It could be said that I know enough about body language to be dangerous. That is to say I only know a little bit. I just don’t communicate that way. At least I don’t think I do. Maybe I do it without knowing.
There are many reasons not to be late to a party.
I walked into the room. It was dimly lit but not dark. A few shades darker than warmly lit. People were sitting around in a circle. Some of them were smoking, some were drinking, some were doing both. I was doing nothing. The vibe in the room was that they were having a good time. This was a good party, and now there was something new coming into the mix…me.
A party is an evolving thing – a product of the partiers, their activities and conversations as they come and go. In showing up late to a party you are bringing a new element into something that already exists. Like an animal from the wilderness that happens upon a people-populated area. People typically do not like change. If they are happy with the group the way it is they may look at you with a frown. You stand a chance of not really being accepted into the mix, forced to circle the group instead of being a part of it. They will never tell you this, they just smile politely. I imagine there is a body language clue to this that I can’t pick up on because they all seem to do it in unison. What I can tell you that I see when this happens is that they practically ignore you. You feel invisible.
Or, maybe there are people that like that change and look forward to it.
“This party’s getting stale”, they think to themselves. I let them off the hook with my awkward entrance and attempt to lighten the heavy mood I’ve brought in with humor. Sometimes I try too hard to make people laugh and that comes across even more pathetically than not trying would have.
Whether they like change or not, someone new changes the mood of the room.
My girlfriend had been there for a while. Funny thing is I can read the chemistry of a room when I walk in even though I don’t know much about body language. Its like there is this residual energy that I can see. Its as if the laughter and energetic conversation from a party rises and turns into cloud that you can just barely see.
Her face was flush. She had been laughing, much of which could be credited to the guy sitting next to her. Their mood fell when I showed up. I took a seat almost opposite of them in the circle. I was accepted. Not that it mattered much, the party was about to change again as a few people were leaving.
You can get in late to a party and take advantage of a change in the room as some people are leaving. This way you are not directly to blame for the vibe changing.
I am grateful for this because I was considered a square by these people. I am fairly sure I was. I didn’t drink back then and I’ve never smoked. My saving grace is that I can be witty, and if I manage to pull it off without making it look like I am trying as hard as I am, I consider my presence at the party to be a positive addition.
Despite the wit I have the reputation of being a quiet, funny guy. This is because in groups I only say things that I feel contribute to the group. I am very conscious of not saying anything that would weigh the group down. Sometimes I think something I say is going to lift the mood but it actually backfires. These are the worst.
Shortly after my arrival the guy sitting next to my girlfriend had to leave and go to work. It must suck to have to work overnights. She called me over and I took his former seat. Odd that I didn’t find it warm.
This actually happened to me a second time. Years later, another party. I show up late. This was the kind of thing it was ok to show up late to. People weren’t sitting around in a circle, they were spread out around the house. Some were in the kitchen; some were in the living room Ã¢â‚¬â€œ some were outside on the patio. The older you get the more parties tend to spread out as people are more confident in who they are and don’t need to cluster together in circles of mutual admiration and acceptance.
Walking into something like that you can act like you are just coming from one group to the other. I approached the garage where my wife was talking with another one of the party goers. I was acting like I had just come from the kitchen and as if the revalry there was boring me so I had now come in search of fresh party experience. Real breezy.
As I approached I noticed how close they were standing, this guy and my wife. Toe to toe. He was wearing her like a pair of broken-in blue jeans. An effortless and assuming posture existed between them. They were comfortable with each other like two people who have had a long standing affair.
Boy, did that take the air out of my sails like a strong wind that suddenly stops. The mood kite I was working so hard to project so high dropped like rock as if it didn’t belong in the sky at all.
I wasn’t the only one who noticed this chemistry. The guy’s girlfriend broke up with him that night because she thought he had Ã¢â‚¬Å“hooked-upÃ¢â‚¬Â with that girl. His girlfriend was a nice girl too. She laughed at my jokes.
We still have to see that guy on occasion but whatever chemistry they had is gone now Ã¢â‚¬â€œ at least when I’m around. You never know how I’m going to effect the party.