Who’s Afraid of Five Minutes?


Can’t stop laughing. Enveloped in smoke, I maneuver through the crowd. Nourishment and refreshment are necessities if I’m to last for the long haul.

The air is rife with quips and guffaws. If I bother to pause, some of the murmuring will coalesce and become real conversation. Since I am neither a meteorologist nor a physician, I’m going to pass up the opportunity to discuss the weather or current ailments. The only observations I could offer would be banal and I have no desire to fall any lower on any social scale, if the scaling was judged by banter.

Wanting to walk with purpose toward the dizzying array of foods I can’t pronounce, I quickly feel I’m wading through a swollen river. Each step is slow. I have to struggle to keep my bearings with the wall of humanity I must pass through.

I can’t feel my feet until I register the pain of someone stepping on them. I danced too long. With abandon. Without a thought. The only truly glorious time I’ve spent tonight was dancing. If dancing is truly like sex, I’ve made love to a whole room of strangers. And at least some of us are sated.

Finally reaching the cocktail party groaning board, I help myself to some morsels and turn to survey the room. Aside from a pseudo-flashback (an instance where I didn’t experience a scene but saw it in a movie so it felt familiar) recalling a party scene in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” I feel as though I’m visiting another planet. Who are most of these people? Are there occupancy laws being broken? Is the host a modern Caligula? How did I get here?

Before I start singing Talking Heads songs, I decide to try conversing with some other guests. But other than remarking on anthropological observations on the throng in front of me, I can’t think of a single subject worthy of small talk. So I smile and eat and drink some more.

Aside from some vague notion of my presence being important for business, I forget myself, as in my actual identity, for a bit and just bounce around the room like a giggling, tipsy pinball badly in need of social interaction. Part of my brain just won’t shut off and I register the fact that this night is not all meaningless; each experience outside one’s comfort zone is supposed to aid in growth of some kind. I’m just not sure how eating fancy-schmancy h’ors d’oeuvres, drinking until a future headache is assured, grinding anonymously with another body, and worst of all, enduring and perpetuating small talk- how does one learn or grow from these things? Are there lessons to be gleaned from adolescent discomfort even in adulthood?

When I look at the clock, I see that only five minutes have passed since I crossed the room. Another hour at least then, for appearances sake, and then I can retire to my own humble abode. It may be too quiet sometimes. It may lack the quality of food choices. But I make more sense to myself there. I’ll pop in a movie or maybe read a book. Anything to escape and erase this night.

Before diving back into the fray, I have the thought that I’m most likely not alone with my antisocial thoughts, even at this party. There’s no way to know for certain, but I would wager there are others as desperate as myself to get out of this stifling circus. If only there were socially appropriate signals that we could give each other. If I could come up with a solution, I’d be the pied piper of outcasts and we’d all have smoother sailing.

But then I’d have another social group to navigate. I may as well wave my silent white flag and dig in. It’s gonna be a long night.


2 thoughts on “Who’s Afraid of Five Minutes?

Add yours

  1. totally identify with your awkwardness in this piece. love ur writing style. would love to know what you think of mine. i’ve only just started posting my shorter poems on tumbir under- sintax24. but would love to have you read some of my prose.
    being a bit of a troglodyte when it comes to technology, i’m blown away by how well ur site is set up.
    read some of ur other stuff… ur by far the best writer i’ve come across in my tumbir travels thus far. keep rummaging.
    Harry Kilner


    1. Well aren’t you just too nice for words! Thanks so much, Harry. I will check out your Tumblr site and maybe we’ll cross virtual paths. Always open to comments, ideas, and ego boosts!


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