Meanwhile, at The Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous . . .

Let me give you a little background.

One time, my mother opened the front door to let in a guest. My father darted through the house, opened a window in the back, and jumped out. This qualified as a brilliantly successful social situation, because he did not have to talk to the person he didn’t want to talk to.

One time, they brought a fruit salad to a potluck dinner, but they decided to try some new recipe that included a sort of eggy custard. They said it tasted good, but it looked a lot like someone had just thrown up in a bowl and then added a ladle. No one ate it. Rather than own up to being the ones who brought a basin of puke to the potluck, they just abandoned it and slunk away. It was a nice ladle, too.

So that was how I was raised. When in doubt, run, slink, hide, just get away! And then you can go sit in the bathroom for a while by yourself until you feel better, and then maybe have lunch.

One time, my husband and I went to a wake, and I was eight months pregnant. The widow greeted us at the door and, clasped us warmly by the hands and, in hushed tones, thanked us so much for being there with her on this difficult day. So I responded in un-hushed tones, “I just need to find a bathroom!”

Why did I say this? I do not know. For some reason, my brain reads any kind of social interaction as ULTRA EMERGENCY PANIC TIME, and responds by shooing intense spurts of electrons toward the Inappropriate Response Center, and my mouth opens, and the wrong damn thing comes out, but loud.

It’s not always a catastrophe. Sometimes, I find myself in a social situation and I manage to escape unscathed, and only have to eat a few sandwiches before I’m ready to breathe normally again. Here are a few of my recent social triumphs:

While shopping, spotted another mom from school browsing through produce section; shoved past an old lady who looked like she was planning to pay in nickels, scored that red-headed bagger who does not mess around with eye contact, and was able to scoot away and rocket out of there before other mom even noticed me.

Came face-to-face with that guy who is named either Rick or Rich, and I definitely can’t ask which it is, because I already did that a few months ago, and I can’t remember what he said. So I got right out in front of it and shouted, “HEY, how’s Wendy?” Which was a not-inappropriate thing to say. Wendy is his wife. They just got divorced, actually, come to think of it. Or possibly I just feel like they ought to get divorced. Or possibly Wendy is his dog. But she does still exist, and is absolutely affiliated with Rih in some way, so it was totally normal to ask how she was. High five, Rih.

Ordered food at restaurant and was unexpectedly asked to make choice about salad dressing. Answered in appropriate fashion without stammering, freezing up, or laughing inappropriately. Ended up with very unpleasant salad dressing, but still, the waitress didn’t back away looking nervous and come back with a burly manager for back-up.

Went to party; didn’t cry until was in car.

Went to other restaurant. Waitress said, “Enjoy your food!” Was able to prevent self from responding, “You too!” Did say, “Meh heh heh heh!” like a goat for some reason, but oh well.

Got pulled out of line and received next-level pat down from TSA agent because I was very suspiciously sweating and trembling and my eyes were darting around like someone with explosives strapped to him or herself. Was able to persuade a very skeptical Janiqua that this is just how I am when I have to stand next to people, and if anything was going to explode, it was going to be my bladder because I was too shy to ask anyone where the bathroom was. But, I did not fall down.

Call it a victory and pass the fruit salad.

***

Image: Werwin15 via Flickr (Creative Commons)

7 thoughts on “Meanwhile, at The Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous . . .”

  1. So, I am always astounded by the difference in how much different people care about things. My husband used wham, bam thank you ma’am, in a church meeting and when I told him the connotation, he just shrugged. He didn’t know that’s what it meant but was unaffected by this gaffe. I, however, run every awkward stupid thing I’ve done through my head for years. I wish I could just get over it already!

    1. Heh, I said that phrase to my mom once and the connotation had never occurred to me prior to that. Still cringing over that (and many other similar things).

  2. Bladders in pregnancy are not a laughing matter. Everyone should pull over when she gets that look in her eye and insists she needs to find a bathroom.

  3. Did you ever ask your old friend from high school how her mother was doing, to have her suddenly go quiet and remind you that Mommy had died a year ago, and *you had been at the funeral*? I did. Love you, ma’am.

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