I wouldn’t mind so much if I knew I was the only one who feels them but the rest of the world seems to socially flow like soft reeds in a stream, gently caressing the water as it meanders past. I on the other hand am that shaking stick pointing backwards.
I was invited out to dinner at some new acquaintances the other night. There’s potential for friendship. I like this couple. They’re similar in age. We seem to share some values and humour. I arrived with a box of chocolates and some beers.
Should I have brought wine instead of beer? After all I will drink all of these.
Already I felt ill at ease but once inside I felt better.
To my mind the conversation was flowing. I was careful to ask questions and listen intently to the responses. I didn’t talk about myself unless invited to do so and even then kept a tight rein on it so as to not look too self-obssessed. These are tips my wife has given me due to the very many humiliations she has endured at my side.
Damn it I forgot to listen to her again. I’ll nod. Oops, I’ll frown and purse my lips. Got it!
We had some preliminary drinks and laughs on the veranda then went inside to eat. The meal was wonderful and I made sure I complimented the chef. I had a second serving to qualify my endorsement although the truth is my first loading of my plate was sparse as I didn’t want to appear too greedy.
Did I take too much avocado? Oh know it’s not ripe. Now I have to chew through eight pieces of rock.
“Brin the avocado is really unripe so just leave it.”
“No, it’s great!”
Oh no. Why did I answer with my mouth full? Now I’m choking!
I really didn’t want to be choking. There are times in my life when I quite like attention but this wasn’t one of them!
There are bodily functions that refuse to be controlled; for long. Coughing is one of them.
The chef is a nurse and I would imagine that her instincts fired off as she has some 30 years of experience and has probably seen many people choke. I tried to gauge her demeanour but I couldn’t focus because my eyes were now watering. I would imagine she noticed the redness of my face and the fact that I wasn’t breathing whilst all the time appearing to remain attentive to her conversation.
I managed to ward it off until I sensed a pause in the conversation and when the cough did introduce itself its noise resembled the sound a cat makes when squeezed too hard by a loving toddler.
What the hell was that?.
Of course the body takes over at this stage and the innate need to sustain life refuses to give ground to petty social discomforts and could care less about impending embarrassment. A series of feline high-pitched explosions erupted. I frantically leaned to the left and was abruptly reminded of the leg-curl workout I had done that morning as my left hamstring went into violent cramp.
Did I just kick her or was that the table leg?
In more familiar company of course this would never have escalated as I would not have been so concerned about interrupting some cursory story to give a gentle cough followed by “What were you saying mate?”
Maybe the lesson here is to be more one ’s self however there’s danger in that and how far does one go in exposing one’s true self?
In time I recovered and the conversation continued but to my dismay the topic of what had just occurred didn’t present itself. I have witnessed this silent phenomenon before. I’m sure we’ve all heard someone pop off in unfamiliar company. This however accentuates the crime and unbearably focuses the limelight upon the perpetrator. I was asked if I would like a glass of wine now and I said yes.
On the other hand I was elated. This is a common sentiment following a near-death experience.
My host said he enjoys a glass of wine and a beer at the same time. I said “So do I.” and it looked as though we might even get a little tiddly together. Hell, a couple more wines and beers and we might even laugh at my distress earlier. I was encouraged.
Is she limping? Maybe I’m good at this social stuff now. Yes, I just told a joke and it was received really well. If they get to know me more they’ll love me for sure! I’m a great guy. I’ve left it too long to ask her if I kicked her.
“Another beer Brin?”
Probably be best mates. Me, socially inept? HA! Should I ask? Will she see the humour in it?
Then the conversation stopped. No more beers or wine were offered and 3 of us sat at the table saying “Mmmmmmmm. Yes. Ha ha.”
It was all over.
If I get up from the table now my leg will cramp again but I think it’s time to leave!