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Sacramento Connect Mixer: An Exercise in Anti-Misanthropy and Clammy Hands

There’s nothing I like better than feeling like totally super awkward, so I chose to subject myself to an event the other night where I would know no one. And I walked into it all alone. While a woman greeted me with a name tag, I looked out into the sea of strangers who appeared to be having a fabulous enough time without me horning in.

As far as I was concerned, they already knew each other, engaging in comfortable and relaxed conversation, huddling in small private circles. I tentatively entered the room, trying not to look nervous, having no idea where to begin. And if I stood there too long by myself, everyone who saw me standing there helpless would assume I was a social outcast and begin to ignore me. It’s how they do it in the animal kingdom, isn’t it?

Show of hands: who just went fetal at the that thought? Me too. And I was there!

sacramento connect Perhaps you’ve heard me mention this new network of local bloggers, an alliance, if you will, formed by The Sacramento Bee, called Sacramento Connect. They held what is frightfully referred to as “a mixer” the other night. Mixers, apparently, refer to a social gathering that requires you to walk into a room full of strangers and “mix”. But you can’t really focus on a real conversation because you are too busy trying not to trip on the way in, or spill wine down the front of your white blouse, or talk with your mouth full of appetizers and spit, say, escargot on-a-stick while blurting out with far too much force: “Oh, it’s so so so nice to meet you” followed by laughing too loud and nobody knows why you’re even laughing because you didn’t say anything funny, but you get so nervous at these things and gosh, is it me or is it hot in here?

And are you ready for the worst part? It’s when someone clinks on a glass to shut everyone up so an MC can thank you for coming and LET’S ALL GO AROUND THE ROOM AND INTRODUCE OURSELVES.

AAAAAAACKKK!!!!!! I hate that.

And since I froze up, I was unable to excuse myself and run to the bathroom, and that would have only attracted attention to myself anyway, and they might have thought I had a digestive “problem” having to actually run to the bathroom. So I stood there as single drips of sweat rolled ever-so-slowly down my back, while each person one-by-one said their name, going around the room.

It felt like a countdown to my death. I stood there waiting and sweating and thinking, Why do we have to say our names? Isn’t this why we have name tags slapped on our chests? Why must they torture us like this? Why did I even come? I hate these people. I hate every single person in this room right now. I wish an alien spaceship, in a  fantastic deus ex machina moment, would crash through the roof right now and kill us all. Or just kill half of us and take me back to outer space with them, because I’ve always wanted to meet an alien so that I could include them in my memoirs and — Oh God! It’s my turn! Someone is poking me in the back. What’s my name again? Crap, I knew it a minute ago. How should I say my name? Should I just say my first name? Or my first and last name? What’s everyone else been doing?

Have you ever noticed that? When people go around the room and are unsure of the format of their answer, they simply copy the person before them? I was at this other party a couple of weeks ago where people were instructed to go around the room, introduce themselves and say a sentence or two about nothing in particular. The first two people said something nice and unexpected, but then the third person said why they were attending this function and everyone else must have decided that was the easy answer and simply also said why they were there, myself included.

You must think I belong to a lot of Somethings Anonymous groups because even I’m noticing a theme here: that I attend many functions where we have to “go around the room”.

Wait – where was I? Oh yeah, I was about to introduce myself at this “mixer”. While this was a relatively easy exercise because all we had to do was say our name and the name of our blog. But the third word of the title of my blog is often mistaken to be heard as “and” instead of “in”, so I debate about how much I should enunciate that third word. I’m sure I sound like an idiot when I say it: My name is Margaret and my blog is called “nanny goats IN panties”.

Who cares if it’s IN or AND? I mean, really, we’re just going around the room. But no, I have to say IN and also say “panTies”, so that it doesn’t sound like “pannies”.

Pannies? Really? I’m worried that someone will think I’m saying “pannies”?

Also, I met my arch nemesis, Mark Valdez, that evening. I didn’t know he was my arch nemesis until he told me. We both kind of try to race each other to the top of the Sacramento Top 25 list which resets every two weeks. (so if you want to help me pummel him this week, you’ll click on this Sacto Top 25 link). Ha! Take that Mark Valdez! You, who I envy at the moment because you thought to take pictures of this mixer and I didn’t.

