March 14, 2003

Ye think yourselves neurotic, but you know not of what you speak.

I was invited to a party last weekend. For today, actually. Friday. I was invited by an intelligent and witty and beautiful woman. As I was relatively flattered and positively flirting, I neglected to ask her directly about the time of the engagement, the party, the get-together that involves her and her group of friends. Now time falls on Friday, the sun falls on the horizon, and I have realized many things.

  1. This group of friends that I am entering into — I have seen them before, have played Twister with them, and acted out Macbeth with them — is not my original group; moreover, they are not friends I have made myself. They are friends I have met through my roommate, and they are first and foremost her friends, and I am first and foremost her roommate. I feel the outsider in this game, this group, and feel it would be rude to inquire to my roommate, “Pardon me, Miss Benevolent Roommate, at exactly what time will the party that I was vaguely invited to involving your particular group of friends commence?” I’m a leech, a hanger-on, a person trying to pry into something that isn’t, essentially, his.
  2. The aforementioned group of friends that I have had a hand in creating, the first group, are distancing themselves from me; of this I am certain. They go out to dinner, they call several people, but I am not among them. Is this just a slip of the mind, a social faux pas not meant to injure? Or is it an intentional avoidance, an aversion to my company, or, at least, the preference of other company?
  3. My roommate, usually open with information of social gatherings, is mute. Does she not wish for my presence? Does she want to shut me out in respect to her friend, who has said to keep it quiet, secret, small; or because of her own selfish desires, a need to get away from me for a short time — she lives with me, for chrissake, 24 hours a day. I never leave the house. She’s sort of frightened of my omnipresence.
  4. I am omnipresent. How pathetic I must look. I only hang out with my roommate’s friends anymore, as I am relatively comfortable with them, and much more entertained by them. How strange it must be to analyze the activities of your boarding partner and realize, with elementary mathematical deduction, that the only times he’s ever gone from the house, he’s wherever you are.
  5. But: What of Mike? This group is essentially made up of female teaching assistants. Does Mike feel like an outsider as well, a stranger in a strange land, an intruding male presence at a slumber party? Or has he been accepted, assimilated; has it been proven that his company is valuable? Is he a hanger-on, clinging with calm desperation to Lilith, or is he much better at insinuating his membership into this group?
  6. The woman who gave me the invitation in question to the party in question on the date in question: Did I neglect to ask the time, had she not devised a specific beginning, or did she avoid being too specific to be gently and innocuously courteous? She didn’t have to invite me just to be nice. I’d be alright with her telling me about the party and then not inviting me; in fact, I’d be just fine with her saying, “Well, Sean, this party I’m having on Friday — which, by the way, you aren’t invited to — should be pretty fun.” It’s better to know the absolute truth than to have to wonder at the motivations. It’s so much easier to understand when people say No. Why didn’t she just say No?
  7. If I don’t go, I can stay here and retreat to my alternate universes: To video games, to writing. Things are safe in both of these places; people say what they mean. I’m a hero there. If I do go, she could, I don’t know, notice that I’m losing my hair. Did I mention I’m losing my hair? I’m losing my hair. I have a bald spot the size of the lunar module on my head; she couldn’t help but notice if I do go. Also, my chin does this thing where it sheds incessantly after a shower. It sheds skin, you know: Dry skin, chindruff. I used to joke that I was a zombie, already dead — with frigid hands and feet and decomposing skin. Who would want to invite a zombie to their party? Would you invite a zombie to your party? I wouldn’t.
  8. But: I don’t think anyone would pity a zombie, either, so if she asked me to come, she must want me to come, on some level.
  9. But: She’s a pretty nice girl (pretty and nice), nice to most people; maybe she doesn’t discriminate between the living and the walking dead. Maybe she invites everyone.
  10. But: She said to keep it small, so if she says keep it small, and asks me, she must want me to come, on some level.
  11. If I do go, and my other group of friends calls (the first one, the one I had a hand in creating), will they view it as an alienation, a personal slight? If I’m never home, if I keep saying No, won’t they just stop calling? Maybe I’m to blame for not being called. Maybe they think, “That Sean, he’s never home, he never wants to do anything, he has a bald spot and he’s only 23. Let’s not invite him.” I should say No to the party and call one of them.
  12. But: This is a newer group of friends, so wouldn’t a No to them be, in theory, more devastating? Not to them, necessarily, but to my burgeoning relationship with them, specifically the burgeoning relationship with this girl with whom I was positively flirting.
  13. Maybe she’ll read this article, notice that I just used ‘with’ three times in one sentence, and dismiss my writing talents altogether.
  14. Maybe she asked me to the party as part of an elaborate plan, a practical joke; everyone’s in on it, my first group of friends, this new group of friends, my roommate, my mother. They’re waiting for me to show up, figuring I assume that she wanted me to come on some level. But when I knock on the door it’ll open with my own weak force, and all the lights will be out, and I’ll ask if anyone’s there, and nothing will happen until I’m four steps inside the apartment. Then the door will slam behind me and the lights will come up and everybody will start laughing at me, jeering, poking, scraping my chin, rubbing my head, and they’ll laugh me all the way out onto the street and into my car, and I’ll wonder why it was that my mother flew all the way out to the West Coast just to mock me.
  15. Or maybe I should just go.
Article © 2003 by Sean Woznicki