I’ve never been good at partying. I spent the first half of my youth terrified of missing parties (skating parties, pizza parties, etc.) and the second half terrified of being judged at them.
I still exhibit some of these behaviors. For example, I taper my germ intake before big life events, and I usually lay low in the days leading up to them. Then, if I’ve successfully avoided all potential contaminants and do manage to attend to the party, I spend the next day kicking myself for the weird things I said or the people I may or may not have offended.
However, there are times I’m able to kick back, cut loose and throw down. And when I do, this is what happens:
The Brunch Plans. This is the first sign my inhibitions are slipping into dangerous territory. My close friends and therapists will know I absolutely loathe making plans with people. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company of others, it’s that I’m a total commitment phobe. Making plans with people has always been scary for me. “What if it’s weird? What if they don’t have fun? What if they say ‘yes,’ we meet up, we have nothing to talk about and so I bring up meth mouth? Again?”
These are the thoughts that haunt my daytime socializing. The problem is that when I drink, I shed my hermit’s cloak and (much to my own horror) morph into something of a social butterfly. It’s incredibly inconvenient. And it usually happens one of two ways:
In some cases, I will engage in a “let’s make plans sometime!” conversation. You’ve seen the kind. When two estranged friends engage in a sloppy heart-to-heart and decide to rekindle an old flame.
“Oh my god, we should totally get drinks sometime. No, seriously. This isn’t just like a drunk thing. Let’s really do it!”
These types of run-ins are usually benign. Drinks + sometime = never. It’s merely a polite way of honoring your former friendship, but recognizing that you’re both now seeing different people.
But then there’s the second, much more serious kind of social butterflying. The “b” word.
As in, “We should totally do brunch tomorrow!”
Unlike “drinks,” “brunch” isn’t a word you can casually throw around. It sticks. It’s basically the promise ring of plan-making. Which means in my case, it is a cry for help. A plea for some handsome, like-minded hermit to swoop in, cancel all my plans and carry me to the nearest pizzeria.
And if my knight does not willingly reveal himself, I move straight to The Prowl.
The Prowl. There’s always one point in the night when I think to myself, “I’m going to bring someone home tonight.” This thought usually falls around 11 p.m. – too early for pizza, too late for good decisions.
My bedroom is basically an I SPY book of red flags. How many can you find? Answers below.
In truth, it’s a very small window of opportunity. I’m generally open to the prospect of coupling for about 15 minutes or so. But then I remember how much I hate sleepovers, and how possessive James gets at night. Which raises yet another concern: the cats. Should I tell him beforehand? Or do I risk a surprise introduction?
He requires full attention.
But of course, this last concern is pointless. My potential mate will undoubtedly know I have cats, as I will have:
A.) Offered this information as part of my introduction,
B.) Asked him to follow Joan on Instagram, or
C.) Made a dark and self-deprecating joke about dying alone in a Slanket.
In the end, I decide it’s not worth the risk of having to take him to his car in the morning. And so I move on to the Irish Exit.
The Irish Exit. If the hour is getting late and no one has promised me pizza, I will make a very quiet, very rude exit. I’m a slippery creature. One minute, I’ll be standing beside you, talking, nodding, smiling – seemingly engaged in conversation, yet secretly hailing an Uber.
It’s a learned skill, really. Finely honed between the ages of 26-28. You see, in my early 20s, I could easily be guilted into staying out past my prime hours. But now, if it’s late and I want to go home, I have no qualms with leaving everything and everyone in the dust.
Which brings us to:
The Sleeping Beauty. When I was little, I was convinced people were spying on me in my bedroom. (An early sign of psychosis? Perhaps.) I always imagined my crush – Bernard from The Santa Clause – was somehow watching me sleep, peering in my window, waiting for the right moment to pounce on my lips. As such, each night, I arranged myself like Sleeping Beauty: hair fanned out around my face, wormy little lips parted in anticipation, hands clutched by my pre-pubescent breasts.
Oddly enough, I revert to this mode when I’m drunk. I no longer think men are waiting to pounce on me in the night, but I do enjoy the occasional Sleeping Beauty treatment. It’s a naughty little treat, sleeping fully clothed and made-up. But I love it. And who knows, maybe Bernard does, too.
I SPY answers: Stuffed sloth, stuffed cat, real cat, cat tree looming over bed and, last but not least, blood-red wall paint — a giant red flag in itself.