I left (with my parting gift of a bottle of Revolution Zinfandel, as the event was held at Revolution Winery) heaving a sigh of relief that that was over. Little did I know that it wasn’t really over because I found myself the next night with yet another encounter of a roomful of strangers.

Tune in next time when our heroine… (that’s me, by the way. I’m referring to me. I’m the heroine in this picture) … when our heroine attends the Sacramento Bee Virtual Wine Tasting event.

Remember to click this Sacto Top 25 link. A vote for me is a vote for America!

I would also like to thank the following people for being nice to me and talking to me in spite of my red splotched shirt and escargot-on-a-stick-smeared hair:

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56 Comments

  1. What a fun sounding event… and from Marc's photos, it looks like you all had a great time. I get the very same way at functions, so I usually find out who else is going who is just as nervous as me and make a plan to meet them somewhere so neither one of us is alone. Wimpy, I know… so sue me!!
    BTW, I clicked on the link and voted for you – at this time you are #3 and Mark is #8 – WooHoo!!!

  2. Lanita Moss says:

    I am beginning to sense a trend that there are more introverted shy people out there than I think. I just wrote about the same thing today. And here I thought sorority rush was over…but it just goes on and on and on. I'm with Jayne, grab a glass and a bottle and make like a potted fern.

    1. It's amazing how the truth comes out when we all see what everybody blogs about and how nearly no one is that fabulously confident. Unless they are delusional. Which might be a good thing, because at least it keeps the stress down a bit.

  3. […] me as such, is conspiring against me because I stuffed the ballot box when I asked you guys in last week’s post to click over to the Sacramento Top 25 . Clearly, he is trying to destroy me by going to every rack […]

  4. MikeWJ at TooManyMornings says:

    “There’s nothing I like better than feeling like totally super awkward.”

    Story of my life, Margaret. In fact, I could've written this post it's so similar to my life experience. The sweaty guy standing alone in a roomful of strangers, wondering whether to interject himself into a group, laughing too loudly at nothing in particular and not really listening to anything anybody else is saying because I'm so focused on myself.

    Hilarious reading about it.

    Not so hilarious living it.

    But thanks for the chuckle anyway.

    1. “and not really listening to anything anybody else is saying because I'm so focused on myself.”
      YES! That's me too. I can't pay attention because I'm too busy freaking out.

  5. Jb says:

    You are a brave person! I hope I'm never crazy enough to submit myself willingly to that kind of torture!

    I find it ironic that you are advertising your arch nemesis' blog 😉 . Is ironic the right word for that?

    1. Yes, I think ironic might just fit the bill on that one. And I guess we must
      be on friendly terms now that we've been forced to see each other
      face-to-face and can no longer hide behind the safety net of cyberspace.

  6. Ginger says:

    lol…WishI could relate with your phobia for events like these. I was in marketing and used to enjoy coming up with different ways of introducing myself!
    The cure is – going for more and more events :-p
    I went to checkout the pix at marcvaldez. Nana doth protest too much; you looked waaay comfortable!!!!

    1. I think you're right. I need to de-sensitize myself. It's that “exposure”
      therapy like they do for fear of flying.

  7. I would have done anything to see the faces of the people when you announce the blog name…. I HATE GROUP INTRODUCTION THINGS! I hate work “games” that make you “bond”… I hate ALL of that. I would have been the one running to the bathroom. You should be proud you went!

    1. You know what it is? It's the lazy way of matchmaking. Instead of
      introducing people to each other one on one because you know they might have
      something in common, it's: “Everybody? This is Everybody.”

  8. There is nothing worse than going to an event alone. I'd rather have hives.

    I tried to vote and couldn't figure it out hen I read the comments so Yep, I voted!

    Hope your July 4th is a fun and relaxing weekend. Break open that free bottle of wine and enjoy!
    Cheers, jj

    1. I'd like to say that I'd rather have hives, except that I already do have hives, so I got to go alone AND have hives, how fun is that?

  9. Margaret next time, let me know. I'll come up and join you. It's not that far. Then we can huddle and snicker and laugh at all those outsiders! I was in marketing for many years and I am a total introvert. I did fine walking up to people and sticking my hand out to introduce myself, but I hated it with a passion.

    1. Aw, that's so nice of you. That would be so cool to meet you in real life! And do let me know if you ever come to Sacto so we can do lunch or something!

