Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Talkin' Chive

I've mentioned before that occasionally I have a touch of social anxiety. Okay, not even occasionally. Often. I'm not really into parties and the like because that requires me to, you know, socialize. I know, I know, to you I seem like a glamorous, jet-setting social whirlwind but really I mostly enjoy talking to the television when I'm cussing out the moms on Toddlers & Tiaras or watching another season of some housewives somewhere, arguing with each other.

What happens when I get social anxiety is I become hyper aware of everything. What I say, how long it takes the other person to respond, it's almost like being stoned - if that helps you relate. Sometimes I'll be saying a sentence to someone and my brain is so tripped out on the mechanics of socialization that I forget what I'm saying. Which, you know, makes for excellent conversation. NOT.

Every 4th of July Serge's brother Dave and his girlfriend Christine have a huge party in their backyard. HUGE. This ain't their first rodeo in the country, y'all. They moved here from Brooklyn three(ish) years ago. They have three goats, a huge garden, Dave even wins local pie contests. Everyone from everywhere comes to their all day and half the night party, including a bunch of fans of Marah, their band (that's Dave and Christine there with the cigarettes). So, generally speaking, the party is full of an eclectic mix of people, many of whom you don't know. Which can be fun, if you're into that kind of thing. And I'm really trying to be into that kind of thing. I don't want to be an anti-social asshole forever, man. I want my kids to grow up around parties and laughter and fun. Not mom and dad eating dinner in front of the TV.

This year I was determined to socialize, get to know folks and have a good time. Be neighborly and such. Except it's hard to have a good time when you're spending your day trying to keep Hank The Tank filled with formula and a curious toddler from getting head-butted by an annoyed goat. But Serge and I took shifts and were doing our best. We brought over Henry's playpen, his bouncy chair - it looked like a goddamned Babies-R-Us display down at the shade tent under which we'd set up family shop.

Serge is off corralling Violet somewhere and this local guy, a guy who brews the most excellent beer for the Elk Creek Cafe, a joint a few valleys over, pulls up a chair and begins to chat with me. Now, I really like this guy - Serge does too. And I hadn't had a chance to talk to his wife. They met in high school, have been married for twenty years, just a really cool couple.

I'm talking and asking questions and laughing and they're answering and at one point one of them even said "I don't think anyone's ever asked us that question before." I'd asked them if they remember the first moment they saw each other in high school.

There I am, socializing, thinking Hey! I'm doing this! I'm having a great conversation, I'm enjoying myself. I even asked them a question no one has ever asked. These guys are great. See! It's not so bad! Our conversation ends and I head proudly down a little trail that leads down to the river to find Serge and Violet so I can tell Serge what a top-notch, social, woman of the country I am. Within minutes I see them wandering through tall grass, holding hands and talking about the flowers.

My beautiful family, I think. What a great time.

Carrying Henry, I walk toward Serge and Violet, waving. "Mommy! Mommy!" Violet shouts and runs toward me. I smile and grin at Serge as we reach each other. It's almost like a scene out of movie, I think.

Almost, but not quite.

"You have a giant chive stuck in your front teeth." He says.

"WHAT? Tell me you're kidding. I just spent the last hour talking to Tim and his wife and I thought we'd had a great conversation."
"Shame. They were probably just looking at the chive the whole time because girl, you been talkin' some serious chive."

I pull off my sunglasses and bare my teeth at the lenses. Yup. Huge chunk of pepper parked right between my front teeth. Serge calls any food item stuck in teeth a chive. I don't know why. You can have a kernel of corn or a whole cob jammed up there in your choppers and he'll still tell you you've got a chive stuck in your teeth.

"Damn. Here I was thinking I was doing so well, such a fabulous conversationalist and I had a giant pepper chunk there the whole time."

"Talkin' chive." Serge adds.

"Yeah." I sigh. "Talkin' chive."

Reader Comments (16)

Eh, whatever. We all get chives. I find it really annoying though if people keep talking to me, with said chive stuck in my teeth, without letting me know.
Because I WILL eventually discover that chive, or someone else points it out - and then all I can think is: they stared at that bright green thing the whole time without letting me know - huh? Too socially awkward to give me a quick hint...?

