An Introvert’s Nightmare

Saturday was our ward (congregation) Christmas party.  I really enjoy ward parties (usually) because my kids get to socialize with their friends, I get to socialize with mine, there is usually some form of entertaining entertainment, and, overall?  It is just a nice, free evening out.

So Saturday was our ward Christmas party.  I believe I said that already?  It started out just fine, with us getting there about 10 minutes late (which means about 15 minutes before everyone else (who wasn’t on the planning committee) showed up) (we have a term for it: Mormon Standard Time) (by “we” I mean “Mormons” not “Me and McH”), so I jumped in to help put food out on the serving tables and stuff like that.

It was all very typical Ward Christmas party:  most families were so big they took up an entire table each (my family being no exception), so once the eating started the socializing took a break for a bit; socializing resumed as people table hopped after dutifully eating with their family (except for L~, who ditched us immediately and ate with friends); many children too young to be unsupervised were running around unsupervised, jumping off the stage, breaking ornaments on the Christmas tree, pulling down lights (why are unsupervised children such a huge part of our religious subculture? It drives me insane) (especially since we stupidly picked a table right by the stage, which meant we dined to the dulcet sounds of chaos); and an expected time was had by all.

Then the lady in charge of the whole thing got up on the little stage (oh, we don’t rate the big stage, just those riser thingies) and said for the entertainment portion of the evening they were going to call on ward members to share their talents.  So I was thinking, “Sure, there are always people in every congregation who will volunteer to get up and sing in front of a crowd, maybe get us started singing some carols together.  No biggie.”

But the lady went on to say, “Do you all know lots of Christmas carols?  Do you know the words to lots of Christmas carols?  Okay, remember the numbers on your centerpieces?  We are going to pick numbers out of a bowl, and when we call your number, your entire table has to come up on stage and one of you will pick a slip of paper out of another bowl, and there will be the title of a Christmas carol on it and . . .”

And I grabbed my purse and coat and started looking around for my older children who had wandered off with friends.  My husband wanted to know what I was doing.

Hello?????  LEAVING.  It is not obvious?

He leaned across the table and said, “It’ll be fine.  You’ll be fine. We can do this.”

Huh???  I wanted to ask him when he, Mr. Social Anxiety himself, became Captain Von Freaking Trapp.

Here is the thing:  It’s not that I hate singing.  It’s just that I hate singing in front of people.  Unless I am part of a much, much larger group which will drown out any sound I make.  My husband and children do not constitute such a group.  And?  Actually?  Had they assigned each family a Christmas carol ahead of time so that we could practice (and practice, and practice) and I could get myself mentally ready for such a thing?  I could probably do it.

But to stand up there and just announce that I, along with my family, will be randomly called up to the stage to select a carol . . . it was an introvert’s nightmare.

As it turned out, we didn’t have to sing. Oh, no.  It wasn’t that bad.  Just almost.

No, it turned out to be a game of Christmas carol charades which required that you used the provided props.  You know, a toilet plunger, a colander, a funnel, a really bad wig, and a whitish trash bag.

Aaack!

It’s not that I don’t like having fun.  It’s not that I am not a happy person.  It’s just that I am not a “happy-fun!” person.  “Happy-fun!”, by the way, is an adjective coined by my best friend and I when we were at BYU and doing the week-long training to be Y Group leaders (upperclassmen who help a group of brand-new freshmen get acclimated to campus life).  Utah is full of “happy-fun!” people; and, while it can be a good quality to have (sometimes) it frequently doesn’t seemed to be based much in reality (it’s like they are choosing to act drunk rather than actually being drunk) and is mortifying to the introverts who get sucked into others’ “happy-fun!” black hole.

Which brings me back to Saturday night.  Playing with a toilet plunger and a bad wig on a stage sounds very much to me like a drunk (and potentially pornographic) thing to do.  But we survived it.  It took a little doing, but audience members figured out our song and then we went back to our table to watch the next victims.

Captain Von Trapp once again leaned across the table and said, “Are you okay?  You look really uncomfortable . . . mad.  Or something.”

“It’s called flight or fight,” I explained.  “I tried to flee, and since you wouldn’t go along with that plan the fight response kicked in.  So now I guess I’m angry.”

And I was dead serious.  I wasn’t mad at him.  I wasn’t even mad at the woman running the show.  I was just mad.  Even though it turned out that I didn’t have to sing, my fight or flight had already kicked in and I was mad at the universe for ever creating “happy-fun!” people; and mad that the universe forgot to install some type of sensitivity meter into said “happy-fun!” people that would prevent them from causing undo panic among introverts.

I do not begrudge “happy-fun!” people their happy-funness.  I just wish they’d leave me out of it.  Or at least give me a week’s warning.  Or something.

The fact that I can even go to a Christmas party and socialize with people I’ve only known for about six months and enjoy it without later obsessing over every word I uttered for fear I offended someone is already huge for me.  HUGE.