      1. We do come up, Margaret, and next time I'll email you ahead and we can
        take you for a drink at least! And if you go to any more mixers (Hah!)
        the offers stands!

  10. Swirl Girl says:

    good for you! I felt the same way when I went to SITScation last October. Everyone knew each other…I went alone.

    then, all it takes is having lunch with one person and their little stufffed goat 🙂

    1. Oh, I don't think I knew anyone at SITScation either. And while I went alone, I suppose by bringing Lacy, it helped me feel not as alone. Plus people seemed to like her and be willing to talk to me in a friendly way instead of a oh-you're-one-of-THOSE-people-who-carries-around-stuffed-animal type of people and avoid me. It could have gone either way.

  11. MarcValdez says:

    Hi! Boy, did I feel awkward when I arrived at this gathering! When I saw both you and Ann talking together, I thought “unlike everyone else, those two women are utterly at ease in this place. I envy their cool, sophisticated demeanor!” I would never have guessed at any hidden awkwardness.

    Wow! You are number TWO today on Bressler's Top 25! Amazing! Just one step to number ONE! All you have to do is tap into some of the OCD-type folks that seem to power Xenophilia and you will be Queen of the Universe!

    1. By the time I was talking to Ann, I'd been there awhile and therefore had sucked down a bit of wine and relaxed. Plus, I liked Ann before I even met her, so what looked like comfort was probably a lot of gushing. I'm so glad to have met you and I really appreciate the shout out on your blog. Here's to the both of us tromping that Xenophilia or Xenophobia guy (or whatever his website is called).

  12. vixensden says:

    You survived! And probably became a better person for it. And now you can beat your arch nemises too! Sounds like a win/win

    1. Yes, repeatedly exposing yourself to awkward situations either gives you a nervous breakdown, or makes you stronger. I'll let you know which one wins out, but if I start blogging from the Looney farm, you'll probably figure it out.

  13. Ron says:

    “LET’S ALL GO AROUND THE ROOM AND INTRODUCE OURSELVES.

    AAAAAAACKKK!!!!!! I hate that.”

    OMG…I DO TOO!!!!!

    It's absolute TORTURE for me.

    And your right…people simply copy the other person before them. This is why, no matter how hard it is for me, I like to go first. But what usually happens, is that I end up being LAST.

    Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!

    The only other thing I hate worse, is when companies make you “role play” with other people in the room. OMG…I would sooner stick a pin in my eye!

    But knowing you and your wonderful sense of humor….I bet you ROCKED!

    1. Oh God! Role playing! How sucky is that? We need to shoot the guy who thought that one up.

  14. JunkDrawer says:

    And that there is why I refuse to attend the so-popular Twitter Meetups in my area. The reason I'm a blogger and like to make my thoughts known via a computer is because that doesn't involve talking to people in the same room where there are scary opportunities to be mortified and pitied.

    God. What is wrong with them? Making you say your name and everything? It's criminal, really, and I suggest you stop going to these places. But if you do, I dare you to wear some goat gear and your pannies on the outside. If nothing else, they're sure to remember you at the next mixer.

    1. Ah, yes. The tweetups. I think those are not so much for bloggers (as I have not a lot of them at those things), but more for sales people and entrepreneurs to “network”, which is another word for selling you something.

  15. CatLadyLarew says:

    VIRTUAL wine tasting? For god's sake… if you HAVE to go to a mixer they should at least give you real wine to taste! I think I'm starting to break out in hives at even the suggestion of such an event.

    1. Ha! There were two events. The first was a mixer. The 2nd was a virtual wine tasting, which involved tasting wine and then chatting about it online with a bunch of other people, which could be done from the safety of your own home.

  16. SueAnn says:

    So did you remember to say your name? Did you say “in”? And how about those panTies?? Sound out the “T”? Ha! You probably did fine!! I always wonder at these things what to do about shaking hands. Wine glass in one hand and a snack in the other?? Use your foot??
    Put snack into wine glass? Arg!!
    Hugs
    SueAnn

    1. Shake hands? I always wonder how you're supposed to eat the snack if you have to put it on a plate (and if you don't want to look like a barbarian, I guess you'd better) and you have a glass in your other hand? Do you flip the item off the plate into your mouth? Seriously, we need three hands. But then people would look at us funny if we had 3 hands. Oh, the stress of what to do never ends, does it?

