Note: The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections wasn’t clear if this one is or isn’t serious. They are not quick to catch onto tongue-in-cheek humor. I was asked to write an introduction clarifying what is the point of  all of this but I won’t.  Spo. 

Valentine’s Day is not a major holiday at La Casa de Spo. We don’t exchange cards or prizes nor do we give each other chocolates and imperial tidbits. We avoid eating out that night as restaurants are crowded with couples who I sense are doing this more out of obligation than romance. This year we are invited to a Valentines Day party. I forget what is the point of the party. I suppose it’s ‘to have a good time’ over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and chit-chat. I cannot remember when we were last invited to any sort of social soiree; I hope I can remember how to do them.  I am somewhat a shy person so party mingling makes me self-conscious.  I am aware of ‘The Spotlight effect’ so I no longer worry that everyone is watching my every move.*  If I don’t make a conscious effort to reach out at parties I will invariably stand in the corner undisturbed by all others. 

I am a wiz at interviewing people so it is easy for me to hide my social phobia behind a series of rehearsed questions. Getting people to talk is better than trying to talk about yourself and I am good at that. My psychiatric super-powers help me override my usual role at parties which is to become invisible within minutes of making an ingress.

I seldom ask people what they do for a living as this is usually of little to no interest. Finding out how someone knows the host(s) is always a good starter question, as is what is their opinion on what they are eating or drinking. Another good question (call it my party trick) is  ‘What’s your story?” This is open-ended enough to see which way the wind will blow.  Most folks respond with their work but this can be manipulated to get them to talk about other areas of their life.  Invariably someone asks me what I do for a living. I usually dodge this with one or two equivocations about my hobbies and recent reads (“And what have you read lately? Anything good?”). Invariably someone insists no really what do I do for a living.  I take a deep breath, I utter the “P” word, and watch. Few people remain neutral in reaction. I watch which of the usual responses will happen: anxiety, anger, horror, or erroneous fascination.  I remember one woman looking like I had just confessed to being a mass-murderer. She turned around promptly left the party.  

I hope two things will happen when I attend a party.

#1: I hope I won’t leave feeling I had acted the fool. It is easy for me to go into The Clown Personae at parties. This ‘works’ but leaves me with the feeling I was being an ass.

#2  I hope to have met some folks I would like to see again.  Apart from the couple who invited us this Friday Someone and I have no friends in town so it would be nice to have some. I make it a point in any gathering to talk to at least three people who are total strangers. 

I admire people who ‘just go’ and natter without worrying about all this rubbish. My way is rawther exhausting.   I suppose if I had more party-practice it would be easier and more enjoyable to do. 

Group of friends alcoholics people at a bar illustration.

*The spotlight effect is the phenomenon in which people tend to believe they are being noticed more than they really are. The reason for the spotlight effect is the innate tendency to forget that although one is the center of one’s own world, one is not the center of anyone else’s. In other words, unless you are doing something outrageous no one is watching you.