th birthday.

There are lights hanging on the trees, caterers and waiters and a bar under the chikoo tree.

While I was decorating the table with flowers under my mother’s watchful eye (They have to be arranged like so: one pink and one white, one pink, one white No double whites or…Disaster!) I got the vague feeling that the bartender was trying to flirt with me. In the most cockeyed fashion.

He introduced himself, and asked me,

“What’s your poison?”

“Sorry?”

“What’s your poison? What do you like to drink?”

I said I wasn’t a big drinker. (I also rather dislike being asked what’s my poison. There’s something about that phrase that slightly irritates me. It’s not a line that should ever be used in real life. It ought to be relegated to the bad 1980’s movies that probably spawned it.)

He then came around later to ask me again.

“Shall I make you a Sex on the Beach? A sleazy sex on the beach?”

No. Don’t be creepy. Fool.

“I don’t know. What’s in it?”

He told me.

“Sure. We’ll see”

I really don’t want a ‘Sleazy Sex on the Beach’. That don’t sound good at all.

Then he started telling me how he studied bar-tending abroad, all the while being more far too helpful with my flower arranging. It was hardly a heavy duty job. (But I have no real complaints about that. It was nice. Unnecessary, but still, nice.)

A little while later I was eating lunch he waved and called from the window

“Hope you are enjoying your lunch.”

“Yes”

I opened my book wider and didn’t look up again. I could be wrong about the flirting. Maybe he was just being friendly.

An impromptu conga line down the lawn

An impromptu conga line down the lawn

My parents have invited about 90 of their friends. I know most of them and they are all lovely people.

That being said, I’m hiding out in my room to escape all the inevitable small talk.

“How are you? What are you doing? Where are you now? Will you come back to Bombay? How long are you here till?”

I understand the necessity of scripted small talk. In fact it’s what I religiously rely on. Sometimes I don’t even wait for responses. I just fire off questions one after another. Sometimes I respond to questions they haven’t yet asked me and before they’ve even had a chance to respond to mine.

“How are you Oh thanks I’m fine.”

I’m just trying to occupy the minutes between breathing in and out.

These social rules are a relief, a gloss over near constant social awkwardness. But it’s exhausting work. I need to take breaks every now and then.

Doing the salsa or something. That's my mother there, blurry in black.

Doing the salsa or something. That’s my mother there, blurry in black.

In a way I actually preferred hosting a party. You’re constantly busy, there’s no time to chat and you have a million things to fiddle with. I need to fiddle. All this socializing with people who are not my friends is giving me some anxiety.

This is my third escape. (I finished a blog post in the second one and published it.)

I can only do this in short bursts or I’ll get caught.

Don’t tell anyone.

I have to go back in now. It’s been too long already.

I have fortified myself with a camera. That should hold me.

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13 thoughts on “Social Anxiety & My Mothers 60th Birthday

  1. ur mums turnin sixty and ur the one moaning like an octogenarian. small talk i grant u is tedious but u had to look at the bigger picture, it was ur mums bday afterall. how u resisted the waiters charms i dont know, that sleezy sex on the beach stuff would have got me out of my speedos in no time at all. personally my chat up lines involve bad jokes , self depreciating humour and lying about the size of my dowrey. sayy happy birthday to mum.

  2. What an orgy. Your mum gives the impression of being a bit dishy. And only sixty.

    I hope your fun didn’t involve anything too compromising.

    This reminds me of a passage in a YA novel about an Indian-American girl, also party-shy, who uses her camera to deflect social awkwardness. It culminates in a nice punchline when a dude who’s convinced her to dance has to ask, incredulously, ‘but is that the Electric Slide?’

  3. my mother is having a revival. she’s been working out and salsa dancing and tango dancing and all sorts. that blurry black dress was very dishy indeed. good genes for me thank goodness.

    My fun was sedate relatively.

    I must confess I don’t get the punch line. Or at least I don’t know what an Electric slide is.

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