THE thing with social functions is the constant assumption that everybody is watching you. And so it goes with a caveat: “Be graceful always,” which otherwise means “Be yourself.”
But the rub is that, more often than not, people are fine until they find themselves in the company of complete strangers, especially to the ones whose idea of formal dinners or, say, an intimate tete-a-tete or what have you are something to survive with sweat on their brows and evasive eyes, if not something to ultimately scoot away from.
Here’s how I survived mine:
Shake it off
I WAS cutting through my rib-eye steak at a formal dinner recently when I accidentally sniffed, and a hard material was sucked from my nostrils into my nasal cavity and got stuck in my throat.
Like milk shooting out of your nose, it was painful, but, with my first thought being to confirm whether someone saw me buckle and harbored on the thought that I choked on booger, it was not as painful as it was uncomfortable.
Nonchalantly, I looked up from my steak only to see that a nice-looking lady was trying hard to be oblivious, the way you might when you are watching a movie with a group and, suddenly, there’s a love-making scene. And, as she gracefully tilted her wine glass to her lips to suppress a wind of laughter while looking at me, I shot her with a withering look, sign language for “Let us keep it as a secret.”
The least you could hold on to is that you are in an occasion where it would be beneath people to let you down and broadcast your situation. But still I couldn’t shake off the idea that somehow eating a booger will be this stranger’s top-of-mind recall when she sees me. I imagined bumping into this lady at a mall, and, as soon as we happen to lock eyes like two convicts complicit in knowing a state secret, she would pretend not to recognize me. Here we would pass each other, but, when I look back, I would catch her looking at my way.
She downed her glass and dabbed her lips with napkin as if to say “I’m done,” and, while still looking at the lady, I gracefully reached for a glass and washed the matter off my throat with wine.
AT social functions, I can’t understand how we overdo it sometimes.
Here they have you shake hands with a stranger: “Hey, Vernon, this is Becky,” then all the while you stand there wondering “What the hell I care?”
When saying good-bye, on the other hand, they wouldn’t let you off the hook without so much ado about nothing. They would tell you to propel their best regards to your mutual friends, whom they claim as their best friends, no matter that they see each other a lot.
This is as far as ladies are concerned; with guys, they are more authentic or probably, more aptly, less disingenuous. Guys understand that we are a hugging people. Once, after enjoying a fancy dinner, I excused myself from the table, and this fella stood up as I flexed off my seat to hug me, patting my back and he whispered to my ear: “So long and see you again, brother.”
In hindsight, it sometimes creeps me out because I hate hugging guys. I hate it when their tits rub against mine.
The emphatic laughter
THE practiced chuckle you do in response to a joke sounds more like “Wa wa wa wa wa,” instead of “Ha ha ha ha ha.”
Here, your host throws a joke onto the table, whereupon you have to fall off your chair going “Wa wa wa wa wa” along with everybody else, you have to shoot champagne out of your nose, you have to convince everybody that you almost cried, then you have to be back to your chair rolling down your sleeves and telling your host, “That, mister, is the funniest thing I have ever heard.”
But, then again, you catch somebody’s scrutinizing eyes, which seem to say that you know that the joke was corny, and you’re both faking it.
A BROKENHEARTED female friend called to invite me to a fancy lunch so that somebody could see her cry. So, while I was breaking bread, she went blah and just blah and “Why are you guys so heartless?” and blah. She whimpered the way you might when you fell off a flight of stairs, perhaps silently hoping I would tell her other friends how devastated she was.
It was apparent there was no way to pacify her; she made gestures of a kind you could reenact in front of your friends and laugh at.
Her tears were profuse, and, while I was in the mood for sullen silence and was quite disappointed with the food because it was bland, I dabbed her tears with a piece of bread, then ate it after.
Vernon Velasco is a staff of the BusinessMirror’s advertising department. The views Velasco expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the BusinessMirror’s.
Image credits: Jimbo Albano