I got the invite from someone who reads my blog.
Should I go?
Who would I go as?
What would I wear?
Could I contain myself from doing something stupid?
Would I choke on a large piece of extremely rare ostrich steak?
Definitely, let's try confident writer on for size.
Something artistic, professional, yet casual that doesn't require ironing.
I don't think that's something that happens twice in a lifetime. At least I hope not.
I'm sure most writers pose trying to perfect their confidence stance in a selfie in front of a stripper pole in their bedroom with their unmade bed in the background. Which is never ever made, unless it's that quarterly phenomenon known as the the changing of the sheets. And quarterly is stretching the truth, if you must know.
As an introvert, I've always struggled in social situations. I can pull off talking to one or two people, but I will totally invest in them and completely neglect the rest of the group. My coping mechanism has always been to pretend to be someone else who fits the situation better. Well, still me, just a tweaked version that fits the situation better. For a conservative crowd, I'd try to dress conservatively, and avoid any conversation about q-tips because I'm liberal. And I think everyone knows that conservatives and liberals have different views on what you should stick in your ears. If I was having a group of moms over I might bake cookies and nod when they explain that they make their kids study the SAT prep book and speak Latin at the dinner table. Even though I don't really like baking or cookies too much. If I'm around derby girls I f *bomb a lot. Which is closest to the real me. I just don't do it around my kids. Unless I'm defending them against a drunk guy on the beach in Morocco who totally cursed first. He was a fucking douchebag! Is douchebag one word or two?
I used to be a Social Chameleon.
But, now I'm done pretending. Except trying to pull off that confident writer thing. I'm still doing that.
I walked into the luncheon, my worst fear of food and combined with a room full of strangers, realized. But, I wanted to meet Sue, the woman who invited me to the writer's group and the author's who were presenting on self publishing. Everyone was very welcoming. I found a table with Sue and another woman, Brenda. Three is my magic number. I can do this. So, we starting chatting and that's when the meeting started. With a writing prompt. I whispered to my table mates, "Do we have to read this out loud? Cause I was going to write bitch but not if I have to share with everyone." Much of the crowd was women over 50, generously so. The answer was of course, yes.
But, I'm going to be the real me. So, I was all like, "fuck it". I'm going to write bitch and anything that comes to mind in painfully embarrassing messy long hand my kids complain about and I'm going to sign my damn name to it. The notebook is recycled every meeting and my words would live on in infamy. Or something like that.
You know how when you're in elementary school and it's almost your turn to read out loud and your heart is pounding and you're not listening to anyone else because you're silently rehearsing? That's what I did, then my phone starting ringing. Then she called my name. Finding my reading glasses in my purse to locate the button to turn it off would have been awkward. So I just let it ring and started into the most fumbling recitation of my own work. The only recitation of my own work because I don't read this shit out loud bitches. I meant that in a worldly womanly tribe where we wear really big earrings and have disks in our bottom lips kinda way.
I fumbled through. It's hard for me to even read my own handwriting and then I got the timing all wrong and tripped on my own words even when I could decipher them. I was so prepared to say bitch loud and proud. But, at the last minute I noticed two small kids in the room and I substituted "bleep" instead. The context was very clear though. No one gasped or judged and best of all I didn't pee myself, inadvertently launch a spit loogie or die.
Now all I had to do was make it through lunch, extort some free legal advice regarding using pictures of the King in my book and just be me. The thing about salad is, generally the more exotic lettuce leaves are hard to fit in your mouth. There's a choice. Cutting or shoving. I'm a shover. It's not delicate or pretty. In chameleon mode I would have gone cutter. But, god damn it, I'm not doing that anymore. I'm a liberal, cookie-hating, cussing, shover.
I'm an Ex-Social Chameleon and these are my confessions.
Signed Marie Loerzel Unprofessional Writer Extraordinaire