Ok, let's face it, I'm not exactly what you'd call a socializer. I'm just not real good at it. I guess I don't feel I have all that much in common with, well, almost anyone. In the great high school we call adult life, I am most definitely one of the weird kids in the corner reading a science fiction book. I'm actually used to it, so what has happened in the last nine months has caught me completely by surprise. In that short period of time I went from the guy people scheduled around to someone every person wanted to talk to.
Oh, I've found friends, good people who do in fact share the same interests as me, but most of the time my conversations with other people tended to go like this:
P: "Wow, that's an interesting picture on your calendar there."
Me: "Yeah, that's an He-111 bomber. In fact, it's the one that flew Franco around after World War II. The Confederate Air Force picked it up in the sixties and fly it around to this day. It's one of the only warbirds I haven't seen in person. If you'll notice the engine nacelles look funny. That's because they used Merlin engines with that model. Makes them look really different." (Ok, look, I didn't say being treated like I still had zit cream on my chin wasn't justified.)
P: [blank stare, bit of a pause] "Umm... yeah... wow... gee, look at the time, gotta go!"
Me: "Sure! No problem! You sure you don't want to see next month's--"
At which point they've usually escaped.
Worse still are lunchtime conversations. Those long, awkward silences while you're munching a sandwich with someone sitting next to you, even if it's someone you don't know very well, get under my skin in a hurry. This usually triggers a pitiful exchange like:
Me: "Wow, some weather we're having, huh?"
R: "Yeah. Rains a lot now. My geraniums have really started to wilt. Do you garden?"
Me: "Well, no, not really."
R: "And my husband hasn't been able to attend any baseball games either. Who's your favorite team?"
Me: "Ah. Well, don't really follow baseball that closely either."
R: "Wow, some weather we're having, huh?"
It gets so bad I sometimes think people move their lunch hours around just to avoid me.
At parties I try to stay quiet, which works just long enough for me to find the beer, which gives me "can't-shut-up disease." This inevitably leads to fixed stares of slowly congealing horror on the faces of those around me as I barrel across the conversational savanna like a rhino charging a tour bus.
Ellen's not a whole lot better. I know it will be nearly impossible for regular readers of this site to believe, but in a party situation Ellen is usually a complete wallflower. A field mouse under a leaf pile hiding in mortal fear of a hawk is more conspicuous than my wife at an office party. Alcohol will loosen her up, yes, but when that happens at the end of the night I can find where she is by listening for the word "cat" interspersed with "and then I said what the fuck are you talking about?!?" Not hard to do, since her voice travels quite well enough to reach the host. And the people in the next county.
Yeah, party invitations were few and far between. Repeats less so. Well, at least until we found friends as weird as we were anyway (TCM! TCM! WE'RE A FAN! IF GOTHS CAN'T DO IT NO ONE CAN!)
Pregnancy changes all of this, and not just for the mother. A lifetime membership in the pocket protectorate is suddenly turned on its head. Not only do you have something to say to someone, anyone, they're actually interested in hearing it! Even stranger, they'll actually ask you questions, and listen to the answers!
Z, in gleeful tone: "Scott honey, just how is that wife of yours doing?"
Me: [Long pause. Turn around. Twice. Did they hire another Scott? Has someone replaced the woman who said "I'm sick of you talking to me like that, and I'm going to see it stops" with some alien clone? Is this in fact the fourth sign of the apocalypse? Is my fly undone?] "Oh, uh... she's fine, ready for it to end, but fine."
Z, so cheerful you expect the top of her head to blow off from the pressure of all that pure sunshine: "Well that's just great. Just great. Be sure to give her my regards and tell her to hang in there!"
Lunchroom conversations are an absolute breeze now:
D: "How's Ellen? When is her due date again?"
Me: "June 27th."
D: "Wow. Are you guys ready?"
Me: "Well, for the most part, but..."
The eyes don't glaze over, furtive looks of "oh my god make it stop make it stop!!!" are not exchanged with better-adjusted companions, they're not even curling in on themselves like someone opened a carton of six-week-old milk under their noses. Let's try an experiment...
Me: "... and it was a great excuse to pick up the latest Stephen Hawking book, and man let me tell you--"
D: "Umm... yeah... wow... gee, look at the time, gotta go!"