I despise functions. Functions, social gatherings where people gather and meet each other. Functions where people walk around with fake smiles, talk to people they don’t care about, enquiring about things that they have no business knowing. Functions where fifteen people run around, ‘helping’ with errands that three people would comfortably finish. Functions where versatile ‘intellectuals’ have an opinion on everything from the political situation in the Middle-East to the quality of pepper used in the meat.
At one of these, I’m generally the wallflower.
I avoid people’s eyes as if they burn me. I’m scared of the smiles that pretend to recognise me, when I have no clue who they are. I am puzzled at the accusative looks that tell me that I am probably supposed to go help in moving a table that five people already have their hands on.
So I stand around, leaning carelessly against a wall or sitting slumped in a chair; blotting out the world around me. I stay there with eyes skidding across the horizon or staying rooted deeply on a pebble on the ground. I stay there, unobtrusively, and slowly vanish – like I am part of the furniture, like I don’t exist.
And the crowd around obliges – they move around, not noticing, like I am part of the furniture, like I don’t exist.
And I see people all around me, I can feel every one of them dearly wishing they could do the same. But a wallflower is more than they can take. So they unfold a newspaper and dig their heads into it, pretending to be engrossed. Or they pull out their cellphones and get busy tapping and swiping on them.
It’s as if everyone wishes to run away from the social commotion about them, needs an escape into their own respective secret worlds. However, the thought of being a wallflower terrifies them; the innocuous invisibility is a terrible plight in their eyes – so they shove away their phones, fold their newspapers, and start to move around; yet again, with bright smiles and outstretched arms.
And I sit there, not noticing them not noticing me as they move about. I sit there, like I’m part of the furniture, like I don’t exist.