The Professor has all these job functions that I get to go to. Mostly with faculty that I actually took classes from in college. I mingle, I drink the free booze, I be as amusing as only I can be, I laugh, I try not to tell stories that begin with “that reminds me of the time I came to your class after downing a few of the $1 PBR specials at the pizza place”, and – thank god – I leave as soon as it is socially feasible. I’m witty, graceful and much younger than anyone else in the room. The alcohol helps. Especially with the witty. But every single time he comes home and says “Hey! Dr X is having a get-together” or “the department Christmas party is coming up”, or even “Dr Mostly Nice Guy wants to meet us for a drink”, I get this cold feeling deep in my stomach. It’s like he just told me that his parents are coming. To live with us. Until they die. I coach myself through it every time. It goes something like this: “They’ve never actually called you the Whore of Babylon to your face. They’re not going to start tonight. Besides, they like the Professor. So obviously they have good taste. And they seem to like the stuff you cook. At least they eat all of it. So what if you have NOTHING to discuss with any of them? So what if The Professor is the youngest of his crowd because the rest of them are all RETIRED? You like hanging out with your parents, and these people are the same age. Well, they drink more than your parents. And they did a few more drugs when they were younger. But those topics aren’t socially acceptable. Note to self: marijuana usage on campus in the mid-70’s is only considered polite conversation if you’re talking to Dr Laid-Back, alone where no one else can hear you. And if you’re talking to Dr Laid-Back alone, then they’ll all think you’re hitting on him, because you’re 30+ years younger than they are, and you’ll be wearing your black hooker boots, you KNOW you’re going to end up in the black boots because they make you more confident. But all they’ll know is that you’re having some kind of private conversation with *gasp* another man RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR HUSBAND and they’ll probably think you’re being somewhat of a tramp and call you the Whore of Babylon. “They’ve never actually called you the Whore of Babylon to your face…” The thing is, these are really nice people. All of them. But any time I have to go mingle with a group of people that I’m not good friends with, I tense up. The thought of going to a conference or work shop alone is almost paralyzing. But I do go, because I convince myself that it’s good for me. I still remember one time when I switched schools as a teenager, I got myself through the first day with this mantra: “Cool, Calm, Confident. If you believe it, they’ll believe it.” What kind of crap is that? We were all 16 year olds. Otherwise known as The Most Horrible Creatures on Earth.
So this post is my pre-get-together therapy. Tomorrow night, I go to mingle with The Professor’s lunch crowd for a couple of hours. It won’t be bad. A couple of them are only 20 years older than I am. One of them will REALLY like the boots. But only because he’ll want to steal them. And we aren’t anywhere near close enough to share these boots.