I know I’ve mentioned before that my parents were hermits when I was growing up, my mom had social anxiety/depression and my dad is an aspie with no fucking clue how to behave with people. This resulted in – among other things – me feeling completely ill-equipped to have guests over. I mean if it’s someone I’m on a very informal basis with (i.e. fucking them) I’m pretty okay, but anything where I have to wear clothes and shit wigs me out. I had no good examples of hosting when I was growing up, and I’ve convinced myself that there’s more to it than offering people food and drinks and making conversation. It feels like there’s some secret, some central thing, that everyone knows but me.
Also, because of my food sensitivities I’ve developed eating habits that some people have found odd, so I’m suuuuuper paranoid about feeding people. I’ve had friends ask for literally like five things in a row that I simply did not have, and gawk at me like I was a circus freak for not having said things (usually the issue is with condiments and beverages, but some people are also stymied that I eat food that is actual food, not beige and packaged in boxes in the freezer).
A few days ago I made plans with Puppy for him to come over tonight. I knew the deadline would make me finally clean up the living room, and I think he was maybe finding it weird that I wouldn’t let him come over here and insisted on going to his place. So yeah. Friday night, make sure the living room is clean, shut the bedroom door so nobody can see what a disaster it is, Puppy time.
But then Puppy asked if his primary partner could come, too. It’s a rule of theirs that when one of them starts dating someone new, the other one meets them, and I already happened to be busy the first three times I was invited to hang out with both of them. I felt that it might look weird if I refused, and I kind of wanted to get it over with, so I said okay. But of course this caused me a certain amount of panic, both because of my hosting phobia and because hanging out with a partner and his partner is a brand new thing for me.
They were going to come over straight from work, which meant feeding them. Arrrrrgh. I asked Puppy if chicken and salad would be okay (that’s something normal people eat, right? I’ve seen it on restaurant menus…). He said his girl doesn’t like salad so she would have just the chicken, but he thought chicken and salad sounded great. I asked if I should get snacky things and he said maybe gummi candies like sour peaches and Swedish berries.
So earlier today I threw some chicken thighs in the slow cooker and bought some packages of gummis – three different kinds, because I didn’t wanna look stingy. When Puppy and his girl arrived and settled in, I asked Puppy if he had any issues with mushrooms, blueberries, or cucumbers – he said he didn’t like mushrooms, so I made his salad without them. I showed him the salad dressing I had (I don’t normally have or use dressing, so this was his lucky day) and he said he’d try it.
His girl appeared to enjoy the plain chicken thighs I gave her (at any rate she ate it) – I even asked if she wanted salt or pepper or anything and she said no. As for Puppy, he bused his own plate when he was finished and I didn’t get a look at it til after everyone had gone. It looked as though he’d picked apart the chicken thighs to make them look eaten without having actually eaten any, and he’d eaten the salad out from under the blueberries.
Also, they barely touched the gummis I laid out. I shelled out almost ten bucks for that shit, and I don’t normally like to keep sweets in the house ’cause I tend to eat them all and then have a sugar crash and be useless for a day or two.
I’d specifically asked about everyone’s preferences every step of the way. If Puppy said yes to blueberries but doesn’t actually like them, that’s his own fucking fault. But I can’t shake the feeling that I failed at the dinner portion of the evening. I’m also mildly pissed at the food wastage. I am poor, yo. I can’t be just throwing chicken and blueberries away. Yes, I know it’s weird that I’m grossed out by eating the leftovers of someone I’ve French kissed, but for some reason I kind of am, and I couldn’t bring myself to finish his leavings. So out they go.
Aside from the dinner debacle, things went…okay, I think? Puppy assured me ahead of time that it was okay to be physically affectionate with him in his girl’s presence – that their only rule about this was that it should never get so extreme that she’s basically being totally ignored. Still, I wanted to make a good impression and figured I should err on the side of not glomming onto Puppy. But then again maybe my reticence made me come off as kind of cold and she’ll have a bad feeling about me…I don’t know. This is too much pressure.
Also, Puppy fell asleep on the couch between his girl and I for a while, leaving us to try to make conversation. The talking flowed fairly smoothly, but I would say that we didn’t really click per se. We were in polite mode.
I offered to throw on a DVD, and asked my guests what they were in the mood for. They said to just put on whatever. I chose Drawn Together, a raunchy cartoon that did not get as many laughs as I might have hoped but I didn’t want to look insecure by jumping up after half an episode and being all “Do you not like this? Should I put on something else? LET ME SHOW YOU ALL THE THINGS!”
Because here’s the thing about my social anxiety – it often feels like I’ve totally forgotten how to act like a human being, and then I get paralyzed with overthinking. Here’s a Louis C.K. routine that actually captures the feeling very, very well – just ignore the marijuana part. Skip ahead to about 1:40 and pretend he’s got social anxiety and is talking about what it’s like to arrive at a party and try to make conversation, or something.
Like…when I’m not feeling anxious, I know how to conduct myself. Body language feels natural and I’m pretty okay at participating in conversation. But around new people or people I want to impress, or in new situations, shit can go kinda funhouse mirror all of a sudden. BEEEEEEEEW. And that’s why I left Drawn Together on til the end – because I didn’t know what else to do and I didn’t wanna look like a weirdo.
In the days leading up to this visit, Puppy kept texting me how much he was looking forward to it – citing several times that he planned on having All the Snuggles. I didn’t text back “How does that even work? I just sandwich you along with your primary partner whom I’ve never even met before? Or are you gunning for a threesome? Wouldn’t either of those things be slightly weird at this juncture?” but I was thinking it.
There was snuggling, though – kind of an alternation between Puppy and Girl, and Puppy and me. I was all weird and stiff with social awkwardness so Puppy was the one initiating most of the cuddles on my side. I couldn’t bring myself to look directly at Girl while cosying up to her bf, but in my peripheral vision it seemed like she wasn’t particularly concerned with it.
When the DVD ended, we all agreed we needed to part company to get sleep for work the next day. Girl asked if she could hug me goodbye, and I said yes. I would imagine they’re going to spend at least some of the rest of their evening discussing me, and it gives me the willies. I still don’t understand what the point is of their “meet each others’ partners” deal – is it meant as friendliness or judgment of worthiness or what? I mean I always figured if I dated a poly dude I’d meet his other partners eventually, and I’m totally up for that – I don’t intend to live in a bubble or anything. But this very formalized, planned-out meeting unnerved me.
On the bright side, the living room looks better than it has in…probably years.