So, Saturday morning the three of us went to Men's Wearhouse in search of a jacket. The first store didn't have anything quite right, but at the second there was better luck. daernhelm ended up leaving with quite a nice new ensemble. Then the two of them dropped me at the house and went to lunch with daernhelm's brother. I spent a couple of hours relaxing and enjoying the quiet, before getting ready for the dinner party.
We left for the Metro around 4:45, which got us to M's house at 5:45. I felt badly about arriving early for a social event, but we weren't the first guests there. It was, however, about an hour before demongrey and pinkythemoose arrived, as they'd caught traffic on their way down. We suffered through some awkward silence, at first, and then were strongly outnumbered by the strangers at the party. After about half an hour, I realized that this was a group of people just as strange as my own group, and I decided that I was going to go ahead and try to be friendly and social. After all, at very worst, I might annoy half a dozen people I would never see again. This coincided with my first glass of wine, which admittedly helped the process somewhat. Yes, in fact, M did throw a party with alcohol.
Side note: I'm not sure what kind of impression I made, or how they reacted to me. It seemed like all was good, and that I got along reasonably well with everyone, but in the long run there's no way to know. I put on Social Personality #1, which is not quite who I am, but it's not a complete fake either. It's probably not far off from who and what I'd be if I really were a social person. Because of the combination of stressful social situation and alcohol, I'm (now) somewhat worried about my behavior. However, daernhelm and I deconstructed the party on the Metro ride home, and I think he would have mentioned something if I'd been making a complete ass of myself - although you never know, as I might not tell
someone I thought they'd been making an ass of themselves in a situation where it wouldn't matter for the future.
Shortly after demongrey and pinkythemoose finally got there, we went in to dinner. There were eleven of us there, six female and five male, which worked out well for the seating. Let me give the seating arrangement and the cast of characters simultaneously, starting with the quiet side of the table:
In the corner, L. L was very quiet, and I really didn't get much of a sense of her personality. About all I remember about her is that she's a vegetarian.
Next to L was J. I wasn't sure what to make of him at first, but I found that the longer I listened to him, the better I liked him. He was the oldest person at the party, and it turns out he's exactly the same age as blackfog, plus or minus hours. He used quick wit and snappy comebacks a lot.
pinkythemoose was next to J, and directly across the table from me. She was, as always, lovely and charming, if reserved. I'm interested in her impressions of the evening, as she seemed to be observing, much as I usually do.
Beside her was a second M, who I shall call M2 so as not to confuse him with our lovely hostess M. M2 was voted the most normal person at the party, even before things got relaxed. I think either he was a shy person, or just completely out of his league, although daernhelm says he did have some interesting things to say that I just missed.
Next was M, our lovely and talented hostess. She was staying in the background much of the night, I think so she could keep an eye on the evening and defuse any potential problems, or work damage control if things got bad. She really did a good job of planning a successful party, though.
At the end of the table was C, M's boyfriend. He was not quite what I'd expected, even after hearing M talk about him. He really seems to be good for her, though - I think he provides some stability and keeps her on an even keel. He reminds me strongly of someone I once knew, but for the life of me I can't figure out who.
Beside C and starting around the other side of the table, A, who is C's best friend and was co-hosting the party with M. The only way I can think to describe her is to take M on one of her more spacey days, and add about ten percent. Well, and by part way through dinner, add a copious quantity of white wine... I don't think anyone could help but like A. I think spending a lot of time with her would start to make my head hurt, but I definitely like her.
daernhelm was next to A. He was on best behavior and playing well with others all evening. Keeping that up was probably as much of a strain on him as my own social face was for me, but I think he was having a good time.
Beside him, Your Humble Narrator. As already noted, I was in social mode, but aside from that, pretty much myself. Total alcohol consumption: 3 glasses of wine, the third after I'd intended to stop, but I didn't want to waste it after someone else poured it for me. After that I put the glass away so it wouldn't happen again. Total water consumption: I can't even begin to count. I would have been floating, if I hadn't started the evening already a little dehydrated.
demongrey was on my other side. I would say he was decidedly being himself - he was quiet when he came in, while he got the feel of the social dynamic. Then he switched to being courteous and charming to everyone else. Then he had some wine...
Finally, in the corner again, H. She had impressed me right away as the most relaxed and open of the group, and her interactions with people were giving me the best clues to what they were like. So, I spent a lot of the evening following the cues she was giving me and playing off her.
So, yes, for those keeping track, I was between daernhelm and demongrey. If I'd been having a bad night, that might have been reassuring. As it was, there were two major problems. First, the combined shoulder breadth of the three of us is enough for a football lineup, and the available space was about half a person less than what was needed. I ended up waiting until they'd both finished eating so I had enough wiggle room to cut my meat. My shoulders and upper back are still sore. Second, each of them had a beautiful and vivacious woman on the other side to attend to. This wasn't such a formal party that it impeded my conversation at all, but it made serving myself the salad a challenge. I now know that I am in fact talented enough to hold a large salad in one hand and use a pair of (separated) tongs to serve with the other, all without moving my elbows or shoulders. Thank heavens for chopstick practice!
Conversation proceeded apace, throughout the evening. After dinner, when we'd left the table, I pulled out my camera and took a few pictures. With any luck, I'll get them developed while I still remember who they are... H started an impromptu flirting contest; she invited me to participate but by then I was running out of steam and I wouldn't have had much luck anyway. I don't think anyone was really surprised by the eventual winners of the contest. I realized that I'm truly a compulsive blogger at this point, when not only I stopped at various points to think about how to put something into in my journal, but I gave my LJ username instead of my email address for contact purposes...
About half the group left around ten o'clock when we started talking about watching a Bond movie. It didn't actually happen at that point, however. daernhelm ended up washing most of the dishes from the party. I went out for a short walk. The house was very warm and stuffy, and it was a beautiful evening. I had also really hit my limit on being social by then, as I'd been on non-stop for most of four hours, and I needed to take some time away and relax. M and C were outside when I got back, and I ended up talking to C for a few minutes then, which is when I really got my impression of him. Back inside, around 11:30, the conversation finally got back to the movie, and when they picked a non-Brosnan film, daernhelm and I agreed it was about time to head for the Metro and go back to Alexandria. Besides, by then I was worried about having left my car in the Amtrak customer parking for so long...
I really liked the DC group. It was pretty startling to realize that M may well have found a social circle even geekier and stranger than our college friends. They all seem to be good people, and it looks like she fits in well with them. And I wouldn't mind seeing them again.
So, Sunday daernhelm and I picked up lunch at a wrap place we both like, about a block away near the river, and then headed toward New Jersey. The traffic was absolutely horrendous all the way up, but neither of us wanted to stop and we just pushed through. And then after we got home, oidhche called me, and I went out for ice cream with him.