Party animals

At people’s parties
i go out for air
not snobbish
just at a loss, if you please,
for clever conversation
my two cents has not risen
with the inflation rate
You’re Too Quiet
i am told
Smile more
i know…i bring it on myself
sitting in some dim corner
sipping something
i am the subject of queer backward glances
and occasional snorts of derision

on freer days
away from forced bonhomie,
i may be, say, in a waiting room.
no one speaks
they are bent on their devices
or they are too old and sad and want to go home.
i remember I’m Too Quiet,
so i speak to a woman who sits alone.
i remark about the long wait.
then, i am sorry, i have disturbed her.
she does not acknowledge.
i am mortified.
i wonder what she is like
at parties.
from the room’s far end,
another has seen
this failed exchange.
she actually sees me,
shakes her head.
i feel better now.

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