Why Cocktail Parties Make Me Run For The Hills

I’m not a shy person. At least not in the traditional sense. I talk too much to be considered shy. My teachers used to move my desk around in middle school because I wouldn’t shut up (though I still got good grades). And by the end of the year, I learned what a 360-kick flip-shove it was from a skateboarding kid; who thought their older sister was pregnant; and what the band-couple wanted to name their first-born child (Alyssa).

I also laugh really loud. And in general, quiet people kind of freak me out. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a shy streak. Specifically, my shyness is directly connected to cocktail parties. Not the awesome ones that your friends throw before weddings, but the ones that are dull, gray and work related.
It stems from my days as a magazine reporter. I used to get sent to all these conferences around the country, held in bland hotel banquet rooms (which is why I refused to be married in one), and comprised solely of bald men wearing suits. I was a 22-year-old female. And I knew no one there.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I was fresh out of college, living way above my means in Manhattan, and knew how to appreciate free booze and appetizers when I saw them. But I loathed standing in a room of thousands and having absolutely no one to talk to.
It would get so bad that I used to call my now-husband on my cell phone just so I could look busy while I was drinking my free beer (I didn’t drink wine in those days either, so a girl holding a beer just added to my freakishness).
Flash forward about a decade and now I’m being asked to join author societies. These are wonderful groups that support writers, provide resources, and in general attempt to create a welcoming community for a bunch of professionals who usually work alone. So last year, I joined SCBWI (http://www.scbwi.org/). I dabbled in the message boards, applied for one grant, but in general I didn’t really utilize what the group had to offer.
Namely, I didn’t attend a single event. Not one. And the Eastern PA chapter is rather active. And that big conference they have in NYC—I didn’t go. I’d like to say it was because of the cost or because I was swamped with work, but really it was because of the cocktail parties.
Now, I know a lot of writers virtually. We correspond via Twitter or MySpace or blogging groups. But I haven’t met many of them in person. And the idea of walking into this massive hotel full of people in suits and having no one to talk to just brought back too many bad flashbacks.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. I’m shy when I don’t have a “buddy” to hang out with at events.
And now I’ve made the decision to rejoin SCBWI. They have this great new speakers bureau that I found enticing and a new social networking component, and of course I was sent all the information about the NY Conference. It’s in January.
I’ve got four months to decide whether this will be the year I kick my fear of cocktail parties. And I really don’t know. I mean, if I could do this what’s to stop me from killing my own bugs? Or getting a pet spider? Maybe I could talk them into doing a Fear Factor SCBWI edition? It could work.
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One comment on “Why Cocktail Parties Make Me Run For The Hills
  1. Daniela says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your pop culture rant…I don’t get Don Draper and the flight attendant..I’ll tune in for more rants and I’m looking forward to checking out your book series.

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