New People

I have moved approximately ninety million times.  I have attended fourteen different schools in my endeavours towards scholastic brilliance.  I moved 21 different times in Anchorage, Alaska, each one a new neighborhood, new children, new people.  Alaska is just one of the many states I’ve lived in.  I am very used to new people. 

So why is it that all of a sudden, the prospect of being around new people has me in such a dither? 

Lance, the girls and I are attending a new church.  We decided to also join a small group.  This small group consists of seven couples who meet every Thursday night at one of the homes and we eat, watch a video, do a group discussion and then we break up into two groups -men and women and we pray talk.  We’ve been three times now. 

The first time, I got there 20 minutes before Lance did.  I sat there, one half of a pair and chatted about myself, my kids, my hometown.  Thank God I grew up in Alaska, always a source of interesting chat-fodder.  Then Lance walked through the door and I could breathe as I wasn’t the only “fresh meat”. 

The second time, I decided to start busting out with my own vernacular, my arsenal of quips and colloquials that make up my vocabulary.  In our “prayer” time, I asked if anyone was a knitter.  I got a round of nos and I tried to explain by saying that I was a “knitting tard” and needed some lessons. 

Silence.  Lots of blinking.  I swear I could hear their brains eat my phrase. Did she just say TARD?  Hmmm.

Then in an effort to be a part of the goings on with the other ladies, I addressed a very pregnant and ready to deliver any day lady by pointing at her crotch and saying “I don’t want to be all up in your biz, but is anything going on down there?” (Translation, are you dilated?)

Sigh.  What has happened to me?  Is this what happens to old people?  I’ve had conversations with older people that forget how to talk to new people.  They just sort of randomly list ailments, the price of their latest hearing aid and the fact that they’ve had constipation for the last week and the cost of broccoli has their pocketbooks empty.  They’re just weird.  And suddenly, I can totally relate.  I’m faced with new people, I freeze on saying calm, cool and sophisticated things and bust out with potentially offensive things like “tard” and pointing at the nether regions on a pregnant lady.  (To be fair, it’s going to be all about those nether regions in a couple of weeks, but still.)

Tonight I’m heading to a baby shower for that particular lady.  It’s kind of strange going to a baby shower for someone you’ve only known three weeks, but isn’t that the polite thing to do?  I knew she was registered at Babies ‘R Us, so yesterday I walked in, headed over to the Registry kiosk, and suddenly realized I didn’t know her last name.  I approached the girl sitting at the registry desk, reading a People magazine and said, “Umm, I need to find a registry for a lady but I only know her first name.”

Bored barely out of adolescence lady:  “You don’t know her last name?”

Me, shrugging sheepishly: “Nope. I do know she’s having a girl.”

Young girl:  “Sigh.  Ok, do you know where she lives?”

Me: “…Alabama?”

Young girl:  “Ok, where in Alabama?”

Me:  “This town, or one nearby?”

Young girl:  type type type, sigh, type type type, click click, sigh again, print

I took one look at the registry and opted for a safe bet- a stuffed animal I found on sale for $4.00.  I went home and made a brown hooded towel with a pink and white ribbon.  I feel this is sufficient for a lady whose last name I don’t even know. 

My only fear is, what nonsense will come out of my mouth tonight as we meet at a local sushi restaurant?  Be afraid, ladies.  I have forgotten how to communicate with you.


8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Aunt Melissa on September 29, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Hey, blame it on the Kaufman side of the family. I still “open mouth – insert foot” and now I know it is something I earned – thanks to you !!!.

    Hope the baby shower goes well. You are braver than me; I’d hide at home feigning some fever or something. Thanks for the great laughs though.


  2. I am so awesome around new people. I *think* I’m really funny and charming, but typically I just come across as awkward and outspoken, which I usually only find out later when the new people know me well enough to tell me the truth. Which is HILARIOUS because I am about the most reserved person you will ever meet in person. I just say stupid things when I am nervous, is all.

    But who cares? Be who you are! Life is too short to “try out” different personalities so people will like you, which I HAVE done, by the way.

    I think being real and approachable–like you were–is always the best way to go. Along the way, you’ll attract other down to earth people and repel all the posers who will be too intimidated to be your friend anyway because of all the self-confidence you exude. (Whether you actually are self-confident is irrelevent, I have found…perception is reality you know)

    Anyway, enjoy your small group and keep going! True intimacy takes time, trust, and lots and lots of honest conversation. I bet you were a breath of fresh air–you just didn’t know it.


  3. Posted by Kamryn on September 29, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Newness isn’t easy for me either. It’s usually me and the wives of Jared’s new co-workers, which puts pressure on me because if the wives don’t like me then they’ll tell their husbands who will tell Jared. It’s an awful circle that resembles the “cool” lunch table in 7th grade.

    So while I don’t have any advice for you, I can say you’re not alone 🙂


  4. Posted by candy0108 on September 29, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    I looove new people (if they are in my territory that is…lol)… I think it is much different meeting new people in their setting rather than them in yours… all I can say is if they don’t accept you they are missing out cause YOU ROCK and if I was there they would have been really appaled cause I ask all sorts of questions and would have probley inhanced your slip of the tongue .. TARD whats a TARD…or why are you pointing down there …? Cause I am NOSEY like that.. lol who knows this group of people may become you bff’s our small group start aqward and now it is about impossible to do anything without them.. enjoy love love you wish I was with you. I love baby showers..and she will love the gift I am sure of it..


  5. Hey, at least YOU don’t pee when you laugh, which is a REALLY interesting way to discover who your REAL friends are and who are NOT. It’s also a very effective ice-breaker (as everybody tries to get away from the slowly spreading stain…..hum, is there song or poem in there?) much better than naming where you grew up (which town which month which year?) and what your favorite cereal is. I know when you first meet somebody is the best time to start a relationship on the right foot but I’ve gone thru life left footed so I always need a Shoots & Ladders “do over”. You are funnier and more relaxed & natural than you think, but then again, rarely do you give yourself credit for all the great talents you have. Hum, is that a possible future blog for you?


  6. Posted by Jennifer on September 30, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Just ask them what kind of music they listen to. Then you’ll probably realize the problem is not you…the problem is them. They just aren’t cool enough to hang with you. ha! Seriously…they will love you once they get to know you. They were probably nervous too. So just keep working on them and you’ll find something you have in common that you can all laugh at.


  7. Posted by Karen on October 1, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    I do have to wonder a bit about a baby shower taking place at a sushi restaurant – or is that a new way of trying to induce labor? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who’s socially inept despite traits that would make people think otherwise… I’m the youngest of 10 and still cannot seem to talk to more than one person at a time without bugging out about what everyone’s thinking. I don’t think you’re acting old – I just think you have small children. Who else will give us the REAL answer when we ask how we look?


  8. Posted by soundsliketomatoes on October 2, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Baby shower + sushi restaurant = big city. It’s almost glamorous. If I’d’ve walked in with my Prada bag and matching Prada shoes, I’d have been Sex and the City. Instead, I walked in with my fraying bag I bought for $8.00 at a shoe store and my delapitated brown loafers. Oh well, me+ glamor = not happening ever.


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