Any social gathering is going to be filled with uncertainty. Did I arrive too early? Did I spend enough time talking to the host? Did I say the wrong thing to that one person? Am I eating or drinking too much?
It’s why I’ve limited my socializing to groups I actually know, or want to make an effort to get to know. These are people who usually have already shown some semblance of tolerance for my quirks, so that I’m willing to support their artistic endeavors, or offer my services as muscle if they need things moved or carried.
Not too coincidentally, I will also refuse to associate myself with people who have only shown me tolerance to my face. When my back is turned, or I am not there, and it comes to my attention that someone is speaking ill of me, what am I supposed to do?
I could ask them; awkwardly confronting them and maybe costing me their friendship. I could ignore them and wait for them to catch me in public, so that I could feel free to tell them why I’ve been distancing myself, which is in no way less awkward. Or I could just cut them out of my life entirely, which seems to be the safest choice.
My most recent adventure took me to a gallery showing of a well known Salem artist. If you’ve seen the paintings of a black cat in various Salem locales, you will have seen this artist. Her husband was also featured at this gallery, and I made the journey to the reception because they also allow the use of their shop to the writing group, of which I am now a member.
I feel like I did everything good etiquette requires of me in that situation. I showed up, complimented the art work, helped myself to coffee, and made a few people laugh in the course of conversation. I figure if I make someone laugh, that’s a good impression.
Sometimes I wonder though.