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra

It's always like that, yes? Just when you think you had an intelligent conversation, it's a chive or a an uncontrollable fart, or the worst of all, a spackling of spittle arcing from your mouth to their clean, white shirt collar.

Kudos for making it out of the bathroom though, that's usally where I get stuck. No chives there and all farts are welcome.

Ha! First, I looooove that Uncle Dave enters (and wins!) pie contests. Second, your new life sounds so wonderful.

The chive thing reminds me (oh god, I'm about to become one of THOSE posters) of the time I was talking to someone I didn't know and he kept mumbling something, rather pointedly, to me. I kept saying "Excuse me? What? Huh?" until he was forced to all but bellow "XYZ! Examine your zipper!!!" Seriously, what kind of grown man says "XYZ"???

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkate

Love it!

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

I just did the same thing the other day. I was at a family thing talking to two of my brothers, one of whom I only see very rarely, and I was talking and laughing and having a great time when another brother walked up (I have four) and told me I had something black stuck in my teeth. I gave my other brothers a hard time about not telling me and the one I hardly ever see said "How was I supposed to know that's not there all the time?" Yeah he's a funny guy. But at least you were out there being social! I have horrible social anxiety too, and having a good conversation with people I don't know is a very rare thing.

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth B

It's just your chive talkin'. You're telling me lies, yeah.
Chive talkin', you wear a disguise.
Chive talkin', so misunderstood, yeah.
Chive talkin', you’re really no good.

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCharity

I'm sorry but that is hilarious! I wonder why they didn't tell you that you had crap stuck in your teeth? That is weird to me.

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney K.

:) Food in the teeth. That's something I have been more concerned about lately since I can't see close up without glasses. I would like to say don't you be letting a little pepper tooth distract you from basking in the social sunshine but i get how that feels. Still those people are probably just so tickled that you..YOU, of all people, found THEM interesting and everything. Oh, they're probably still talking about it today. Or maybe they are having a laugh over it at night. Singing Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band and laughing. Who knows? Anyway, seriously I have the same problem,well that along with undiagnosed ADD. It's like I become distracted by whatever is in my direct vision while I am talking to someone. I try not to say anything about the beautiful color of paint on the wall or the sunset or whatever is going on back there...and try to give just the right amount of eye contact so as not to be staring AT the person NOR the background lest the person suddenly look over his shoulder to see what I am looking at. Then there is the problem of NEEDING to know who everyone is and HOW they are related to each other at this here gathering, and how to break AWAY from this conversation and...was that MY spit flying out of my mouth and what were we talking about? So...this is funny. Nice to push yourself but just take it easy. Everyone has their comfort zone and various moods and times. Thanks for sharing this story. You crack me up.

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergina

I laughed SO hard! No offense, but I knew something like this was bound to happen. Love you guys!!!

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterApril

I was convinced this was going to end with some sort of breast-leaking incident, so from where I'm sitting you got off easy ;)

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKate

You DID have an intelligent conversation and you DID get past your social anxiety. Yeah, you had a chive in your teeth, but so what. It happens. Now you, Serge, and the new couple can all laugh about it together. You've formed a friendship, your first in Green Acres.

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarole

Jesus... for some reason this made me laugh so hard, I cried. Love how Serge calls it ~chive~.

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I thought you were going to say you realized you'd already asked them the same question 60 seconds before. That's what happens to me when I'm anxiety-filled and minding kidlets - the words used by myself and others get lost in the distraction.

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErin

@ Carole - Serge and I had an entire conversation about the fact that if the conversation was good enough, it could've flipped the chive effect and instead of them thinking about a giant chunk in my teeth every time they think of me, they might just remember the good conversation.

Good conversation = a chive flipper.

July 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterMonica

I'm sorry--I missed why they talked to you for an hour or whatever and didn't TELL you there was something caught in your teeth. I would never let someone walk around like that all night.

July 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMT

Chive flipper!

July 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGina

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