I have this friend, and when she is put in awkward social situations she often turns into this outgoing, super friendly and interested version of herself. Most people tend to respond positively and want to talk to her and be around her. I tend to want to beat her with a wooden spoon, but she's probably onto something. Because I evidently lack basic social skills. When put in awkward social situations I want to escape. And since I am catagorically incapable of expressing any feeling other than the one I am experiencing, I tend to stare around the room with a horrified look in my eyes. Observing other people's social patterns without contributing one of my own. Or else I will silently judge people for their poor choices (how's that for the pot calling the kettle socially inept??).
I'm not outgoing enough to strike up effortless conversations with people and I'm not self confident enough to just stay quiet without feeling awkward. I went by myself to the wedding of a childhood friend and I spent the whole time wishing I had just sent a gift. And it didn't help that everyone with whom I struck up a conversation-- her father-in-law, her grandmother, the caterer-- would eventually pat me jovially on the shoulder and suggest that I might like to go mingle with some of the nice people my own age. And hit the dance floor with them! Didn't I like to dance!?
The other day I was at the mall and I wandered into the Sketecher's store. I realized too late, when I was already inside, that I was the only customer in the store. This probably doesn't bother, oh, anyone like it bothers me. But I guess I feel obligated to make an effort to look around if I'm the only one there, even though I've ruled out all the shoes when I walked through the door on the basis that I'm incredibly picky. I feel the same way when I am one of the few people to show up at a crappy poetry reading or show of some kind-- I want to leave but I feel like since I'm there I have to stay because it would be much more obvious if I left.
"Hi," said the nice salesman standing by the door.
"Hi" I mumbled, instead of fishing my cell phone out of my pocket and pretending to answer it as I left the store.
The salesman very nicely asked if I was looking for anything in particular and told me that the store was offering some buy one get one half off type deals. And I listened. And then I looked around. And then a woman with long black hair and a Macy's bag walked through the door and I grabbed her roughly by the shoulders and said THANK GOD YOU'RE HERE. But actually I just walked out toward my freedom, represented in this case by a soft pretzel.