As a child I was irrationally afraid of parties. I’d stand on a front porch wearing my party dress and carrying a brightly wrapped gift, terrified that the door would open and I’d be told that the party was “next week” or already over. Often I refused to budge from the car until I saw other kids arriving. Whenever I gave a party, I was always afraid no one would come. Neither thing ever happened—until recently.
Last week I threw myself a “coming-out” party. Since July I have been working to create a website introducing myself to the world as a writer. On Monday, October 22, I sent out an email with a link to my site and a brief survey through an online service called “Survey Monkey.” I invited 57 people to my soft-launch coming out party.
The weekend before the soft-launch I was suddenly struck with my old fear of parties— manifesting as stage fright. What was I thinking?! Here I was—sharing private thoughts and experiences that I’ve shared with so few! I was terrified of feeling naked and exposed—and afraid no one would show up. Sunday night I had a full-blown panic-attack. I paced about sweating, seriously considering calling it off. But, on Monday, I pulled myself together, bravely launched, and started waiting for responses.
That day I got a phone call from my sister-in-law, three emails, and two new people started following me on Twitter (which I’ve yet to master!). Survey Monkey reported 6 responses on Monday. Tuesday, I had 8 more survey responses and another email. I continued to wait, obsessively checking my email at every opportunity. After Tuesday, I got only “crickets and tumbleweeds,” as my web designer would say. Thursday, I called one of my best friends to ask what she thought of my website.
“It’s wonderful!” She said. “I love it.”
“Great,” I said. “Did you take the survey?”
“No,” she admitted. “I was afraid of the monkey.”
Afraid of the monkey?! Doesn’t the promise of monkeys almost guarantee a good time will be had by all? But some people are afraid of monkeys and lots of people are afraid of surveys—so I can blame “Fear of Survey Monkey” for my lack of responses—instead of imagining that people were at a loss as to how to let me down easy.
Still, I worry that readers might find me too serious. Maybe more people will view my site and read my blog if they don’t think it’s going to be just one somber story after another. Who needs that in these very scary times? I rarely intentionally write funny, it usually just slips out—especially when I let myself ramble—like I’m doing right now.
I tend toward dark humor, which has sometimes been described as “mean” or “annoying.” My mother had a wicked sense of humor that she learned from her mother and that my brother and I learned from her. The three of us often laughed at totally inappropriate times—like when Daddy came home and solemnly reported that a helicopter carrying Santa Claus had crashed in the parking lot of the local shopping center. My son Jeff and I have carried on the family tradition of sometimes making other people miserable while we cry in helpless laughter.
The bottom line is that I love to laugh and I love whatever and whoever makes me laugh. Laughter is my go-to, and my best friends are those people with whom I’m able to laugh the most.
There were some stragglers to my party—all in all I had about 20 attendees, making for a nice cozy gathering! Thank you all for accepting my invitation! This Thursday, November 1st, I am officially launching my website. There won’t be surveys, but on occasion there will be monkeys.
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