That’s a genuine question. Social situations (at least for me), are like watching cricket: I’ve learned to clap in the right places, but sometime I still haven’t a clue what’s going on. I’m getting better, but I struggle.
Where do people learn to do this stuff? Smiling and breathing and talking, all at the same time. Putting jokes in appropriate places. Making the right noises. The fine head angle between ‘I’m interested’ and ‘I’m a stalker’. Learning how to insert and extricate oneself from human clumps. Remembering to check your teeth for spinach and wait..WAIT before jumping in with your own story about howyouboughttheyoghurtthatdaywhenyouwenttotheshops.
Some folks make it look so easy – they assimilate at parties like a waft of delicious perfume: drifting easily from one delighted nostril to another and creating mexican ripples of appreciation and admiration.
Others are more like faint pongs. Embarrassed, we congregate in corners and wedge ourselves into tiny spaces. We choke on canapes and punchlines. Miss our cues and blurt out secrets. Then spend the rest of the evening, replaying our gaffes in glorious technicolour.
I guess it’s got a lot to do with expectations. Mainly my own. I forget that other people are just well, people. They’re not film stars and this is not an audition. They’re human and they’re flawed and guess what, they have hang-ups too. They don’t need me to entertain them or to apologise or put on a mask. I can be myself and they can be themselves and sometimes that’s messy, but sometimes it’s actually really cool.