yesterday i went to a christmas party that should convince me either (i can't decide which) that i spend too much time on my own or that i should not bother doing anything else.
the party was nice enough--a bright + intelligent host whom i like, good food, a healthy mix of age groups--the guests consisting of equal parts the host's neighbors, fellow employees or (like me) ex-fellow employees, + fellow bicycling enthusiasts.
the problem was that i went to the party with a friend + so i couldn't leave when i wanted to, so my stay was about three or four times too long. we were among the first guests to arrive + the last to leave. the most agonizing part of the party for me was the first three-quarters of it, during which i ineptly attempted to chitchat with strangers ("how do you know the host?" "isn't this picadillo tasty?")
at the end, the party was just me, my ride, the host + one other person--a small group happy to discuss u.s. politics rather than engage in small talk--for me, the party's last hour was the most enjoyable part of the party.
now, although i enjoy parties (went to two this weekend) + hardly lead a hermit's life style, i do spend a great amount of time alone ... or, at work, in a classroom where i am able to create the environment in my own image.
my people skills are weak--more particularly, i'm a complete idiot at small talk, shmoozing, or the kind of offhand flirtatiousness that comes effortlessly to most people.
at 54, i have a fairly strong sense of myself. i am not particularly eager to be liked by a wide array of people i'm not already interested in. as i get older, the kinds of people i'm interested in are people, like me, who live self-designed lives. i have virtually zero interest in people who try or especially who succeed at living a readymade life--a life striving for normalcy, competing for gold stars, + polishing one's social resume.
having just recently reviewed woolf + forster for my brit lit class, it may be that i yearn to be a part of the bloomsbury group--or some more modern, homoeroticized yet working-class version of bloomsbury. having just ended said class with orwell's classic essay politics + the english language, i yearn for conversation that gives new shape to consciousness + reality, not conversation that draws on cliches or other vague semi-scripted niceties of social intercourse.
i much prefer the trippy conversation induced by absinthe + marijuana to the polite exchange of innocuous anecdotes.
the party yesterday made me wonder if perhaps i think i'm better somehow than all these other people--with their zeal for office gossip + workplace politics, popular sitcoms, + "good restaurants."
i certainly don't think i have any more right to life + happiness than they do.
but i do think that there are a great many people--good people, whom i can admire abstractly--with whom i just have no interest in becoming better acquainted. or, at any rate, i wish more people that i meet at parties would attempt to surprise or even astound me. the kind of chitchat that 90% of party talk consists of, between new acquaintances anyway, is to conversation what muzak is to music.
perhaps one day some entrepreneur will market a device that trades social pleasantries with other similar devices, leaving guests free to stuff their mouths with quiche + alcohol.
maybe it could be called 'dizkuss.'