This is a joke I made up for Mer over the summer:
Two social workers walk into a bar. What would that look like?
My girlfriend invited me to her department's holiday party last week and to say that I was nervous is a gross understatement. I'm nervous all the time anyway, but knowing I was entering a room full of psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers--basically the Chex Party Mix of people who could analyze my every move-- made me sweat in the 20 degree weather as we walked over to the Harvard Faculty lounge.
This was the conversation we had as we walked:
Me: Are you sure what I'm wearing is OK?
Me: It's not going to be fancy? You promise?
Meredith: Jess, I have no idea.
As we walked closer to the building I saw people through the windows.
Me: Damn it, Meredith! I told you it was fancy! People are wearing vests and ties!
Meredith: Jess! Calm down! Those are the waiters!
We checked our coats and walked into the main room where Mer started pointing people out to me. That's the Chair of so-and so. That's the Chair of whatsername. As she pointed to important people I couldn't stop thinking about the Annie Hall line, "Two more chairs they got a dining room set!"
She introduced me to her incredibly kind colleagues and they all immediately asked me one of three questions:
1) Q: Are you a social worker? A: I'm a social worker supporter!
2) Q: Are you in the mental health profession? A: [Immediate flash of the restaurant] Indirectly.
3) Q: What is it that you do? A: I feed the hungry.
I finally relaxed after settling in for a minute and was having a nice conversation with someone when a waiter walked by with a tray of hors d'oeuvres and asked, "Vegetarian spring roll, sir?"
Motherfucker! Honestly people, I've been called sir at least 13 times in the past 3 months. It totally threw off my game.
Grabbing my second drink in a 10-minute window, I wondered if anyone noticed. I've never in my life been in a room with so many good listeners. People asked me questions and then waited patiently for my answers. The only problem being that I never have anything to say. So it was a lot of awkward silences as Mer schmoozed and I tried my hardest not to say stupid things like, "The food's delicious. I was just expecting some Freudian dip."
I became acutely aware of everything I was doing. Stop twitching. Smile less. Why are you nodding so much? Wait, no-- nod more. Not so fast you freak, your head will fall off. Did they just ask you a question? Redirect. Did you try the spring rolls?
Mer was totally in her element and I loved seeing how much her coworkers respect and value her. It was the best part of the night for sure, and totally worth any discomfort on my own part. Grabbing some desserts, we stood talking to some of her favorite people when her friend looked to the gingerbread man on her plate and asked, "How do you eat a gingerbread cookie? Legs first? Head? It says something about you."
Meredith considered the question for a moment and then answered. "Legs or arms, I'd say."
"Good. I'd be worried if you went for the head first."
Starting to sweat again, I looked to the mini fruit tart on my plate and didn't dare touch it.