So last night I went to a big ole dinner party and had lots of fun, reconnected with some acquaintances that I’ve known on and off for many years (holy crap I’m getting old), where I made some awesome social blunders that I fully embrace with embarrassment. (Which, by the way, I do realize cannot even begin to compare to the larger context of a 25 year old pregnant woman getting stoned to death by her own f-ing family in Pakistan or the death of one of my favorite artists and inspiration in literature. Maybe by making fun of myself, I can somehow manage my anger and pain over THAT, because my brain and heart clearly can’t handle that harsh reality at the moment).
to embarrassing myself. It was actually a beautiful farewell and aloha
to one of our group, who is packing up all her stuff, moving to another
country for 1-2 years, embracing our shared past in discovering where we
all came from. There were more people there than any event I’d
attended over the years, some familiar faces, some friendly, some
strangers, but all collegial. Except maybe I got a little too collegial
with one couple that I saw.
Blunder Scenario #1: seriously sweet
and loving gay couple--one of whom is a long time member of the group,
P, who is funny, liberal, has hilarious FB postings, etc. Standing next
to them were myself, an awesome, sassy young woman, M, and a metro type
guy who outwardly is a typical alpha male douche, but inside is a softy
because he is also a single parent of two girls (which is why I still
hang out with him), J. M, J, and I had all gotten “secretly” married—in
that we eloped on the sly with no real fanfare, then did the, ‘Surprise
everyone! We’re married!’ on social media thing. Well, J is still
technically under wraps because he’s having a big ole wedding in a few
months with his wife's family who lives far away, but still, it was news
to half the people in the room who were congratulating all of us.
Anyway all these secret nuptials happened within a few months of each
other, which was in it of itself kind of funny and hilarious that we
were standing next to each other. So, considering gay marriage is now
legal where we live and has been for a time, cue awkward conversation:
Me to P: So! Have you guys gotten secretly married like the three of us?
P (Awkward and slightly annoyed look at his partner): Um, no, not secret, we’ve been “out” for like ages.
Me (realizing lame ass awkward joke did not come across at all): Awesome!
(embarrassing walk back to my table). Le sigh. How could he know that
I was attempting to come from a loving place—that my father and his
partner died of AIDS in the 90s, when “civil unions” let alone “gay
marriage” were less likely to happen than hell freezing over…? Yep,
not my best moment. Because even though I have this particular tragedy
as part of my story, I cannot assume that I know or can make light of
another person's story, or that it gives me a free pass to be cool, i'm
down with gay people card, or presume to know what it's like to be a
gay couple and marginalized in that way. Le sigh, again.
Scenario #2: An acquaintance, K, who I hadn’t seen for over two years
arrived, and I greeted her with a hug. She was one of the people who
was ‘surprised’ on facebook by the sudden announcement of the nuptials.
Back three years ago, when I was initially separated, we had taken the
girls to the beach a few times—she has one daughter about a year younger
than my DD1. Over the course of the dinner, she kind of shouted across
the table at me, i.e.
K: OMG, did you get married?
Me <laughing>: Yes! So did M & J! We’re the secret married crew!
K<not really smiling or laughing at all>: So how did you meet your husband?
up a weird vibe, not sure where direction is heading, so being a bit
protective of my privacy>: Oh, through friends of friends.
lighten the mood, I shared a couple of initial wedding photos that we
had gotten from the photographer—and because of the lighting and
beautiful day, it looked like an almost fake background—the colors of
the sky and beach and ocean are so wonderfully intense.
Me: Seriously, the way they're shot, they look fake!
K: OMG, these pictures look fake!
Me: I know, right! Like, 'sure, sure, you really got married on a beach' <laughing>
So how long have you been together? It’s kind of fast huh? <looks
across the table at another acquaintance, eyebrows raised>
Me <quizzical>: Oh we’ve been together for a year and a half, he proposed at Christmas and we got married on May 17th. <smiling profusing>
K <serious look on her face>: Well, you know, this time, you better just stick with it. No matter what.
(suddenly triggered, wow, did she really just say that? Has she any
idea what it’s like to see your 6 lbs dog choked by your husband and
thrown across the room, or to see your husband knock around your kids,
one not even a year old, swear at them and make them cry so hard they
are throwing up, break dishes and destroy your children’s toys? Has she
ever experienced death threats leveled at herself and her child?
Really? Have I even seen her for the last two years? WTF?? not sure how to respond--smile still frozen on my face, probably due to the beer):
<slowly shaking head and still somehow smiling> oh girl, you
really, really don’t need to go there.
K (not really registering—I think—what I said, or maybe thinking i'm joking because of the smile?): <smiled back>.
continued eating, not sure if anyone really heard the exchange
anyway—the restaurant was clanging with busboys clearing tables and
replenishing the side dishes, bustling with sizzling food cooking on the
tables and ringing conversations bouncing around each table--our party
was so large, we took up four long tables. When we said our goodbyes,
everyone hugged and acted normal so perhaps I’m just reading into it too
Conclusion: I emailed P, apologizing for my social
blunder. Who knows, maybe he wasn’t offended, but one thing in my ripe
old age that I’ve learned is to reach out if you think you’ve done
something stupid or offensive, take full responsibility and apologize.
Don't make excuses, just say sorry in sincere manner. Maybe I
embarrassed myself further by doing so, but at least I can be sure I did
my best to show that I hadn't meant to be a complete and utter asshat
(thanks @Betty Fokker! Love this term!).
Regarding K, I know this
is my trigger/PTSD issue. People who matter, they understand and are
supportive. Others, like, K, acquaintances who happen to pass through
my orbit but do not linger, will make commentary they think is
appropriate because they simply don’t know. So I shouldn’t get
upset—her questions/comments were from her perspective. Yes it felt
judgy to me, maybe she is judgy or maybe not, but I’m not close enough
to her to find out. What I can do is manage my anxiety and recognize
that these kinds of questions bring up triggers for me. I wonder what
would be a good response to commentary like that. If I figure it out,
I’ll write it down.
So--not entirely proud of myself but at the
very least, I got to eat a fabulous dinner with friends who do know my
story a little bit better, and laughed a lot and hugged a lot and was
able to say farewell to our good friend moving across the world. And
then I made it home to my husband, who was taking care of the house and
who had his own impromptu dinner party last evening, and we were both so
happy and relieved to be home after a long day.