Clueless in America. Chapter 49

49. Green Bay Socialites.

We arrived in Green Bay somewhat late. Guess it was all that soul searching girl scouting deliberating. Quite fortunately our friends were still politely sucking cappuccinos and waiting for us. It was a nice cafe with strange art hanging on the walls. The art was totally created with medical equipment. Great if you slipped over on some coffee, but perhaps rather perplexing if you happen to be a straight laced tow truck driver. If I remember I will write a little later what relevance this cafe holds to the story.

We had our coffee and rather dully allowed Ronnan to direct us to our friend’s house. Our friends are in a multi-cultural marriage thus giving me some breathing space in a rather suffocating culturally ghettoised nation. I should probably leave that point alone for now.

Green Bay was a little sad for me. Being a huge Packers fan visiting Green Bay for the very first-time, I was so so disappointed that the best I managed to do was watch a game on the tele. I never even got to go and look at the stadium, let alone get inside to watch a game. Perhaps it can be best compared to going to heaven and not getting to see God. Very sad indeed.

But moving on, we got to go to a party. A real party, you know one of those places that young people go to and get drunk, do drugs and all sorts of things that I am not going to write about. However at the party most people were above thirty, thus not really that young.

Now one of the cruelest things that one can do to this naturally shy person is to take me to a party and then disappear and hang out with your own friends. On account that I am always telling stories, most people do not realise how painfully shy I really am. As a youth it was easy to mask my shyness by drinking another beer. But even then I was so shy that I had to start drinking before the party. Without the alcohol I was as stranded as a helpless ‘nigel’. Of course now that I have grown up, got boring and somewhat comfortable in my own skin, I realise that using alcohol as a crutch is not only destroying my brain cells and making me look either stupid or cool, but also it is an insecure person’s lie.

So now when I am in such tortuous places as parties, I look for the corners where I can blend with other slinking ‘nigels’. By now most readers outside my personal Dunedin(139) eighties culture should be thinking, ‘what is a nigel?’ Nigel, naturally is a man’s name. But in my culture, Nigel was the person who was uncomfortable in his own skin, who had few friends and most of them were total dweebs(140). A ‘nigel’ often carries a visible pen in his pocket and has bad hair. The horror for anyone who happens to get stuck at a party with a ‘nigel’ is; though they are usually totally socially inept, when they do get a chance to shine linguistically beside a life-of-the-party cool person, it is hard to shut them up or to get them on a subject that is of any interest. I am a ‘nigel’. If ever you hold a party, never invite me, unless you invite another ‘nigel’ with whom I can uncomfortably fumble through a conversation.

And Praise God there was another ‘nigel’ at this party. It took me all of two minutes to find him. We walked into the room. Some perfect stranger took my jacket, our friends who seemingly knew everyone disappeared, leaving me traumatised, gawking at a room full of horrifically scary looking strangers who all spoke in a foreign accent. I scanned the room quickly and spotted an adjacent room with a tele on. I beelined for the room and discovered it was a ‘nigel’ haven. Waiting in the room was a forlorn Japanese student sitting with his ‘nigel’ American girlfriend perplexing over a game of cricket(141). This was perfect; three ‘nigels’, a tolerant Sharon, a game of cricket at a Green Bay party. It was a scene waiting for a punch-line. Within minutes, as the cricket-as-a-first-culture person, I was asked to explain the rules. I explained them as if I really cared and the ‘nigel’ Japanese/American couple listened as if they really cared. Then perhaps much to their delight, Sharon and I started debating the enormously complex rules of cricket, thus allowing them the delight of not having to even act interested, let alone torture themselves by having to converse. We were all rescued from the ordeal upon being socially forced into the main room for the obligatory singing of the birthday song.

It was at this stage that I decided that I had to corner a non-‘nigel’ and pretend to be socially capable.  So like all wanna-be cool people, I went to hang out at the food table, ’cause anyone who is anyone will eventually get hungry, thus falling into the wanna-be’s lure. And that is exactly what happened, right in the middle of me trying to look intelligent whilst studying the brie and the blue-vein, some university lecturer in his late forties was silly enough to try start up a conversation with me. Oh I was in the ‘nigel’ hell and the wanna-be’s heaven and was frantically conversationally searching for safe or even familiar ground. At one stage a woman walked into our attempts of conversation and asked me where I was from. I replied ‘from New Zealand’. To which she said ‘Were you in ‘such-a-such’ cafe yesterday?’ I said ‘Yeah’. She replied ‘My flat-mate works there and told me that some foreigners were there’. Thus confirming to me that Wisconsin really is just a large small town wanting to be noticed. Then she fluttered off to that place unknown to the likes of me, where all social-butterflies rendezvous.

Suddenly our conversation brushed over a subject that was safe for me. Fortunately I was quick enough to spot it and clumsy enough to redirect the conversation back to it. The subject was evolution, which quickly moved on to the subjects of church and Catholicism. Upon the unveiling of the word Catholic, his wife let out a rather theatrical eye roll before exiting the stage. She clearly had been embarrassed by her husband’s hobby-horse on more than one previous occasion and wisely fled the scene. He was a Catholic and a theology lecturer who had some rather interesting intellectual views on the origin of the human race and his role in society as a small ‘c’ catholic. Forty minutes later both my wife and our re-appeared hosts were dragging this party animal out of the house to the sound of me telling them just how I missed such parties. Oh how short my ‘nigel’ memory is.

Tune in next week to learn about hell and high water.

For past chapters click here. Or look on the side panel.

You may have noticed some bracketed numbers in this chapter. These numbers correspond with explanations and definitions that are in an accompanying glossary. To read the glossary you will need to by the yet to be released book. Sorry!

Thank you so much for reading out for lunch. If you would like to contribute toward the running of out for lunch or donate money towards my writing projects, please click on the donate button. Thanks Kel.

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