Sunday, September 19, 2010

Come on, now! Socialize!

When I did the math on how long I'd be alone, daily, after Coyote finally went to school, I did it wrong.  It's 8 hours, not 9 --which explains why my "to do" task-master-list is not being completed.  This incompletion may also be due to the fact that my list is two pages long and not even an army of studmuffins could complete it in a week.  I'm a bitch of boss.

But my point is that I do not see people for most of that time.  Except for Friday's knitting group (I forgot how to knit over the summer hiatus!).  I am apparently much less social than I thought.  And either I've grown to be frightened of people or I've come to realize that the immense energy I exude when around people is terror-based and I've adapted by slapping up a fresh coat of smile on it and ... tada! I look like I love a room full of strangers!  It's magic. 

The bad thing about not being socialized is that I get out of practice.  I forget to ignore and avoid.  I forget my manners.  I forget to suck-in my energy level.  I forget to hide myself, basically.  I forget to pretend I'm someone WAY more together, quiet and proper.  When I'm in practice, I can sort of try to fit in.  This has been a bigger challenge here in Spokane than anywhere else.  Spokane is full of wonderful people.  But it's different.  I seem to get along a little better if I keep at least half of myself covered up in my magic, invisible cloak that the elves gave me.

(this photo is of me, incognito, and Coyote wearing his "night-vision" spy-gear that he found at Goodwill)

The Unitarian neighborhood potluck was right after church today and I thought I'd have time to go home, toss together my now-famous gluten-free clafouti and arrive in time.  I'd convinced myself that this glorified flan recipe only took 20 minutes. 

"Now how much time in the oven?  35 minutes! What that hell?! Nuts-a-roni! You dingleberry!  Your conversion bakes ten minutes MORE than the original recipe.  Not 10 minutes period."   But a clafouti once assembled cannot turn back.  What was I to do?  I showed up at the potluck with my timer ticking, obviously.  The moment I walked in with my timer in my hand, I realized I was going to have to explain myself, and I knew the gig was up.  I knew there was no hiding the spastic lady I really am deep down inside.  I knew there was nothing to do but be myself in all my unacceptable glory.  And so I was.

Gleefully, most people seemed if not amused, then at least well-tolerating.  And I enjoyed meeting lots of "new" people, most of them old, except for one younger wife.  And lucky for me, they seemed glad for some new energy.  Not all people are like this.  I once had a writing professor direct me to get my thyroid checked, she thought my enthusiasm for her class was misplaced.  I discovered that it was misplaced and my thyroid is the picture of health.  At any rate, I enjoyed these people and their interesting lives and no one suggested I get my thyroid checked.

One woman and I were discussing our trips to Belize.  In more obtuse terms, and thoroughly abbreviated, I related this story:

I worked in Mexico with a Belize girl and we thought it would be fun for me to visit her family for a week or so.  We went on vacation together.  Her family was Mayan and had a sugar plantation I checked out.  We ate huge avacado's for every meal.  Her sister-in-law taught me how to make tortillas.  Her brother tattooed me with home made ink and a guitar string. 

And we went to the fair.  When in Rome, do as the Romans, right?  That's how I roll, except in the U.S.  So I let them pick out my clothes to match theirs, imagining that I'd just blend in in her satin, purple and very short dress and very high heels.  Already being a foot taller than anyone in her town, the heels were entirely unnecessary and the dress-on-loan was WAY TOO SHORT considering the length of my legs vs. hers.  When we rode the wooden Ferris wheel, the entire town assembled at the bottom to watch my butt poke through the slats.  Then I danced with a doctor who kept telling me what wonders my dancing with him would do for his reputation because he'd grown up in that town as a total dork and even now that he was back as a doctor he still couldn't live down his dork reputation.  Perhaps, I thought, that's because the problem persists.  But I felt safe with him and he was polite, considering the songs.  Caribbean music is... rather... um... crude.  This dance had a caller calling out the moves and so it was: porno-meets-polka.  "Pop the bunny in the hole to the left.  Pop the bunny in the hole to right.  Swing your partner and now it's three steps back and bury it in the beaver. Keep it there.  Keep it there.  Alright now." 
 
"Hooo-ee!" I said after about three seconds, "I should really take a break!  I'll go get something to drink."
"Yeah," he said, "I better go check on my mom.  I think she wants to dance too."
I strode up to the bar and ordered a water.  A man offered to buy me a beer.  I declined because I was feeling a little disoriented and lost and wanted my full set of faculties just then... not that they did much good.  Another man overheard and offered to buy me a beer too.  I declined, but another man overheard and offered to buy me a beer.  I declined.  And then another man overheard and took matters into his own hands and just bought me a beer.  I declined.  So he poured the beer in to my water.  A few to a couple hundred other men overheard this and also poured beer into this "super-tall white-girl's" cup.  But then my cup overflowed, so they pressed in on me and poured beer all over my head, my shoulders, my arms, my hands. They were almost like a host of anointing angels, except the exact opposite.
 
And just when I realized that the situation was completely out of hand and looking extremely dangerous, someone yanked on my arm and pulled me out: my friend's brother.  He shoved me into his van and told his wife to keep guard.  Then he rounded up the rest of the family and we went home where the father and the family and I all had a frank discussion and they decided I should leave for my own safety.  I didn't want to head back to my job in Mexico (because I had been threatened with deportation for working without documents), but aimed for Guatemala instead, which they all agreed would be much safer (and it was, for the most part, except for the bus back to Mexico that dropped me off in the middle of the jungle... but that's another story).  I was driven to the bus station and given explicit directions.  I was not to look out the windows and not to make eye-contact with anyone.  Belize, they said, was too screwed up for a single traveling girl. And it was.  It was the most colonialistically screwed up place I've ever been and that includes India and parts of Africa. I actually have many more stories from both that night and my week there, but this is the only one you get today.  If you want more, you'll have to come out here and buy me a beer yourself.  By the way: I'm sure the beaches and hotels of Belize are all fine tourist sanctuaries.

My potluck companion and I marveled at how different her trip was.  And then this other lady of super-stiff demeanor says, "Well G, the difference is probably your personalities.  Yours is so open and honest and hers is... well."

G interrupts, "Oh MY GOD!  WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!  We actually have very similar personalities, more similar than what you'd think." G frantically shut her up and tried to erased her hurtful comment.

But what personality did that lady think I have? And why did she imagine she knew after having been in a room with me for an hour?  Did this have to do with my timer?  But the clafouti turned out awesome!  I drove home, pulled it out of the oven just in time and drove back with a perfectly set clafouti.  Here I was, resigned to being the off-putting crank that I am and the results were just as bad as I feared.  But I can't be too hard on the stiff-lady because that's just the sort of foot-in-mouth accident I'm too familiar with myself.

G and I decided that the difference was 1977 and 1999, married and single, well-worn tourist-accustomed path vs. godforsaken village, and who knows what else?


Sorry there's no photos of this.  There was an accidental viewing of that photo album and I decided it would be safer to put it in to deep storage and I have completely forgotten where that might be.  It's probably for the best that I don't post these internetally.  I might want to get a job some day. 

Anyhoo... these pics ARE of our Saturday amble to the Spokane County Fair where spinning around backwards really fast thankfully did not have much of an affect on the curly fries, root beer float, and cotton candy in my stomach!

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