Monday, March 7, 2011

Social anxiety isn't necessarily the best of mixers

I’ve been through nearly 18 years of parenting at this point, or 36 years if one were to add all the children’s ages together. There are a few things I’ve accomplished, some I can even say I own, but there are others at which I continually fail. One of these is The Other Mothers or TOM’s. Damn if they don’t scare the shit out of me as much now as when Loren was just a toddler and I’d encounter them at the playground. The TOM’s just seem to get it more than me. They’re better put together. And most of all, unlike me, they don’t seem to feel that the effort of interacting on a small talk basis is grounds for popping a pill or hiding in the car until the park empties out. Personally, I prefer an empty park because I know there will be no itching or hyperventilating on my part…. Just saying.

A couple of nights ago Devon and Cassidy’s school held their annual wine tasting fundraiser. Yes, leave it to the Catholics to get everybody sloshed on Jesus juice and then encourage them to bid on items they neither want nor need. Sure, I’d love a spa weekend but I don’t want to get drunk and enter a bidding war with the TOM’s. But I had bought tickets, contributed money to the class auction baskets and I’d bailed on the event last year and knew it would be noted if I skipped another year.

Armed with my mother as my date I got cleaned up, left my check book in the car and tried to muster up some courage. As we arrived I could feel the small kitty cat prints of anxiety seeping into my lungs and grabbing on to my inner ribcage. My mom heard my breath catch and asked if all was well. I told her I had maybe 30 minutes in me, perhaps less. She was cool with that and so off we went. The closer we got, the louder the music, the more people. And there it was, a room full of well dressed TOM’s with their Significant Others in equally nice garb. Damn if they didn’t all look so freaking happy and fully at ease.

This is usually the point where my GAD fully kicks in, my chest closes and the effort of pasting a smile on face becomes painful. It seems like everybody’s mouths are moving at once and, in my flightier moments, all their hands are fluttering and performing some kind of secret sign language that obviously informs them all that a social buffoon is in their midst. Yes, it is that bad. My mom talked me into picking up our tickets and complimentary wine glasses and entering the gala. Needless to say I made it about 30 feet in, had a horrendously painful conversation where I couldn’t hear TOM and could only blink at the amount of sequins on her dress. Then I did a small circle, pretended to be at ease and then made a beeline for the door with glass still in hand. Once out, I encountered a small handful of other folks, mostly over the age of 85, who couldn’t handle the noise either. I like to fancy us a small and exclusive crowd, but I suspect they were all just old. Once my mom made the rounds and had some wine we headed home to sweetness of silence. A social failure on my part for sure, but not an entirely unexpected one. Next time I think I’ll just stay home and drink wine in silence. That sounds super healthy.


  1. Hey, at least the TOMs can't say you didn't show.

  2. True. But to know this I would actually have to interact with them....