Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Just Get Me A Chair

I have always hated it. Those social gatherings, with all chairs removed, wine and grapes and cheese laid out on long tables, for an afternoon or evening fete.

The notion in standing, strutting, plying, one’s way about the room was that people would mix. But they didn’t. We came from a variance of social strata that cringe from each other and would not even mix if thrown into a high-speed blender. It just wasn’t going to happen.

Now I’m not much good in social situations at the best of times. Especially if most of the people in the room are strangers to me. And furthermore I cannot think on my feet. I have a process. A convoluted internal process that in conversation, takes a relaxed chair-position to execute.

I must, with much diligence, take what is said to me, turn it over, contemplate how meaning and source is to be interpreted and examine a collection of possible comebacks in a search for something light, graceful, humorous, or witty, that won’t sound utterly stupid. I’m slow that way. Very slow.

And further to that, I have not the physical grace to carry a glass of wine, a napkin, a small plate with four grapes, and three cheese chunks around and at the same time think about what to say or do next.

But for some stupid reason, when sitting (with a ledge for my stuff), I manage rather well. Speech comes easier. In a more fluid, self-assured way.

Maybe in my soul there is too much intuition. In the same way that I can walk into the dwelling of two people and know without any external sign that a grand altercation is going on, I can feel the cringe of the social stratification barriers. And so at wine and cheeses, I have more difficulty, than most seeking out conversation with others.

I want the comfort of a chair. Even if I have to hold my stuff on my lap, I am good with a chair. A chair can hide a wrinkled skirt, a run in one’s stocking, a wet coffee stain, one’s insecurity, stupidity, over-thinness, over-thickness, even one’s social stratification. A chair by day is as good as a blanket by night.

But having said that, I am reminded of the silly notion I heard year’s ago about elementary classrooms no longer engaging in playing Musical Chairs. Apparently the lonely soul left at the end of the game without a chair could suffer life-long trauma over the rejection they could feel because of ending up odd-man-out. As comforting as a chair is to me, that is utter silliness.

It is not as bad as the teacher, and for some reason, these teachers are usually men, that stand at the front of the class and say things like “and the earth is _____ miles from the sun“, while pointing at some unfortunate soul who doesn’t know or even have a clue. That kind of crap is what causes lifelong trauma.

Women teachers on the other hand are more likely to say, “Can someone tell me how far the earth is from the sun, if so, please raise your hand.” Good, that is good.

And so I say to Hub, “How did you feel in school when the teacher stuck his finger in your face and said, “the sun is ____ miles from the earth”. Did you not feel too obvious, insecure, shamefaced and so stupid if you did not know the answer.”

“Of course not,” says Hub. “I always knew the answer”

“You did?“ I say, in utter disbelief. “What is the answer?“

Without hesitation, Hub replies, with a sneering snort.

“A great distance, a very great distance.”

That’s one for Hub, but he can think on his feet. I can’t.


Pauline said...

The agony of de feet, eh? Or in this case, being on them without a chair in sight. I know the feeling and so avoid "wine and cheeses" at all costs. (I first typed wind and cheeses and that made me laugh, as that is what most gatherings are - a lot of wind and a little cheese.)

As for thinking on one's feet, I am also a failure. I am no good at "small talk" and much prefer a one on one conversation that involves deep easy chairs and hours of unplanned time. I think you should come for a visit. We would get along just fine!

Roberta S said...

A very accurate turn-of-phrase, Pauline. "wind and cheese". I like that. From past discussions with you, you are so right -- we would get along with our own kind of talk and topics, mighty fine.

Joy Des Jardins said...

I want that chair too Roberta...and the one-on-one chats rather than roaming the room and making small talk. Besides, I really NEED that chair with all the aches and pains I've been dealing with these days.

Roberta S said...

Thanks for the comment, Joy. You will for sure get a chair if you attend any so-called 'fetes' at my place.

joared said...

I recall from my young college years serving on the Women's Council my freshman year. We were having a "mixer" with the boys from their dorm in our small college. I was instructed by our adult adviser to "go forth and 'mingle'." No chairs, no cheese either. In that instance I had license to be much more forward, but isolated 1:1 with a new unknown boy I was much more shy and self-conscious.

Roberta S said...

Hi joared, thanks for visiting. Yeh, the mingle thing, works better in theory than in practice. Your comment assures me that it is not just me who fails to understand how it is 'comfortably' supposed to work when one is so uncomfortable. Sitting adjacent to one in a chair does not create an absolute need to speak the way standing eyeball to eyeball does, and I think herein lies the greater barrier to an intelligent verbal exchange. Mingle, shmingle.