In Social Situations

So—the difficulty I have is that I usually feel alienated and uncomfortable whenever I am in social situations. Two or three, an intimate meeting where I am personally invited and it is understood things start and end at prescribed times—that’s no problem for me. It’s parties and bars, after work descending in the elevator with people I’ve never met before (doctor’s offices not so much) there’s a feeling of not knowing what to say. Bookstores are OK but farmer’s markets where you’re expected to make small talk is a situation I stay away from. At yoga is fine—if I arrive there just moments before the class starts, and I unroll my mat next to the wall and when it’s over I don’t linger. I feel awkward when I see people in the grocery store rolling their carts around me, I get pressure in my jaw, it starts to throb. At the most popular coffee shop—the clerk treats me like I’m an outsider because he’s never seen me before. He says where are you from and I want to say the fourth ring of Saturn. But the words are glue in my throat. Then at the post office, people talking to each other like they’re long-lost friends, dawdling in front of their boxes getting in everybody’s way, and they block the doors—no one can get in or get out—and they park in the middle of the lot their left elbow oh-so-casually resting on the window, and they don’t stop talking and they could care less that they are breaking a law and that they are a public nuisance and as they wave goodbye, it isn’t me who lays on the horn impatient as a mosquito.

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