Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Happy Hour Of Dr. Moreau

How well do you know me? Complete this quiz:
1. Which of the following would I least like to do?
       A. sit in a cage with an 8-foot boa constrictor.
       B. drink poison.
       C. be buried alive for six hours.
       D. go to a Happy Hour where I don't know anyone.

The correct answer, of course, is "D", because A, B, and C might not kill me.

"Well, you know me," Gloria said as we drove. "I used to work with all these people. They'll like you."

"Let me try to frame this up for you," I said. "This is the same as me asking me you to play in a basketball league."

"But I can't play basketball," she said, laughing.

"Sure you can," I said.

"I can barely even dribble," she said.

"You'll be fine," I said. "Everyone will like you."

"Oh," she said.

"See what I mean?" I asked.

"It's kind of scary," she said, "but I think I actually do."

I would say that I'm socially inept, but that's not quite true. With people I don't know, it's worse than being inept--it's social mortis.

"We should all get nametags with four lines on them," I said. "We would write down four things that we're interested in or that describe us. I'd put down Rock Band, Hockey, Unicycling, and Uncomfortable."

Gloria laughed.

"I could empty the room in twenty seconds," I said.

I've always been like this. I've always been terribly uncomfortable in situations where I hardly know anyone.

"Look," Gloria said. "I know you'll like Betsy and Tim. They're rock climbers."

"They climb rocks and I have them fall on me," I said. "Not seeing the connection."

"They're interested in fitness, and so are you," she said. "Betsy to rock climbing fitness to unicycling to you."

"Stop using Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon to connect me to human beings," I said.

"We're here," she said. I stopped the car outside a house, a house like any other, except it was full of people I didn't know, and I had to go inside.

After about fifteen minutes of Gloria standing beside me like a paramedic, she said, "How are you doing?"

"My legs are numb," I said. She laughed.

Then I noticed something. A safe something.

"I see a friendly cat," I said. "I'm going to sit on the couch and pet it for the next hour. Go work the room."

I think people eventually sat on the couch. Betsy the rock climber (who was also the host) came over and was quite nice. There was talking.

When we were leaving, Betsy shook my hand and said, "It was nice meeting you. Thank you for coming."

"You have an excellent cat," I said. She thought that was funny.

"See, that wasn't so bad," Gloria said, as we walked out to the car.

"Those are not my people," I said. "Now I fully acknowledge that I have no people, but no matter."

We decided to grab something to eat on the way home.

"I did meet a woman who works out using a Hula Hoop," I said. "She called it 'hooping'. What were the odds that I'd meet somebody who was into even stranger shit than I was?"

"Did you tell her about unicycling?"

"Hell, no," I said.

"See, you should open up more," she said.

"I don't really see any reason to," I said. "It's not like we're banding together to build a bridge over the River Kwai."

"But you're really quite charming," she said. "You didn't seem nervous at all."

"Imagine a man," I said. "Imagine this man, covered in grime, standing at a giant lever, and when he, with incredible effort, turns the giant lever, a long series of enormous, squeaking gears begin to turn slowly."

"I'm guessing you're that man," she said.

"I am," I said. "I should just wear a Cone Of Social Awkwardness around my head, like the dogs who aren't supposed to scratch their faces."

Later, I tried to convince her that the Indians made pickles by cutting cucumbers into strips, salting them, and hanging them to dry like jerky. Good times.

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