Incidentally, I had a rather lengthy birth control discussion with one of the ladies who, like me, doesn’t want to use chemical contraceptives or have her or her husband get surgically “fixed”, but, also like me, loathes buying condoms with a passel of kids loudly wondering, “What’s that mom?  What did you just throw in the cart?”  So I clued her in to drugstore.com, where you can get such things at good prices and in bulk quantities so large that they even send you a fishbowl with your order.  Oh, I am. not. kidding.

See????  HUGE progress for this introvert. 

So, in the future, if anybody wants my “talents” to be part of the Christmas party entertainment?  Please give me advanced notice and don’t ask me to touch somebody else’s toilet plunger, okay?  O.K!  And if you truly are interested in my talents rather than cheap entertainment at the expense of my fragile, introverted dignity?  Here you go: 

Ask me to write a script for something;
Ask me to twirl a fire baton or some big ‘ol knives (no comments about my dignity, please);
Ask me WELL IN ADVANCE to sing WITH A GROUP;
Ask me to make a wedding cake (though I don’t know why you’d need that at a Christmas party);
Ask me to make fudge.

There you go.  I think that’s about it.

Tewt the Newt is off to deal with some residual PTSD.

In all honestly, it was a nice Christmas party.  The people who organized it and pulled it all together did a good job and should be commended for their efforts (if not for their ability to induce panic).

10 thoughts on “An Introvert’s Nightmare

  1. BWAHAHAA! I am sitting here about to fall off my chair. I’m not sure which part is funnier- the actual story or the fish bowl of condoms.
    I just want to tell you that I’ve really enjoyed your last few, “lenthy” posts!

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  2. Christina

    Oh. My. Word. If that happened to our family, Hubby and the two olders would be out of there so fast it would be like one of those cartoon blurs with the chairs spinning from the breeze of them going by. They would hate such an activity with every fiber of their being. And I would never get them to attend such a function again. Seriously, it’s kind of sad that extroverts are so very clueless about how a good third of the population feels. But good on you guys for playing along. I think you deserve peppermint brownie points or something.

    and uh, thanks for that other tip thrown in the middle there too… 😉

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  3. I totally feel your pain. That exact scenario happened recently when we went to thise Grease: The Movie sing-a-long event. I was totally fine being in a dark theater amongst a bunch of other people all staring forward (I always sit in the back row and we arrived early to ENSURE this) and not at ME. But then they took a break from the movie watching-and-singingalong to play GAMES. Ack! The games involved being called on to stand in this no-longer-dark theater and SING, a capella, to a random grease song while everyone watched. I told DH point blank that I would absolutely refuse if they chose me but then still sat angry and annoyed and sick to my stomach while I hoped against hope I would not get picked. I was not picked, thankfully. It would have been a bad sight if I had!

    I am glad you made it through unscathed. Yuck to those embarassing “party games”. Happy-fun sucks 😛

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  4. #1. I TOTALLY understand that fight or flight response. You had me laughing so hard- because I would have been exactly the same. I was picturing myself in that situation and could feel the fear (TERROR) and nausea in my gut and the anger beginning to grow, directed at no one in particular, but probably taken out on my hub anyway. I am the opposite of happy-fun people in EVERY way. I do not go for that crap and am quite suspicious of people who do.

    #2. Mormons standing around a party discussing mass-quantity purchases of condoms… BWAAHAHAAYAAAAOOOOOOHAHAHA. Now THAT makes ME happy. There’s some happy-fun I can understand, right there.

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  5. Oh I SO IDENTIFY!!! With the MAD part – and I have never figured out it that it was fight or flight, that makes so much SENSE! Sometimes I get mad in ADVANCE. That is how I feel about happy-fun.

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  6. kathleen

    great post – couldn’t agree more – I would be MAD too, would probably have abandoned my family to the wolves, going for a lovely lonely drive with a book on tape, until the event was over. Impromptu=ambush in my mind; I might even faint, just because my flight/fight response is askew, blood-pressure-wise. As for fire batons & knives, I have some of those in the back of my closet skill set too; prefer slinging either/both (even in sequins) to singing in groups of less than 10 for others. Participation does not always equal fun, as I found after asking a pack of cub scout parents to sing along to a camping parody of the battle hymn of the republic at a pack meeting; never again. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO GRACEFULLY DECLINE AND EXIT. congratulations on the condom convo; you have hit a new milestone. Maybe I will send you that copy of the tenth wife after all…happy ten days until boxing day.

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  7. Oh my goodness, do I ever understand every word of your reaction to the singing thing! I would be absolutely mortified. So many people really don’t get that I am incredibly introverted. I’ve gotten a bit better with having Delaney, as I just *have* to force myself out of my comfort zone a bit, especially now with the move. But really? Totally introverted. I don’t *do* Halloween basically because of it – me, dress up? Um, no. Ack. Makes me a bit nauseous just thinking about your experience with the singing! Sounds like you pulled it all off wonderfully though!

    The condom thing totally cracked me up though!

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  8. My husband would have been the first one out the door if that had been our ward party. I’m an introvert, but he is much worse than me. Singing in front of people…not our thing!

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