  17. SFChick says:

    Love it! I totally felt nervous and awkward too.

    If I hadn't lost my mind over the past few weeks, I probably never would have gone. I'm so glad I did. It's nice to break out of your comfort zone once in a while.

    1. I'm so glad you did too! And yes, I keep hearing that you should do something that scares you every day.

  18. Um, you looked cool as a cucumber, my friend. I would never have guessed you even thought about discomfort.

    1. Ah, those acting classes have paid off then. 🙂

  19. Jenny says:

    OHO! “My name is Margaret and I hate each and every one of you.” LOLOL how's that for a super-honest opening salvo? I hate mixers and all who attend them. Except you, Margaret.

    And I'll have you know I inhaled scrambled egg into my bronchial passages when I read “pannies” … thanks for the laugh and the pneumonia.

    1. I am going to write that down and use it from now on, just whip out the index card when it's my turn. I mean, nothing beats the truth, right? I'm sure that will really move things along nicely and people won't be able to WAIT to talk to me after announcing that.

    2. MikeWJ at TooManyMornings says:

      Odd story that this comment brings to mind. My brother and sister used to make me say “panties” when I was a kid. Something about the way I said–say?–it made them laugh uncontrollably. To this day, I have no idea what it was, and I'm still very reluctant to say the word, which, frankly, sounds a little dirty to me.

      1. I don't know why, but “panties” sound vaguely sexual enough to make people cringe without knowing why. If they haven't seen my blog before they hesitate coming over because they don't know what to expect. Why does underwear sound so much more innocuous than panties? It's innocent yet provocative.

  20. Okay, so I tried to vote and I can't figure it out, and there are way more than 25 blogs on it. Is this some kind of psych 101 test? If it is it stinks.

    Someone help me please.

    1. I should have explained it better. All you have to do it click over there, nothing else. As for why there are, in fact, more than 25 blogs on there? I can't explain that.

      1. So by clicking I voted for you? Good, then I voted about a bazillion times
        because I kept checking to make sure I clicked on the right link.

        1. Ha! Well, actually there is a vote limit of 1 click per person per day.

          1. Bummer. I'll just have to go back tomorrow. I checked out those other blogs
            and you really should be #1. Someone actually wrote “alot”.

  21. I'm getting all sweaty just reading about it. Saying our names is hardly the same as giving a speech about some important topic but yet it may as well be to me. And I have one of the most common names in the blogosphere and yet I would still mess it up.

    Should I try to be funny, should I try to sound professional? Should I tell them my nick name, my blog name or my aliases?

    There are just too many things to consider at one of these things. I'm glad you didn't trip or anything, that would have been really sad.

  22. Pricilla says:

    I am a herd animal so crowds don't bother me. Unless, of course it is a crown of mountain lions….

    I am glad you met some people you could talk to. I voted for you

    1. Thanks for the vote, Pricilla!

  23. Christine says:

    Exactly, exactly! Why must we do that whole uncomfortable intro thing…hello? Weren't we just mixing? Besides that, who can remember umpteen names anyway?
    Can you tell I was sort of fetal while reading this?

    1. Ha ha! My fellow fetal comrade! I know everybody has their own neurotic way of trying to get to know people and to be jerked out of a pattern and have the spotlight put on you, even for just a few seconds, throws off what little mojo I have, man.

  24. ReformingGeek says:

    I'm sure you mixed very well. Escargot and wine.

    Next time show up wearing a huge NGIP button. When it's your turn to introduce yourself, just point.

    1. Oh, that….is an excellent idea. Consider it stolen from you.

  25. JT Long says:

    The crazy thing is that you are actually very charming at social gatherings, a natural even.

    1. Aw, thanks, JT. And may I say the same about you! You really know how to command a room. Personally, I do better once I've had a sip or two of wine. And it's really that first “walking in” part that's the hardest.

  26. Jayne says:

    If I could mix easily with a roomful of strangers I wouldn't live inside my computer. We're writers — not talkers. When I was writing for television I always hated pitch meetings where I had to sell my idea. What am I, Bob-freakin'-Barker?

    Best thing to do at these things is to grab a glass AND the whole bottle of wine from the refreshment table and take up position behind a large potted plant.

    1. Yes, wine always seem to help with these things. “Bob freakin' Barker” <– HAHAHA!!!!

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