Tonight the Tattered Thread household hosted the monthly euchre party. The concept is a relatively straightforward one: 12 people get together (plus interested spectators) and play euchre, exchanging partners and tables in an intricate dance after every 10 tricks. Four rotations later, a winner is determined based on total points and a small amount of non-existent money changes hands.
What I completely don’t understand is how we manage to get along. If you look at the group on paper, the only real common thread that ties it together is some connection to teaching (all the participants are 1st or 2nd degree friends of Kathy’s) but that thread doesn’t seem to actually come into play very much. There is some amount of low-level “shop talk” but not enough to account for even 10% of the actual interaction. No, somehow if you put 13 people in a room and give them something to do they’ll find a way to entertain themselves together. From a purely logical standpoint I simply can’t fathom it. Even more puzzling to explain is the fact that I manage to participate in it in some positive way but could not for the life of me tell you how. I just do not understand frivolity. I can apparently do it (not all that well mind you) but I just can’t explain it.
Now, it was all fun and games until … the “internet video” screening. I should mention that these get-togethers do have at times a somewhat adult thread running through them. This is natural of course whenever adults get together but sometimes it can run horribly amok. I won’t state which of the many “worldwide internet fad videos” we watched (as a group) at one of our guests suggestion but suffice it to say that it was, by far, the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen. It was personally difficult to resist the temptation to vomit on my own floor. If I’d been standing over someone else’s floor I might not have tried so hard. This is exactly the reason you invite hip young people to your parties. They know all about this… wait a minute… maybe that’s why you DON’T invite… Any rate, no harm done except for the large, brown stain on my eternal human soul.
The one thing I’m not overly thrilled about is the choice of activities. Despite the fact that the party is billed as a ‘euchre party’ the cards actually seem to have very little to do with it. In fact, in the past when we’ve had substitutes for missing players who were actually intent on the game, they were a detriment to the enjoyment of others. Playing cards is really more of an excuse to get together than a reason to do so and while the structure of the game forces a regularly timed mingling, in the end it gets in the way and creates moments of awkwardness. Depending on how the rotation works out, you may end up stuck at a table for 20 minutes with the 3 least compatible people in the room or you may find the people you enjoy the most stranded at a distance for the entire night. This was a much more enjoyable format BEFORE we’d done it a dozen times and got to know each other well.
There is also a bit of a quandary on the topic of alternative party activities. During one of our monthly club meetings we were short of the necessary quorum for the usual game by a significant amount so we played charades instead. This, in my opinion, was an order of magnitude more enjoyable than euchre. Where euchre divided us, charades brought us all together to play and have fun as a unit. What is odd about this is that many people simply refuse to play and I’m puzzled as to why. Technically speaking, being a reserved person I shouldn’t play a game that requires me to get up in front of other people and act the apparent fool but for some reason I enjoy it. It forces me to crack open my shell and let the world see what’s inside. Having brought this up to others though it seems like it’s actually the more outgoing people who refuse to play and I have absolutely NO idea why. You would expect that being in front of people and having their undivided attention should be natural to someone who is extroverted. Several in our group though flatly refuse to even attend if charades is the game of choice. It makes me question the true nature of what it means to be extroverted; why am I, socially clam-like as I am, willing to expose myself to the universe in this way while more outgoing people are not? Is this a universal trade-off that I’ve failed to notice until now?
Even further from the original topic of this post, this makes me question the entire dynamic of friendship and interacting with people. I’ve always viewed extroverted people as open people who are out there to be befriended by anyone. They were, in my mind, always ready to share of themselves and that’s what made them everyone’s friend. Introverts were clams that you had to pry open with a screwdriver. They were hard to get to know and you had to really work at it.
It seems clear to me now though that it’s actually the opposite. Outgoing people put a good face on it, they have a version of themselves that they show to the world and is available to anyone who merely wants to take the time to look. This is not to say that the face you see is fake, it’s certainly them but it’s only a part. To get to the heart, the true self, of an extrovert you have to first dig down past those outward layers. The hardest thing about this process I suspect is knowing when you’ve actually finished. How do you know when you’ve finally gotten to a person’s true feelings? Is it when the office clown suddenly becomes serious? Perhaps when the pious man admits he has doubts? I just don’t know but it’s certainly an adventure trying to find out.
Anyway, it’s officially 1 A.M. and I’ve suddenly realized that this post that took you a whole five minutes to read took me two and a half hours of typing and analysis to generate. I’m not sure I’ve come to any new conclusions except that there are some people I’d like to try to get to the very heart of (but won’t know when I get there). Further, I’m going to nag my wife to schedule a charades party and invite every person I can think of. Then we’ll see who shows up and who doesn’t… Then those of us who do show up can psychoanalyze those who don’t.