The writers' group I attend, Trinity Writers' Workshop, recently asked its members for blog posts for the group's website. I figured it would be a fun thing to do since I hadn't written one in a while. Eventually this story will be featured on their blog, but I decided to post it here as well, especially since it's mostly a different audience here. This story was a moment in my life that was just begging to be written down. I hope you enjoy.
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It's fake Thanksgiving, and I’m anxious. Even though the people around me are known and loved, I’m in a crowd. I don’t like crowds. Even at my church’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner. My hands and upper lip sweat profusely, and I struggle to keep hold of my wriggling toddler. My cheeks flush, and I feel hot.
We’re a little later than most of the crowd, so I hunt for a table with enough empty seats for myself and my two girls. My husband is playing Navy as one of his monthly reserve weekends. The Navy is really talented at picking important dates for drill. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, our children’s birthdays. Give me pretty much any important occasion in our family’s life during the year, and there will be drill on that weekend. But I digress.
I spot a table with only two ladies. I don’t recognize these ladies, so I figure they are new to the church. And there’s nothing quite like meeting new people during a mild panic attack, right? So I steer myself and my oldest toward the table, and we introduce ourselves and sit down. Mercifully, seeing one red-faced mom and two small children, someone brings us food instead of having to wait in line. Bless them.
As I cut, doctor, and re-distribute offensive food (in preschool eyes) for my children, I try to engage these ladies in conversation. I ask the older one, “So, what do you do?”
Conversation killer number one. Sweat beads on my forehead. I try the younger one. “What do you do, then?”
Conversation killer number two. My left eye twitches. I start praying. I guess I should have thought of that earlier. God is merciful, though, and sends over Linda (we’ll call her), who knows these ladies and smoothes over the conversation a bit.
“Hi, Linda! How are you?” I say, a little too brightly. As it turns out, Linda’s been sick. I feel bad for her, but her talking about her illness gives me a few moments of respite. I lose track of the conversation about the time that I realize that the rest of the table is staring at me. I think, Were you talking to me?
“I’m sorry, were you talking to me?” The three sets of eyes staring at me like I’d just sprouted an extra arm tell me that when I asked that question in my head less than five seconds earlier, I had actually spoken it aloud. I just asked the same question twice in ten seconds. Conversation killer number three. Smooth.
I am normal! I have social skills! I want to scream it out for the whole world to hear, but I figure I’ve done enough damage for one day.
I decide to cut my losses, and I get out of there as quickly as manners allow. I hope the turkey was good. I don’t really remember.