Friendly Reading

I wouldn’t call myself a “social butterfly” by any stretch of the imagination.  I’m not even someone that likes to be around lots of people or have lots of people in my space.  I’m really shy, which comes off as snobby.  I hate inviting people places or to events because the thought of being rejected absolutely mortifies me.  Not only that, but I hate feeling uncomfortable, and there is nothing in the world more awkward than meaningless small talk.

Given all this it was hard to understand why one of my biggest concerns about being married was that I wouldn’t be able to host “large” gatherings in our home.  I was really concerned that Mark, given his introverted nature, would not want to open his our home to essential strangers for whatever theme (I love theme parties) struck my fancy…

Marie:  So I was thinking… (long pause that indicated I wanted him to ask me what I was thinking)

10 minutes, no response and a pee break later…

Marie:  Yeah, I was thinking…. Mark? You awake?
Mark:  Yeah, what’s up?
Marie:  I was thinking…. (C’mon, Dude! Play along!  Ask me what I’m thinking!)

Another bathroom break and a Mark and Nala wrestling match…

Marie:  Listen, Little Dude!  I want to have a book club dinner!  Jenn said that The Alchemist was a great book, and I think we should do it… (Please, God, don’t say ‘no’, I really don’t want to hate you…)
Mark:  Sounds like a good idea.

Holy crap.  He was down for the cause!

I got on Facebook and invited my friend list and then waited for the response…

People were saying yes!  And seemed excited about it! 

Dates were set, and I prepared for our first book club dinner and the first time Mark and I would host a gathering as a married couple… the pressure was on!

Marie:  You don’t have to come.

That’s right.  Our first hosted as a married couple event and I was dis-inviting my husband.  I suck at marriage.

Marie:  So far there are only girls coming, and I have very little hope any guys will be there.  I don’t want you to feel like you have to be there.  I am kind, and I grant you freedom from Estrogen Fest ’08… you are dismissed from the throne room, now…
Mark:  Thanks, I’ll keep it in mind, but I think I’ll be ok.
Marie:  Ok, but if it gets awkward or weird or like you want to shoot yourself, please know that I will not be upset that you didn’t play host with me… I. completely. understand. 

Sure enough, only girls showed up, Rachel, Shelly and Veda.  And like the three wise men, each came bearing gifts.  Rachel with the delectable brownies, Shelly with a beautiful pumpkin pie, and Veda with her sparkling wit and personality. 

Despite extremely high levels of girliness, Mark (and Nala) stuck around.  Which I was so thankful for.  I needed the support.  I really didn’t know how the night was going to go.  I had never held a book discussion before.  I found discussion questions online and printed copies for everyone. 

I wasn’t sure how this was not going to feel like some weird homework assignment.  Were we going to stay “on topic” or were we going to spend the entire night sharing the pieces of gossip we knew about former mutual friends?  Would anyone talk?  Because I sure as heck wasn’t! (that was a joke, I was willing to sacrifice my heart for the greater good of the group)

As we read the first question I braced myself for complete silent awkwardness…

What was I hearing?  Conversation?  About past dreams and personal legends?  Discussion about whether dreams are meant to be fulfilled or merely dreamed about?

Holy cow!  There I was in the middle of a completely real and legitimate book club discussion.

It. was. awesome.

I felt so almost grown up.

After a couple of hours of building new friendships (Mark and Shelly are brain twins) and sharing life philosophies (Rachel’s “E.A.W.O.” and Veda’s “One Love” and flash of the peace sign positivity), the night came to an end and everyone went home.

Then my favorite part of the night happened. 

In pre-marital counseling our counselor said that her favorite part about hosting a dinner party was cleaning up afterwards with her husband.  They enjoyed the peaceful time spent together absorbing all of the night’s activities.

And that’s what Mark and I got to do (without the clean up… because we’re lazy).  We talked about what we heard and said.  Who we hoped might show up next time.  How it felt like church, or how we thought church could feel like.  We just soaked up the night’s event.

We even decided on the next book!  Nicholas Spark’s Message in a Bottle.  It’s supposed to be romantic and gushy, so we’ll see how this goes.  However, I’m pretty sure that with some great dessert and some fun conversation we could enjoy pretty much anything!



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