Sunday, February 24, 2008

Party Phobia

I'm pretty sure I've alluded to my party phobia here at some point. I'm proud, and amused, to report that I actually managed to get my ass TO a party last Saturday. This is huge doin's for me as I will often optimistically accept an invitation and then bail at the last minute in abject terror. I have been completely prepared to go to parties: fully dressed, make-up to rival my current sexual fantasy, Eddie Izzard, and even a Xanax to calm me down, full directions printed out, phone numbers input to my cell and I have still bailed. I'm talking put on my coat get out in the hallway, lock the door and freak out! (and not in the fun Chic way), go back in and send a million page email of distressed apology to the host or person for whom the party was being thrown explaining what an awesome lame-ass I am. This is followed up by hours, days, weeks of endless guilt and anger at my own cowardice.

It's been a problem.

Last weekend, however, I managed to get a gift and card, get out the door, FIND the place and actually attend a party! Granted I only managed to stay an hour - but for me that's HUGE!

Naturally, because it's me, there's more to the story. And that story will prove that to some degree my party phobia is not simply neuroses, but necessary self-preservation. By the way, party phobia only applies when I am to attend one, giving one is a WHOLE different kettle of fish, barrel of monkeys, ball of wax and so on. This is about attending.

This party was for a friend of mine who was having a big birthday and whose party two years ago was one of the many I have done the above described bailing on. I felt compelled not to do it again. She came to the party I had in October, and this was a big birthday, and most importantly, I couldn't be a coward AGAIN.

I was delighted that I had a vague idea where I was going, even though it was in the West Village. This is thanks to the fact that it was not far from the Red Lion which I could find with my eyes closed I've been there so many times to see the Niagaras. So despite the fact that it was on the West side, where I can get lost without taking a single step, I actually knew where I was heading. Knowing where I was going was a big plus. Hell, the fact that I got to the subway was a big plus! I found the bar where the party was being held with no problem whatsoever. Off to a great start, Joy! You go! I need to note here that I was wearing my contact lenses. These bits of plastic are good purely for social occasions or sex. My vision correction with contacts is never great due to my extreme blindness and astigmatism, the contacts I'm using are two prescriptions old. You do the math.

When I got to the place I saw the birthday girl sitting at a table right in the front window! Hurray! Another note: the only person I really knew who would be at this party was in fact the birthday girl. So I was incredibly relieved to see her in the window like that. I went into the bar/club which is really, really small - very nice, very intimate, wildly DARK. You go through the glass door and then through a velvet curtain - turn a sharp left and there's that front window and my friend. She was talking away, very engaged with chatting with a guy. I stood next to them for a few minutes, waiting for a lull in the conversation. Polite, dontcha know. She looked at me a couple of times but showed no recognition whatsoever. That seemed odd to me until I remembered that the last time I saw her was November and that was before I'd gotten my hair chopped off. Finally she paused, looked at me and said, "Did you want to join us?" "Yes, of course I do, silly!" I said, all merry and cheery, like you do at a party. Or like I imagine you do at a party.

That was when I realized.

It wasn't her.

Oh dear God. WAIT! I knew her cousin would be attending, I haven't met her but there was a family resemblance (remember - blind as a bat in a dark club). "Are you Kate's cousin?!" still as cheery and merry as one could want.

"Uh, no, do I look like her," she said.

"I dunno, I've never met her," I said.

Yeah. Like that.

Then she said that if I was looking for the party it was in the next room.

Welcome to my total, insane embarrassment. Oh. My. GOD.

Luckily Kate was easily visible in a wicked red dress and tiara so I literally ran to her and, naturally, spilled the story. Seems she too had encountered the woman in the window, and thought she was there for her party! Oy.

The rest of the evening was just fine, I mean, the next hour was fine. Then I left and it became clear that all the good luck I'd had finding the place had dissipated. I should know by now that if my instinct is to turn left I should always ignore it and go right. Alas. I walked and walked and smart-assedly made a turn that I was positive would take me where I wanted to go. Uh. Not so much.

I couldn't see a street sign until I was on top of it and when I saw a street name that was familiar to me it was familiar because I used to work near it. When I worked at the South Street Seaport. If you don't know Manhattan, and clearly, I don't, here's a map of my little after-party walk.

In the midst of this, once I realized I was just going the wrong way altogether, I ended up stopping on a street corner waiting for a light and popping those damned contacts out and putting on my glasses. That's something you don't see every day. At least you don't if you're wearing contacts that don't correct your vision. The one thing that was clear was that if I wanted to get home and not live a 2008 version of After Hours I had better grab a cab. So I did.


I'm glad I went. I don't know how the next one will go, whether I'll pull myself together enough to go or bail again, but at least I managed to go to this party - maybe it'll start a trend. Maybe not. Maybe I should get new contacts first. Yeah. That's the plan.


Gary said...

I actually laughed out loud twice while reading this and that's after already hearing the story from you first hand!I can so picture you standing there being all merry and cheerful saying you wanted to join them. (There I go again, another LOL)

I am sure your presence was appreciated. Now, what about that cab ride. Did you speed up the film? You were flying girl.

PS - The map was a nice touch. Good for another LOL.

BetteJo said...

OH anxiety sucks!!! SO BAD!!! And the anxiety itself is always worse than the event. Even though you had that moment *giggle* - it makes for great story telling!

Joy Keaton said...

Gary - ah well, you know the funniest stories are at our own expense. :) About the video, that IS how fast we were going! There was almost no traffic at all!

Bettejo - Oh sure, after the fact it's all good, then I wonder what I was such a wreck about - which is why I'm always optimistically RSVPing YES! ;)

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I'm so proud of you!

Small steps can make the biggest difference.

And that thing with the woman in the window sounds exactly like something I would do. In fact I'm pretty sure I've done something like it.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic. Just fantastic.

Joy Keaton said...

Whim - you know when I told Gary this story that's what he said, "oh everyone has done something like THAT!" I didn't really buy it, but now that the opinion is seconded, I guess I'm not the only one after all! yay! :)

Anonymous - why thank you!

LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

I generally share your party phobia. Ironically, I have no trouble hosting them but hate to attend them. I'm sure it has something to do with my control freak nature. I also hate potluck parties and will bring food but never eat anything.

Joy Keaton said...

JT - isn't it an odd thing? I mean parties - fun, right? For me it's that I'm usually attending solo and usually only know one or two people - my friends are so varied and they rarely run in the same circles so it's a little awkward for me. Hence the party-phobia. of course when it's YOUR party - YOU know everyone so it's great!

WHEN are you coming to NYC so we can have a Valley of the Dolls 'party'?!!!