There it was. I stared at it for some time as it lay on my office desk. A shimmering gray envelope with my name in pretty writing.*Annabel had sent me an invite to her palatial home. I just knew it. Chewing on the end of my pencil as if it was a totem pole of nuts, I stopped, reminding myself that I wasn’t a squirrel and tried to poke the invite off my desk. Get it over with Minelle! Just open it. You should be happy someone sent you a glam invite I thought, as I contemplated stabbing myself with my letter opener instead.
My instincts were correct, Annabel was having a party in her home a month from now and according to the invite -the evening would simply not be the same without my presence. Uh-huh. Sure. I dialed my good friend and asked if she had received the same request. Indeed she had, and hers penned calligraphy to the ink of: ‘Please do attend, the room will be empty without you.’ I had to hand it to Annabel for being eloquent. I wondered how many versions of the same sentence she had written?
Every single time I went to her soirées, not one person in that room, aside from my friend, was genuinely interested in another person and their lives. It was a room filled with people that were so full of their own hype, they must have convinced themselves that their lives were a reality show. I was inundated with one-sided conversation and had a plethora of cell phones shoved at me with latest photographic renditions tracking the unappealing details of their lives. Really now, is it necessary to Instagram thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and designer duds, naming the brands? It wasn’t just Annabel’s parties that were this comical; there were a lot of intimate gatherings I had recently attended where possibly three things would happen.
1. People see that you’re a new face and tell you all about their lives, I mean everything. I once was subject to hearing about a gynecological prognosis whilst having strawberry trifle. Not fun. No one cared what I did or what I was about but they did care where I lived incase they needed a ride home après.
2. People that knew one another clustered in their little groups while I was left sitting with the condiments or even worse, surrounded by the family pets that seemed to want to randomly lick me.
3. All cell phones out. Snapping photos, duck-lipping** and checking social media feeds. Tip: There ought to be a jar where people drop in their phones and pick them out at the end of the evening.
Why did I go then? Good question. Most of the time I attended to keep a pleading family member or friend company. However, this time, I decided to conduct a social experiment and give it one final attempt to make sure I wasn’t being too hasty with my reluctance to engage with Annabel and her friends. It wasn’t the worst experiment for the sake of social anthropological curiosity; there was always a good dessert.
A month later I found myself at Annabel’s, sitting next to her German Sheppard who was lazily nestled under my barstool, occasionally looking up to lick my ankle. My friend had a family dinner; somehow the hostess didn’t feel the room was that empty without her. I did see one face I recognized, he was the socialite du jour and wore more pink than I ever could have sported. I’d also known him for many years and happily gave him a warm hello. Looking quite distracted he replied: ‘Oh hi, I need to update my facebook status and check-in but everyone keeps saying hello.’ Odd. I was under the assumption that one would want to exercise verbal greetings at a social gathering; perhaps he needed me to text it to him instead.
In a Feng Shui state of mind I moved to the left hoping I could change my luck because the couple in front of me were practically fornicating on the kitchen counter.*** I sat next to woman that proceeded to tell me about herself without my prompting. I learnt that she worked from home, loved the food network, hated her ex husband, had eczema, wanted bigger boobs and one cocktail later, hadn’t had sex in a year. Oh please, I thought to myself. Shut-up. Just shut up. At one point I envisioned cutting off my ears and handing them to a man that had strolled up to us and would not stop talking about how he felt his dog was his grandmother reincarnated, something about how they scratched the same places. Before I could have a mental montage, I excused myself, grabbed my cell phone and bolted to the bathroom only to catch a glimpse of Annabel taking a selfie, duck-lipping against her balcony. Vowing never to do this again, (and praying she wouldn’t topple over) I called my best friend and asked if she was finished with her dinner so that we could go out for a drink.
Dusting off my horrid evening with a much-needed cocktail, I realized how grateful I was for good friends, with insightful opinions, that have the least desire to swim in the mainstream. Friends that understood meaningful conversations are accepted and preferred, that life and the significance of the lives of others matter and are of interest. I repeat, a matter of interest, because if you stop talking guess what? You can listen,**** and there’s a great deal of soulful information that can inspire our lives if we take time out to understand what enriches the lives of others. That’s such a blessing.
My mini lesson: I have learnt that sometimes we cannot choose the company we are forced to encounter but we can choose the company we keep and I liked mine just fine. I should add, a few months later, I received another invitation from Annabel, gently placing it in the rubbish-bin where it was warmly received.
* Name of self-absorbed party thrower has obviously been changed
** Duck-lipping (my term for lips that are jutted out in a trout like fashion). #DontDoIt It’s scary. Just don’t.
*** My male friends would find this to be the perfect seating.
****Beware the preacher at these social gatherings, one that is a self appointed guru and has the attention span of a fruit fly, constantly propagating without remotely listening.