Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Going Solo

Last night I went to a party by myself.

Flying solo is standard for military wives. There are even times when I feel kind of weird having my husband along for the ride.

Last night's event was a social for parents of second graders. I've known most of these parents for a few years, at least, and I count many of them as friends. But I still spent most of the day yesterday with my stomach in knots trying to think of reasonable excuses not to go. Why?

Because I'm a dork. A great, big, honking dork.

No matter what the social occasion, or how I behaved, I get back home and shake. I repeat the stupid things I said over and over again. I rehash how stupid I must have seemed when I did this. And how lame I must have been when I did that. I never sleep the night after a party. My brain gets all tied up in knots.

I think I have most people fooled though. I told a very good friend today about my social anxieties and he said, "But you're so good in social situations."

Isn't it amazing how we can see ourselves so differently from those who know us? It's like we're all looking into a carnival mirror designed especially for our psyches.

Last night's party was especially surreal because it seemed like everyone was singing my praises. SW even made a little speech (whenever she speaks, it's like a monologue from a Broadway show) about how I was not only wonderful, but modest. I was mortified. Pleased, indeed. But mortified too.

It seemed like everyone was talking about me last night. Everyone told me how great I looked--because I had actually done my hair. Everyone raved over the cheeseballs I brought--because my best gay friend walked me through making them. I didn't even like them. (Patrick, what the heck were those things called, anyway?) Everyone was talking about what a fabulous job I had done with the parents' association fundraiser. But, you know, all I had done was trudge through it all. My co-chair and I had made mistake after mistake. We just kept fixing our botches as we went.

Patrick says I was Bree Van De Kamp.

And then my husband came home from the school board meeting (Did I mention that he's on the school board?) and told me that everyone was singing my praises.

With him, it's different. He knows what an insecure mess I can be. So with him I can ask, "What exactly did they say?"

With him I'm not afraid of coming off like like a deep sea compliment fisher. "You're my husband. You know that I need to know exactly what they said, in what intonation, and with what body language."

Of course, he's my husband so his answer was a shrugged, "I don't know. It was just all kudos for you."

Mmmmm, Kudos.

So I've been thinking (and writing and re-writing this damn post) all day. It's so amazing how we see ourselves. Sometimes I think I'm pretty awesome. But most of the time I think I am a giant dork. Maybe it's just because I fly solo so often.

But I like piloting this plane.

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