What happens when I get social anxiety is I become hyper aware of everything. What I say, how long it takes the other person to respond, it's almost like being stoned - if that helps you relate. Sometimes I'll be saying a sentence to someone and my brain is so tripped out on the mechanics of socialization that I forget what I'm saying. Which, you know, makes for excellent conversation. NOT.
Every 4th of July Serge's brother Dave and his girlfriend Christine have a huge party in their backyard. HUGE. This ain't their first rodeo in the country, y'all. They moved here from Brooklyn three(ish) years ago. They have three goats, a huge garden, Dave even wins local pie contests. Everyone from everywhere comes to their all day and half the night party, including a bunch of fans of Marah, their band (that's Dave and Christine there with the cigarettes). So, generally speaking, the party is full of an eclectic mix of people, many of whom you don't know. Which can be fun, if you're into that kind of thing. And I'm really trying to be into that kind of thing. I don't want to be an anti-social asshole forever, man. I want my kids to grow up around parties and laughter and fun. Not mom and dad eating dinner in front of the TV.
This year I was determined to socialize, get to know folks and have a good time. Be neighborly and such. Except it's hard to have a good time when you're spending your day trying to keep Hank The Tank filled with formula and a curious toddler from getting head-butted by an annoyed goat. But Serge and I took shifts and were doing our best. We brought over Henry's playpen, his bouncy chair - it looked like a goddamned Babies-R-Us display down at the shade tent under which we'd set up family shop.
Serge is off corralling Violet somewhere and this local guy, a guy who brews the most excellent beer for the Elk Creek Cafe, a joint a few valleys over, pulls up a chair and begins to chat with me. Now, I really like this guy - Serge does too. And I hadn't had a chance to talk to his wife. They met in high school, have been married for twenty years, just a really cool couple.
I'm talking and asking questions and laughing and they're answering and at one point one of them even said "I don't think anyone's ever asked us that question before." I'd asked them if they remember the first moment they saw each other in high school.
There I am, socializing, thinking Hey! I'm doing this! I'm having a great conversation, I'm enjoying myself. I even asked them a question no one has ever asked. These guys are great. See! It's not so bad! Our conversation ends and I head proudly down a little trail that leads down to the river to find Serge and Violet so I can tell Serge what a top-notch, social, woman of the country I am. Within minutes I see them wandering through tall grass, holding hands and talking about the flowers.
My beautiful family, I think. What a great time.
Carrying Henry, I walk toward Serge and Violet, waving. "Mommy! Mommy!" Violet shouts and runs toward me. I smile and grin at Serge as we reach each other. It's almost like a scene out of movie, I think.
Almost, but not quite.
"You have a giant chive stuck in your front teeth." He says.
"WHAT? Tell me you're kidding. I just spent the last hour talking to Tim and his wife and I thought we'd had a great conversation."
"Shame. They were probably just looking at the chive the whole time because girl, you been talkin' some serious chive."
I pull off my sunglasses and bare my teeth at the lenses. Yup. Huge chunk of pepper parked right between my front teeth. Serge calls any food item stuck in teeth a chive. I don't know why. You can have a kernel of corn or a whole cob jammed up there in your choppers and he'll still tell you you've got a chive stuck in your teeth.
"Damn. Here I was thinking I was doing so well, such a fabulous conversationalist and I had a giant pepper chunk there the whole time."
"Talkin' chive." Serge adds.
"Yeah." I sigh. "Talkin' chive."