No, They Can't Take That Away From Me

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 15.678% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I was sitting in the parking lot, debating whether to go inside, eaten alive by social anxiety.  I was going to a local poly meeting, where I only knew one person, and crowds scare the fuck out of me.  I’m okay once introduced, which is why I usually do okay at conventions – but the thought of entering that Panera’s and talking to a lot of people I’d never met before terrified me.
I thought about driving home.  I’d done that before.  Going to a place full of new people, sitting in the driveway, then going right back.  It’s a secret only the socially awkward know about – kind of like how sometimes we don’t have a lunch date but don’t want everyone at the office to know what losers we are, so we order drive-through and then sit in the parking lot, eating alone.
My armor.So.  Going home sounded like a good option.  I touched the keys, debating whether to say I couldn’t make it…
…then I saw my hat on the seat next to me.
It’s weird, having a hat.  People treat you differently in a good hat.  Suddenly, you’re more stylish, perhaps a little older, and people say “Sir” more often.  They act as though you have more discerning tastes.  They feel free to throw compliments in your direction – “Nice hat!” “Looking good!”
And donning the hat becomes an act of transformation.  There’s something about cupping it in your palm and then clapping it to your head that says, “Right.  We’re doing this.”  Perhaps it’s all those 1940s movies where the reporter brusquely puts on his hat before headed out to do Business… But in that moment, I understood everything Barney Stinson had ever said by saying “Suit up!”
Clothes make the man.  The hat completes him.  I may not be confident, but under the brim of this straw-weaved chapeau, I can convince others that I am.  And when I put that hat on, I nodded once and strode into Panera’s to meet my group.
It was a fine meeting.  And a fine feeling.

1 Comment

  1. Mishell Baker
    Jun 21, 2012

    I wish I had a magic feather like that for my own social anxiety, which has gotten worse and worse in the past three years. I’m actually slightly better around strangers than around anyone who knows the first thing about me. The convention where we met may be the last one I ever go to, because I have gotten to the point where there is not a single SF convention where I don’t know at least a few people.
    I think the reason for my reverse-anxiety is that I tend to make a very good first impression and then it just all goes downhill from there. Once this happens enough times you come to expect it, even dread it.
    It’s a shame I look stupid in hats. I wonder if there is something equivalent I could try…

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