Wednesday, April 25, 2012

24 Hour Non-Party Person

Party messUp to the age of 14 I was well reconciled with my nerdiness. I was the last to be picked for football teams, the cool kids ignored me and the bullies also ignored me by dint of me not being worth the effort to rough up (doing me over would hardly improve their social standing among their peers).

But when I turned 15 life at school irrevocably changed.

I found myself weighed down by the advent of “the party”.

Not the parties I had been used to... jelly, ice cream, someone who would fail a CRB check stuffed into a purple dinosaur costume... but the full-on, adolescent party with no grown-ups present, real alcohol, and the slight possibility of a snog and copping a feel of someone's tits in the cupboard under the stairs. If you were really lucky they’d belong to a girl.

Great. Something else to be miserable about. Another social situation to fail.

Even back then part of me felt that it would actually be more of a blessed relief to not be invited. Sure it would sting. It would smart. But I could indulge myself in a little self-righteous dudgeon at being left out in the cold. And yet, despite myself, part of me was still unreasonably pleased when I was invited.

I think people felt sorry for me. People felt that out of the nerdy no-hopers I was actually pretty alright. And I had a few friends who were on the fringes of the cool group. So I got included by proxy.

I won’t lie. I’d fool myself every time. Lie to myself.

I’d allow myself to fill with a silly wild hope that (a) I would actually relax enough to enjoy myself, that (b) someone would actually talk to me and include me in what was going on and (c) the miracle might occur whereby a girl revealed that despite my geeky exterior she had seen through to the vibrant, molten, burgeoning bard at my core and wanted to kiss me. A proper kiss with tongues and everything. Gaining access to the inner sanctum of a girl’s bra was beyond my wildest imaginings at that point. It was hallowed ground not meant for trespass by an unworthy like me.

What would actually happen is that I would find myself hopelessly outmatched by my peers. I would not dress cool enough. Would not have the confidence to speak properly. Would not be brave enough to give dancing or the slightly risqué party games a go. And I would hang around the edges of the room – or more notably the kitchen – nibbling at the party food and watching the clock for the official finish time of the party when I could at last slink off home and then be assailed with misery and depression for the following week whilst also fantasizing about all the cool things I could have done if I just happened, by some miracle, to be somebody else entirely.

This routine was so established by the third party I attended it could almost be termed a system. Even a coping strategy.

And since those days I have never particularly liked parties or social occasions. Even though now, more often than not, I do actually have a good time every now and then and, God forbid, actually sometimes acquit myself rather well.

The only difference now is that I have learned not to care one way or the other. I get less worried about it beforehand. Give it less thought afterwards. And during... well, during I refuse to pander to whatever is going on. I am me. Take me or leave me. Either way I don’t mind.

I don’t seek out parties... in fact if I never attend another party that’s fine by me... but neither do I live in fear of them either.

I do sometimes wonder though how different my attitude might have been if I’d been one of the cool kids. If I’d got to play spin the bottle with Debbie Rush or Joanne Clemons (the two sirens of my school years).

Or if, just once, I’d dragged myself out of the kitchen and into the wonderfully humid realm of a girl’s bra.


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28 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

Even a hairy ape like me knows that parties aren't the ideal place to sweet-talk a girl into giving you some boob action. All you needed was a bit of advice from a friendly Casanova to get you going. Did you ever try sending a girl a love poem?

Marginalia said...

You must love the IKEA ad!

Martin Lower said...

I could have written this! Two things you learn when you grow older; firstly, the cool kids are only cool in your eyes. Most of them have the same hang-ups as you.
Secondly, if you were a 'nerd' at school, you don't have far to fall. Have you ever bumped into someone from school, and found the quiff and six-pack replaced by a bald head and beer gut? Exactly.
Middle age is not kind to the once 'cool'.....

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: poetry? I wrote nothing but poetry until I was 30 and it never got me any boob action. In fact all it got me was published. Which isn't a bad consolation.

Marginalia: I have honestly never seen it.

Martin: so true. Plus I think the nerds are the ones who grow up to have truly interesting lives that are the envy of cool people everywhere. Unless, of course, they end up working for a local government authority.

