and I am not happy in crowds - unless they are of the literary or knitting variety and, even there, I tend to be cautious. It always astounds me how some people seem to manage to enjoy themselves at big events. They appear to sparkle. They will be surrounded by others. They will be telling the jokes and everyone will be laughing. I will be on the other side of the room, standing by myself and wishing I was somewhere else because I am sure that everyone knows I am not talking to anyone. How do you start a conversation at such a party? What do you say? I have no idea.
"What have you read lately?" "I don't read." or "Did you enjoy your holiday in...." "No." Or what about, "You must be very proud of...." No, we won't go there.
Conversation is a two way thing. If someone asks me something at a party I simply must attend I do try to respond appropriately. That is why it is better to attend events where you know people have common interests. At the literary variety you can talk about books, even books you have not read, "Tell me about it. Did you find it a worthwhile read?" and "What about the way X is shown....?" Plenty of material for a conversation there. It does not always work but it is more likely to work, especially if you are prepared to listen.
At the knitting sort of event it is even easier. People talk about their knitting. They show you what they are doing. They show you the pattern. Serious knitters will talk about designing their own and show you the clever bit of short row shaping or the new stitch they are trying.
I have a now very elderly friend who once spent some time in Libya - before the days of Colonel G. Her husband was posted there. Nan is still a knitter but back then, so she tells me, she was a non-stop knitter. Not being too sure about things in that part of the world she took plenty of knitting with her. When her husband travelled the country she went with him and took her knitting. On one occasion they broke down just outside a small town or large village. She was waiting in the old lorry while the men went to get help. When they returned the lorry had to be towed by local men. One of them indicated she should get out and come with them. When she went to leave the knitting behind it was put firmly into her hands and she was taken into one of the local houses.
Inside there were a number of women sitting and knitting and occasionally chatting to one another. She was given a seat. Her knitting was passed around for inspection. Their knitting was offered to her for inspection. She was offered a cool drink and the late afternoon passed peacefully and comfortably among strangers. Nan refers to it even now as "the Libyan knitting party I went to". I can live with that sort of party.
Yesterday I 'went' to two virtual parties run by blogging friends. They consist of heading over to their blog, seeing who has left comments and then heading off to 'meet' these people. I can handle this sort of party. I can participate or not participate. I can 'meet' people by leaving a short comment or can depart without comment and nobody is any the wiser. I do not have to feel as if I am being trampled on. I do not need to shout to be heard. Nobody worries that I am not holding a glass or not eating food I do not care for. I do not even have to dress up. That is the sort of party I can live with.