Woo-hoo: confessions of a party pooper

I, for one, am glad it’s over – “it” being New Year’s Eve.

When I consider the prospect of being in a place like Times Square to celebrate with thousands of people (anything over 200 people is arbitrary – it’s simply too many folks in the same place at the same time), I … well, let’s just say I never have really considered it, and I likely never will.

Where I grew up, we would say “gag a maggot” for things that were particularly repulsive. Times Square on New Year’s Eve? Gag a maggot.

By far, New Year’s Eve is the biggest, most extravagant party in American culture. My hometown has its own special way of ringing in the new year – we drop an acorn. I think I stayed for the acorn drop once. That was enough.

On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, my Facebook news feed was full of comments by friends and family who felt “lame” because they fell asleep early or else didn’t party with the big crowds, choosing instead to celebrate (or not) at home in a cozy setting. I just want to say to those dear people, “Don’t believe the hype. You are still cool, even if you didn’t go out into the throngs of revelers. And 2014 came, just the same.”

I am one of those (seemingly few) Americans who was born without the party gene. I don’t care for small talk. Drunken people annoy me. I adore getting all dressed up, being in beautiful places and seeing beautiful people, and I love to talk to someone – maybe a couple of people – in that setting, but I like meaningful conversation, or at least witty. I am perfectly fine with this understanding of myself. However, it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I’m sure someone of my type was labeled the original “party pooper.” The way our culture defines celebrations, there is little or no room for an introvert such as myself. I’m actually fine with that, too. The problem is, I haven’t settled on a redefinition of “celebrate” … or “fun” for that matter … that can fill the gap between the cultural definition of a celebration and that of a more intimate celebrant like me.

Of course, that’s part of the hype, too. I shouldn’t feel as though I need to “fix” anything since I believe there is nothing wrong with people like me. I am intensely uncomfortable in crowds and I deeply desire intimate conversation with people who have good sense. (Don’t miss the inference.) I suppose the odd thing is that, as a performer, I do not mind crowds one bit while I’m on-stage. There’s enough distance and opportunity for an emotional connection there that I’m totally fine in that context. Same thing goes for events that I’m in charge of or otherwise leading. That’s an analysis for another article, though.

For years, nothing convinced me more quickly that I need ongoing therapy than a large, celebratory gathering. Oh, I have always attended special celebrations for family and friends because I have a very strong sense of obligation and loyalty to be present for the people I love. I simply learned to go with both an entrance and an exit plan. Honestly, since I learned how to navigate crowded celebrations, most people would never guess how draining and un-wonderful such things can be for me. That doesn’t mean I’m being fake, because I’m not. If I’m laughing and talking, then I’m genuinely enjoying the moment. (Of course, I could be genuinely enjoying the moment while sitting quietly, watching everyone else do whatever they’re doing, too.) If, however, I’m pacing and making strange faces, I’m probably trying to reconfigure the exit plan.

At that point, you might say – as the now-more-famous-than-ever Robertson boys would say – “She gone!” (sic)