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Be yourself, you say…

(For all my fellow corner-huggers)

I’m worried about what I should do with my hands, if I’m holding myself wrong, standing awkwardly.

Just don’t worry about it, you say. Don’t think about how you hold yourself. Just be natural. Be yourself.

Be natural, don’t think about it. Don’t think about my hands. My hands my hands my hands.
My hands are suddenly huge, arms hanging, dangling. I must not think about them.
And what if I blush? Laugh too loudly?

Ah, a drink. Good. Something to hold. But what if I spill my drink?

Just relax, be casual, you say.

Relax. Be casual. My hands. My big hands. They’re shaking. I’ll finish my drink – then I can’t spill it.
Am I too tall in these shoes? Shall I lean a little to one side? Too casual?

What’s that? Someone spoke to me and I ignored them? Should I go and find them? Apologise?

No, you say. Maybe just mention it if they come over again, you say.

Ah… a tray of champagne. I’ll have another drink then.
I’m smiling. Why am I smiling? Do I look like an idiot? Am I grinning too much? False? A bit false? I’ll just look around the room and then… then what shall I do? Shall I talk to someone?
Oh – where are you going?
Oh yes. Okay. Don’t be long.
Oh no. Now you’re stopping to talk to someone.

A food tray. Now, do I? You’ll tell me off if I don’t eat anything. Is it bite-size? Hmm – two bites. I can’t do two bites.
Dear God, did I really just tell the waiter I have a cooking oil allergy?
Oh dear. Someone’s coming over looking all pally. Who-the-bloody-hell-is-it? Do I know this person? I’ll just turn around and pretend I haven’t seen them. Pretend to get something out of my bag.
Now that’s someone else who thinks I’m a peculiar freak. But I do say the most awful crap in a panic so best to just have another drink before I mingle.

What are you still doing over there? Do come back.
You’re coming, you’re coming. That’s it. Come back. Don’t stop.

Yes. I know they’re lovely and I know I should have come over but you know I don’t like to move when I find a safe corner.

How many drinks? you ask me.
Oh God, why? Three. Or is it four? Do I look drunk? Are my eyes red? Shall I go to the bathroom? Where is it? Ooh… It’s quite a long way. Will I make it do you think?
Okay. Hold my drink. No don’t, actually, I’ll take it.

Now I’m walking like an astronaut on the moon. Why am I doing that? Stop it. Walk normally.

Hello? Did someone say hello? I’m not stopping until I’ve checked my face.
Glass. Where shall I put my glass? I’ll just finish it and then I don’t have to take it in with me.

May as well go to the loo while I’m in here. Whoops. Feeling a bit tipsy, actually.
Burp. Yes. That was me.
Ah. Now I’ve put my thumb through my tights. Praps I’d better take them off. Ha-ha. Can’t seem to do that without falling over. I seem to be giggling quite loudly too. I’m not sure why. I’m sure this is not funny.
Did I flush? Did I even have a wee?
I look in the mirror and don’t recognise myself. Well, would you believe it – that haggard old tart in the mirror is me.
What a sight. I need a drink. In a dark corner.

Someone vaguely familiar has taken pity on me and is asking me what I am “doing with myself these days.”
I wish you were here. What is it that I do?
‘I’m nothing really, I kind of … well…I mean,’ I’m saying with my vacant expression and confirming what they all think about me anyway. Lazy and gormless. Is that me?

Oh you’re there. It’s a bit too middle-of-the-room-y here, don’t you think? I keep bumping into people and I need to be somewhere where the wine waiter can get to us.

Stop worrying. Be yourself, you say again.

Yes. Sorry. You carry on talking to people and I’ll make more of an effort.

Good. I’ve managed to successfully bore a few people away by pointing out how red my eyes are and how it’s nothing to do with alcohol. So now I can get a drink. Although it’s not true that I’ve tried out twelve different types of contact lenses in the last two years. Why do I feel the need to make up such dull rubbish?

Two. I’ll take two. One for me and one for you. You’ll come and find me eventually, won’t you? Now where’s my corner?

Be yourself, you said.

I’ve lost you. I can’t see you and now lots of people are dancing. I’ll just sit here and wait and sip self-consciously. Oh now mine’s empty. Yours is getting warm. I’d better drink it then.
Feeling a bit sleepy. I’m sure I’m officially the drunkest person in the room and I feel a bit overwhelmed.

Be yourself.
Myself? Me?
I’m not sure I’m even here.
I didn’t notice that this table was blocking a door. I’ll just crawl under and… Ooh… It’s not even locked.
Marvellous. A little study: sofa, desk, stereo and books. What more could a girl want? I’ll just stay here and behave myself and maybe listen to some music…
Now, this is fun.

I’m waking up and you’re looking down at me
Ah, found you, you’re saying.
I found me too, I say, smiling and breathing deeply.


(Not a true story but I am in here… in bits…)

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. yep, this is pretty much me at parties, only I don’t drink. If I’m lucky I buttonhole someone all night & talk to them about philosophy, until they prise themselves away. This is why I don’t go to them any more!

    Absolutely nailed that interior-monologue we have stood there in silence among a throng of others chattering away to one another


  2. Oh yeah I’m totally a corner-hugger, analysing everything I do and knowing I got it wrong. Spot on.


  3. I really loved this story. The internal monologue is indeed great.


  4. Nicely done Rach, I’ve seem to have found a new coping strategy for these situations, I’ve developed a trick of turning into a female buffoon, an odd character who has crept in with age.


  5. I smiled the whole of the way through this, it is just soooo on the nail, I think more people than would admit it go through this interrior beating-up.

    It makes a person wonder why they put themselves into these situations doesn’t it?

    I thought the bit about getting two drinks, then having an excuse to drink both of them was so comically truthful. 🙂


  6. Deanna Schrayer #

    Rachel, as others have mentioned, the internal monologue here is terrific! That’s something that very few can do, but you have nailed it.

    Although this may have been intended to be a comedic sketch, (and it seems everyone else has taken it as such), I feel a much deeper, desparate personality split going on here. It sounds so very much like a True alcoholic whose “regular” self has left her alone to fend for herself. In either case, the writing is simply wonderful!


  7. “Burp. Yes. That was me.”

    If we ever end up at the same party we should definitely hang out together.


  8. I can totally relate to parts of this – nice style and light feeling to this. Great work


  9. Ha ha, oh my goodness… that reminds me of the time an elderly relative told me to stand up straight because I walked like a duck. I spent the whole day trying to look at my own backside while walking; ended up parading up and down shop fronts or in front of windows, squinting at myself with a panicked expression. Got some funny looks that day and for a while after — it took ages to embrace my inner mallard.


  10. Like Deanna, I saw the not-so-positive side of her situation here. The way she made up excuses for another glass and refused food. I thought she was going to throw up in the bathroom:I’m guessing she has eating disorders too? Very poignant is the fact that she has someone who cares about her at all. I liked this a lot.


  11. Really enjoyed this, I can totally relate to the nervousness here. Loved the way you showed the thought process as well.


  12. adampb #

    I can totally empathise with this character. Need some more courage.
    Adam B @revhappiness


  13. Like the others have said, the internal monologue is perfect! I can relate, I’ve had moments like that at parties.



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