I brought Daisy to a birthday party on Saturday and it turned out to be the sort of party where instead of dropping off your kid, all the parents stay for the duration of the party and mingle.
Oh, mingling, why must thou mock me?
I generally enjoy chatting with the father of this birthday boy, but he was fairly busy during this party entertaining the kids with various wacky antics, so I was left to mingle with people I either knew a little bit or not at all. I awkwardly bounced from one group of parents to another, trying desperately not to look like That Guy Over There By Himself. He's a loser.
Several times the party naturally divided into two groups: the men and the women. More often than not, I found myself plopping down on the couch alongside the women. This is a familiar pattern to me.
I'm more awkward than usual in a group of guys that I don't know well. I don't know what to say. I don't have my stock patter. I get all anxious when the conversation inevitably peters out due to my lack of common ground with pretty much everyone who isn't a business process management engine software developer. At the end of these awkward conversation, I feel like I've failed in some significant way, as though I'm incapable of making friends.
That same feeling of alienation, however, makes me feel much more normal in a group of women. It's natural to feel like the different person when you're the only guy. I can play off it with my standard bits like, "I was going to paint MY nails that color too!" using the fish-out-of-water situation for easy humor
The most reassuring part of these female-surrounded conversations is how they end. They'll come to the same familiar conclusion as nearly every interaction I've ever had with a woman.
"Oh, I know what comes now!" I'll think. "This is the part where we don't kiss!"