I went to a drinks party last night. I'm getting pretty good at these. I still dread them, but once I'm there I have a surprisingly good time.
I meant to leave early, but by the time I checked my watch it was nearly 11pm and the place was emptying out.
I have come to hugely appreciate places that sell non-alcoholic cocktails. I hate having to drink diet coke, water or - God forbid - orange juice, at a drinks party. It makes me feel like a child, and I imagine that everyone is staring at my drink thinking pregnant? No, too old. Ex-lush.
But I do need something to drink. Without a glass in my hand I feel naked. Exposed. Lost.
So the virgin mojito is my new best buddy. It gives me something to wave around and sip (sip! Moi? Who knew?) and makes me feel - if not sophisticated - at least a bit adult.
Last night I was standing there clutching my mojito when I saw a friend approaching. She reminded me so much of my old self. For a start, she was already tipsy.
In my days BS (before sober) I would never have arrived at a party without having drunk half a bottle of wine first (as a 'sharpener' while getting ready).
She wasn't slurring or unsteady (and I was always very careful not to get to that stage, but I had an inordinately high tolerance level by the end), but she did manage to barge past someone causing them to drop the glass of champagne they were holding which smashed all over the floor. She either didn't notice, or just ignored the chaos.
On finding me she launched into 3 topics of conversation in quick succession. Exactly the same ones we'd discussed a few days previously.
Yikes! That was old me!
Years ago I was a fun, amusing drunk, but as time went on and I drank more and more, I'd pass through the 'fun' stage super fast (often before I even got to a party) and end up feeling slightly numb and confused. A bit lost for words.
More often than not, I'd fall back on 'default conversations' which were usually ones I'd already had!
And while I was going through the motions last night of the previously held conversations, my friend was looking over my shoulder to see who else was around.
She'd keep wandering off, then coming back. Again, that was me BS. Unable to concentrate on the moment or stay in one conversation, but always casting around for the next thing.
Plus, she didn't ask me one thing about myself or my life. I didn't blame her one bit. I'd been set to 'transmit' rather than 'receive' for the last decade!
Towards the end of my drinking career I'd, in an unusual display of self awareness, begun to realise that, despite managing to hold it together at parties, my social skills weren't up to much.
In fact, I'd got so paranoid about it that I would make a mental note before I went out of anecdotes I might tell if stuck.
Now I'm horrified at the thought that the girl who was once the renowned 'life and soul' of a party was reduced to writing down things to say!
It struck me that part of the reason why all our best friends seem to be big drinkers too isn't just that we feel more comfortable with 'kindred souls', it's also because they're the only ones too drunk to realise how boring (slash insensitive, slash embarrassing) we've become!
I still don't feel entirely comfortable at parties, but I'm pretty sure that parties are a lot more comfortable with me.
I dread to think how many hearts must have sunk over the last few years as I wove my way round a room, endlessly popping in and out of groups of people, interrupting their conversations and wheeling out tired old anecdotes.
Love to you all,