Dinner Party!: Or, how I’m really an introvert disguised as an extrovert and bumble it up fantastically.
So last night I went to a big ole dinner party and had lots of fun, reconnected with some acquaintances that I’ve known on and off for many years (holy crap I’m getting old), where I made some awesome social blunders that I fully embrace with embarrassment. (Which, by the way, I do realize cannot even begin to compare to the larger context of a 25 year old pregnant woman getting stoned to death by her own f-ing family in Pakistan or the death of one of my favorite artists and inspiration in literature. Maybe by making fun of myself, I can somehow manage my anger and pain over THAT, because my brain and heart clearly can’t handle that harsh reality at the moment).
So onward to embarrassing myself. It was actually a beautiful farewell and aloha to one of our group, who is packing up all her stuff, moving to another country for 1-2 years, embracing our shared past in discovering where we all came from. There were more people there than any event I’d attended over the years, some familiar faces, some friendly, some strangers, but all collegial. Except maybe I got a little too collegial with one couple that I saw.
Blunder Scenario #1: seriously sweet and loving gay couple--one of whom is a long time member of the group, P, who is funny, liberal, has hilarious FB postings, etc. Standing next to them were myself, an awesome, sassy young woman, M, and a metro type guy who outwardly is a typical alpha male douche, but inside is a softy because he is also a single parent of two girls (which is why I still hang out with him), J. M, J, and I had all gotten “secretly” married—in that we eloped on the sly with no real fanfare, then did the, ‘Surprise everyone! We’re married!’ on social media thing. Well, J is still technically under wraps because he’s having a big ole wedding in a few months with his wife's family who lives far away, but still, it was news to half the people in the room who were congratulating all of us. Anyway all these secret nuptials happened within a few months of each other, which was in it of itself kind of funny and hilarious that we were standing next to each other. So, considering gay marriage is now legal where we live and has been for a time, cue awkward conversation:
Me to P: So! Have you guys gotten secretly married like the three of us?
P (Awkward and slightly annoyed look at his partner): Um, no, not secret, we’ve been “out” for like ages.
Me (realizing lame ass awkward joke did not come across at all): Awesome!
Me (embarrassing walk back to my table). Le sigh. How could he know that I was attempting to come from a loving place—that my father and his partner died of AIDS in the 90s, when “civil unions” let alone “gay marriage” were less likely to happen than hell freezing over…? Yep, not my best moment. Because even though I have this particular tragedy as part of my story, I cannot assume that I know or can make light of another person's story, or that it gives me a free pass to be cool, i'm down with gay people card, or presume to know what it's like to be a gay couple and marginalized in that way. Le sigh, again.
Blunder Scenario #2: An acquaintance, K, who I hadn’t seen for over two years arrived, and I greeted her with a hug. She was one of the people who was ‘surprised’ on facebook by the sudden announcement of the nuptials. Back three years ago, when I was initially separated, we had taken the girls to the beach a few times—she has one daughter about a year younger than my DD1. Over the course of the dinner, she kind of shouted across the table at me, i.e.
K: OMG, did you get married?
Me <laughing>: Yes! So did M & J! We’re the secret married crew!
K<not really smiling or laughing at all>: So how did you meet your husband?
Me<picking up a weird vibe, not sure where direction is heading, so being a bit protective of my privacy>: Oh, through friends of friends.
To lighten the mood, I shared a couple of initial wedding photos that we had gotten from the photographer—and because of the lighting and beautiful day, it looked like an almost fake background—the colors of the sky and beach and ocean are so wonderfully intense.
Me: Seriously, the way they're shot, they look fake!
K: OMG, these pictures look fake!
Me: I know, right! Like, 'sure, sure, you really got married on a beach' <laughing>
K: So how long have you been together? It’s kind of fast huh? <looks across the table at another acquaintance, eyebrows raised>
Me <quizzical>: Oh we’ve been together for a year and a half, he proposed at Christmas and we got married on May 17th. <smiling profusing>
K <serious look on her face>: Well, you know, this time, you better just stick with it. No matter what.
Me (suddenly triggered, wow, did she really just say that? Has she any idea what it’s like to see your 6 lbs dog choked by your husband and thrown across the room, or to see your husband knock around your kids, one not even a year old, swear at them and make them cry so hard they are throwing up, break dishes and destroy your children’s toys? Has she ever experienced death threats leveled at herself and her child? Really? Have I even seen her for the last two years? WTF?? not sure how to respond--smile still frozen on my face, probably due to the beer): <slowly shaking head and still somehow smiling> oh girl, you really, really don’t need to go there.
K (not really registering—I think—what I said, or maybe thinking i'm joking because of the smile?): <smiled back>.
Everyone continued eating, not sure if anyone really heard the exchange anyway—the restaurant was clanging with busboys clearing tables and replenishing the side dishes, bustling with sizzling food cooking on the tables and ringing conversations bouncing around each table--our party was so large, we took up four long tables. When we said our goodbyes, everyone hugged and acted normal so perhaps I’m just reading into it too much.
Conclusion: I emailed P, apologizing for my social blunder. Who knows, maybe he wasn’t offended, but one thing in my ripe old age that I’ve learned is to reach out if you think you’ve done something stupid or offensive, take full responsibility and apologize. Don't make excuses, just say sorry in sincere manner. Maybe I embarrassed myself further by doing so, but at least I can be sure I did my best to show that I hadn't meant to be a complete and utter asshat (thanks @Betty Fokker! Love this term!).
Regarding K, I know this is my trigger/PTSD issue. People who matter, they understand and are supportive. Others, like, K, acquaintances who happen to pass through my orbit but do not linger, will make commentary they think is appropriate because they simply don’t know. So I shouldn’t get upset—her questions/comments were from her perspective. Yes it felt judgy to me, maybe she is judgy or maybe not, but I’m not close enough to her to find out. What I can do is manage my anxiety and recognize that these kinds of questions bring up triggers for me. I wonder what would be a good response to commentary like that. If I figure it out, I’ll write it down.
So--not entirely proud of myself but at the very least, I got to eat a fabulous dinner with friends who do know my story a little bit better, and laughed a lot and hugged a lot and was able to say farewell to our good friend moving across the world. And then I made it home to my husband, who was taking care of the house and who had his own impromptu dinner party last evening, and we were both so happy and relieved to be home after a long day.