Does anyone remember the angst of College mixers? Girls stepped timidly off the bus and walked the gauntlet of gaping, drooling adolescent males with snarky attitudes and lascivious thoughts. The nuns warned us that these dances were ‘occasions of mortal sin’ to which the bolder girls responded: “I hope so, Sister.” We were cautioned to avoid international intrigue–those Roman hands and Russian fingers that led straight to HELL. Most of us tried to pass the evening with minimal humiliation and a brave face. Success was equated to the number of partners one danced with even if they were closer to neanderthals than prince charming. The lucky ones met a decent guy with working brain cells who came calling the next week.
Everyone pitied the poor wallflowers who huddled on the sidelines wearing their cloak of invisibility.
These memories cascaded down on me last week when I faced yet another author book-signing. Despite the lively poster and carefully arrayed books, my worst fears materialized: It was college mixer time again, only this time, I was one of the wallflowers, gazing pitifully at each customer who brushed past me, hoping that my dazzling wit would captivate them and sell books; glancing furtively at my watch.
Now I empathize with those girls too shy to successfully navigate the college mixer. They’ve taken their revenge on me by sweeping down the aisles without even offering me a smile. Now I know what they suffered: I am a literary wallflower!