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I’m having a hard time making friends at my daughter’s preschool. Because I tend to be the sort of person who hangs back a bit a first meet, I just can’t integrate into the group. It doesn’t help that I get nervous around “new” people, say silly, nonsensical things, interject inappropriate comments at inopportune times, and experience nervous tics.
Toots has been to three preschools now (for valid and non-schitzo-parental reasons; also she’s been at preschools for almost three years so it works out to one a year), and at each one, I can’t seem to convince the moms that I’m worth knowing. I have non-preschool friends, quite a few friends actually, but I’m a slow burn, it takes me awhile to feel comfortable enough to be myself, to not talk in weird bursts of strange verbosity, and to stop drawing my nose and mouth up and down in a rapid-fire, alarming seizure-like motion, like the one I did throughout my wedding video because the thought of all those people watching me freaked my head.
If I had to guess, and if you didn’t know me, I’d say I come across like a mix between a morose Andy Dick and dorkier Napoleon Dynamite.
So yesterday, the family and I took ourselves to a birthday party for a prechoolmate of Toots’. And as is usually the case, I hung around the fringes of conversations in motion and threw an occasional smile into the mix, hoping someone would ignore my mealy mouth thing, and invite me in. When that failed, The Rock and I hyper managed the kids and followed them around because they’re our only friends and at least it looked like we were talking to somebody.
And what is it? How do all these people know each other already? I go to the same functions and parties and recitals and insufferable parent volunteer deals. Is it me? Am I *gasp*, am I lame? Also, how far do chronic halitosis clouds travel?
My friend wants to know.
Maybe I’m an acquired taste. I do catch my longtime friends sometimes imperceptibly inching away from me here and there because I’ve said some ridiculous thing that is either (a) offensive (b) too loud or (c) head-scratching. For example, at a nice holiday dinner last week, I asked my friend-employer if the beautiful wrap she wore was a Snuggie. As previously mentioned, we were at a nice holiday dinner at a beautiful and delicious restaurant, so there would be no reason for her to wear a blanket with arms. Some kind of weird vocab/syntax signal wire crossed in my mind, and I thought that because her wrap looked warm, it might approach the general coziness of a Snuggie, but not that it actually WAS a Snuggie, but too late, I said the thing out loud and so no kidding I have zero friends at preschool. Even The Rock, who says far more inappropriate things than I, and at much more regular intervals (note: this is what is known as “making oneself feel better”) looked at me askance, later telling me that I was “earnest,” but in that patronizing, you loser, kind of way, and when I asked him to elaborate and be more specific with his constructive criticism, he lost interest and I dissolved into a pillar of tears.
Oops! Did I say that part out loud? There I accidentally and non-passive-aggressively go again. (For the record, The Rock felt really bad. Still I silent treatmented him for the better part of a weekend. Hell hath no fury like my sealed mouth)
In addition, a few nights ago at a friend’s house, I remarked some weirdo thing that kind of doesn’t even make sense to me now, but the gist was that I said her peers at an upscale preschool her son attends probably all have that Predator screen behind their eyes so that when they look at someone, the screen dissects what they are wearing and flashes text alerts showing where they bought each thing. Because they’re superficial. And don’t like DSW.
Basically I said that my friend’s friends look like this and have the depth of fruit roll-ups.
Imagine the screen shown above, but with words like “Bought at Nordstrom on sale,” “Is Louis Vuitton,” “TJ Maxx clearance rack,” corresponding to the clothes a person is wearing.
I know. She didn’t get it either.
So that’s pretty much it. Also imagine if someone were to say off-putting and befuddling statements like that described above, but you didn’t know them, and interspersed between each random line was a tic and bursts of barking laughter at unfunny stuff.
Or maybe yesterday, it was my bangs. I’d tried to coax them into some semblance of normality, but hair strands kept falling into unauthorized forehead quadrants, so I sprayed and pomaded them to within an inch of their puny lives, resulting in a greasy bang explosion of monumental proportions (Aaryn! Wherefore art is Amber?). I looked like that mom who rolls out of bed at the last minute, throws hobo clothes on her kids, and spritzes mouthwash to kill the stale scent of last night’s wine binge.
It’s kinda making sense now, right?
Still! I want some preschool friends! Aren’t I supposed to be a good role model for Toots? I don’t want her to someday attend parties hanging out in the corner, nibbling pineapple slices and imagining Predator screens behind everyone’s eyes. The world can’t handle two of us and I don’t want to be responsible for tipping it off its axis in a cyclone of too-much Going Geico™.
Do you have preschool friends? How’d you do it? Is there hope for me and my greasy bangs? And why are some ladies so averse to welcoming new weird people into the group?