“Everyone’s alone — or so it seems to me.
They make noises, and think they are talking to each other;
They make faces, and think they understand each other.
And I’m sure they don’t. Is that a delusion?”
T.S. Eliot

 

We’re having a heat wave now. Temperatures in the 90s. Warnings on TV and radio to stay inside if possible and to move slowly if we must go out into the blazing sun. When I open the door to go out, it’s like stepping into an oven. And that experience is similar to what I (as an introvert) feel when I step into a cocktail party. It really does feel like walking into a wall of jaggedy vibes. That’s the first thing that I perceive. The second is the high noise level. People are hollering conversation at each other. All my instincts are hollering at me to get out of there, but I’m determined to carry this through. I plunge into the room.

The magazines and etiquette books (and even my friends and relatives) give advice on how to enter a room. Apparently I should pause in the doorway and allow the other guests to admire my pretty face. Oh dear. I flubbed it. I’m pretty sure that what I had on my face was horror.

 On the right, immediately next to the door, is the open bar, with a bartender who moves with the speed of light. I ask for white wine and get a martini. You can tell them apart by the olive. I smile and keep going.

It doesn’t take long for frenetic interaction with dozens of people to drain my energy. If only I could take a bit of a break – maybe just go outside and recharge in the quiet – then I would be able to stay. But there’s no popping in and out of cocktail parties. Once you leave, you’re gone.

Why do cocktail parties exist? Why would anyone want to bellow conversationally with strangers? Is it for networking? A sort of corporate speed-dating? That may be it. I haven’t been invited for cocktails since I retired. I guess I can learn to live without them.