Defending My Life – Day Six of Facing My Fears


Wait, what happened to Friday?  Did I totally wimp out and give up on this thing?  Let’s be realistic, it wouldn’t be the first time I stopped something midway because I found something else that interested me before.   Ohhh shiny!

No, no… let me break this down a bit.  Friday Chicago suffered crazy rainstorms and I faced the fear of driving through flood waters, but that is a normal standard good fear to have.  I decided, arbitrarily, that Friday was a ‘give me’ day because of the weather.  So the actual Day Six of this project was Saturday.

My friends put together a gathering for their daughter’s 8th grade graduation. Going to a friend’s house is not a huge deal for me but this wasn’t their house, it was a sibling’s house.  Also, this wasn’t the normal gathering of friends since this was a graduation party it was parents of a variety of kids.  I should put it out that fear of a gaggle (giggle?) of 8th grade girls is a perfectly normal natural fear.  A feral pack of predators, I tell you.

This event is exactly the sort of thing I would normally opt out of: lots of strangers and a long distance to drive.  The distance isn’t really a factor but my car is junk.  It seems anytime I drive somewhere of any distance, something goes wrong.  This was no exception.  My check engine light came on.  I know it isn’t the end of the world, but it reminds me that this vehicle needs to be serviced badly.  Was the day a success?  Partially.  I’m a wallflower.  Having conversations with people I don’t know is just so difficult, especially when they know each other.  Unless someone breaks out a conversation about perception based reality, state of nature, constitutional theory, or Star Trek, I sit dumbfounded.  Even the normal life stuff that people, people my age and younger, can talk about, like kids, homes, careers is beyond me.  I don’t know what married life is like.  I don’t know what owning a home is like.  I don’t know how difficult it is to negotiate the schedules of two kids.   Okay, that long whine is just part of my anxiety of having to face the reality that my life is following a distinct groove that makes me feel out of sync with everyone else and thus makes it more difficult to interact with other people.  What do I have to say that is of any interest to people?  My opinions on their topics of conversation are based purely on theory and conjecture, not actual life experience.  This does not bode well for my 20th high school reunion, but I will cross that rickety bridge when I arrive at it.

Apart from the drive and car issue, the critical points of my anxiety occur after arriving.  I suffer the social angst of wondering if I’ve arrived too early.  I like to be punctual, but in Chicago, no one is punctual.  I can’t tell you how many people have asked em to lie to them about start times of movies to make sure they get there in time.  I think people are so used to other people exaggerating when they have to be somewhere that they just add 30 minutes to any start time they hear.   Okay, okay, this isn’t supposed to be a pet peeve rant.  Also since I’ve never been to this house before, have only met my friend’s brother once before, I have severe trepidation of how to approach the house.  I hear the music coming from the backyard but I don’t know how to get there, and since I’m only going to know my friend, his wife and their kids, I don’t want to be some strange guy just appearing.

No lie, I sat in my car for twenty minutes formulating strategies.  Of course there is only one strategy – go up to the frakking door and ring the frakking bell.  Guess what? Well, you probably don’t have to guess, someone answered the door, someone I didn’t know and she asked if I was there for the party, I said yes, and she directed me to the backyard.  Simple as that. No third degree, no fingerprint scans, no judgment.

One interesting fact I did learn at this event: I am referred to as fake Uncle Sean.  “Who is that?” “Fake Uncle Sean.”  I started to take offense as I don’t think I’m fake, but it was meant to distinguish between their real Uncle and the guy who isn’t an Uncle but might as well be.

Published by Sean D. Francis

Sean D. Francis is a technologist, writer, and geek. He podcasts, makes video, and dabbles in all the geeky genres including horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.