I hate small talk. I hate making it. I hate listening to it. I hate nodding.
But there I was yesterday at Amye’s bridal shower, stuck at a table with aunts and cousins I'd never met. We were the low men on the totem pole (we were sitting under the coat rack) and no one was talking. Not one person. We were a collection of the most stubborn—or socially awkward people—ever.
Having psychically intuited the sucky table thing, I had shot-gunned a beer in the parking lot (thank you, Chuck, for leaving that 6-pack from your camping trip in the trunk). The beer, along with the large glass of wine I slammed upon sitting down, made me uncharacteristically friendly. In honor of my socially adept husband, I said, “Hi, I’m Mrs. Mullet. I am a friend of Amye’s. How do you all know Amye?”
Then I smiled real big. I had given up an entire day with Junior to go to the stupid shower, and I was not going to sit there in uncomfortable silence. I was going to make friends, dammit.
We went around the table like a bunch of kindergartners and when we were done, it sounded like this:
So I kept firing. What did everyone do? Wasn’t Amye going to be a beautiful bride? Wasn’t the salad delicious? Did anyone else’s ass hurt from the chair? Was anyone at the table actually alive?
I bet you didn’t know it, but similar to grieving, there are steps to the I’m-in-bridal-shower-table-hell. They go like this:
I clung to the naïve hope that my table would improve. I also tried to ignore the facial pain that came from smiling at nothing.
I finally accepted that my table would always suck.
I maintained my wine intake. Then I said pedestrian things like, “I think it’s raining” just to hear something other than Amye’s future mother-in-law shout, “Rick-yyyyyy loves his Am-yeeeeee.”
4) Anger and belligerence
I began an internal dialogue mocking people. I found my internal commentary hilarious. I laughed out loud.
I realized the room was spinning.
6) Reliance on friends
I excused myself to the parking lot to drunk dial my enchilada cousin, Lauren. I professed my love when she offered to bring me to her house to sober up.
7) Revisit grief before moving on
I went back inside to say good-bye. I tripped over people at my sucky table as I tried to get my coat off the coat rack, accidentally pulling hair and elbowing breasts. When no one protested, I realized I was, in fact, sitting with zombies (that’s for you, Keely).
So yes, um, even though I had a pounding headache at 3 p.m. because of all the sulfites in the cheap boxed wine, I had a lovely heart-to-heart with Lauren.
Turns out she didn’t want to get her tubes tied after seeing Junior. It was all a big misunderstanding. We laughed. We cried. We ate cold nachos. I could have done without the nail that sliced into my foot as I walked through her house, which she’s in the middle of gutting, but you know what? At least I wasn’t at that table. Although I did miss the look on Amye’s face as she opened her present. No, it wasn’t my vagina. It was a chenille throw and candle set from Restoration Hardware. I do have some class, youse knows.
About me: I'm 42 and added another gherkin to our pickle party of a family. My husband Chuck, our 9-year-old Junior, our 6-year-old Everett, our toddler and I live in a town in Connecticut I affectionately call Mulletville Lite (aka my childhood hometown). My friends call me Nutjob, and they're right. In my husband's spare time he dresses up as a Viking and chases ghosts (and I'm the nutjob?). When I'm not busy working as a graphic designer, I lie in a ball in the corner.