Kelloggsville said...

What Martin said, plus if you actually 'got off' everyone just talked about you. It was all no-win/no-win. Hated it, and I was in the cool camp (I think!).

Steve said...

Kelloggsville: oh to have had people talking about me!

libby said...

Kitchen with the food and booze? well as a grown up count me in. As a teenager I pretended to enjoy any party I went to but in reality I never did like them and still don't...forced jollity is seldom fun.

Löst Jimmy said...

Tits in cupboards?
The biker parties I used to attend the boobs were nearly always sans bras...mind you there was a drunk girl on the bus with her equally drunk mate, topless and yet unappetising.
The parties I attended rarely matched expectations, too much posturing, posing and propelling vomit. Give a mug of tea and a packet of digestives now and I'll party like it's 1999 - happily, alone. Hardly rock n roll eh!? Oh!

Steve said...

Libby: maybe teenage parties are a rite of passage as foul as having your head flushed down the toilet?

Löst Jimmy: digestives? Chocolate? Send me an invite and I'll get the next train over.

Suburbia said...

Love that last line!

I think everyone, even the ones that look confident, still worry a little inside about how they come across at parties, the difference being that, past a certain age, you just begin not to care any more!

Steve said...

Suburbia: I wish I'd had the confidence and nonchalence that I have now as a teenager... I'm sure I would have enjoyed puberty a whole lot more!

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

No one ever groped my tits, but I did hone my pool-playing skills. Hey... remember Saj is inviting you to her new house party. Shake it up man!

Steve said...

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden: will we be playing spin the bottle?

Nota Bene said...

OK so when you go to a party these days do you get to 'Coppa feel'? Just askin'

Being Me said...

I seemed to be a magnet for the good kids.... aka the uncool ones, the computer geeks, the squares. I thought it earmarked me as a loser back then. Looking on it now, though, I see clearly it was the pick of the positions (being deemed a 'loser' or 'uncool' or 'undesirable party invitee'). We have more fun, better conversation, more intelligent jokes.

You'd be welcome at one of my parties any day. You'd be the Loser of Honour. You're welcome. ;-P

Being Me said...

p.s. if you weren't already champing at the bit to come along, have you seen my jelly cups? They're 3-tone you know! *fancy*

Trish @ Mums Gone To... said...

The next time you and Karen are invited to a party, I dare you to have a fumble together under the coats in the spare room.

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

As someone who was supposedly part of the in-crowd, I felt all the same anxiety at a party as you did. I think it's just the teenage way.

They do say youth is wasted on the young, and they are not wrong.

Steve said...

Nota Bene: I do. But only the wife's.

Being Me: 3-tone jelly cups, eh? That's quite a handful. I can be there within 48 hours.

Trish: what a great idea. And then I could throw up into someone's shoes as one of my school colleagues once did without any external spillage.

Very Bored in Catalunya: youth and opportunity is wasted on the young. As is good advice, pocket money and family heirlooms.

Steve said...

Being Me: P.S. I initially misread that as 3-ton jelly cups.

Dicky Carter said...

Ah yes, the nerdy no-hoper. I was one them in the 80s and I'm one of those now.

Steve said...

Dicky: if it ain't broke why fix it?

Katriina said...

Did anyone (even the cool kids) honestly have a good time at parties when they were a teenager? I remember cringe-making awkwardness at parties right up until I was almost 18, even when the host and most of the guests were close friends.

Things started to look up when we all discovered Twister and Butterscotch Schnapps.

Steve said...

Katriina: Butterscotch Schnapps? You plainly went to a better class of party than I did...!

John Gray said...

awww bless..... geeks can be cute!
but what would I know?
coughs lightly
( off to watch THE WALKING DEAD---AGAIN!)
i REST MY CASE

Steve said...

John: geeks grow up to be cool. That's my theory. And I can prove it with a 16-point stratagem.

Suzanne said...

Oh my god you sound like a male version of me...

Steve said...

Suzanne: you are the yang to my ying. Or is it the other way around?