My family holiday celebration reached a new level this year. The Vilda clan, a large Filipino family which I married into 30 years ago, has grown so large that fitting them all into one house is difficult. I counted at least 70 and possibly 75 people at the parties' peak around 8:00 pm on Christmas day. I did my best to stay out of the way; doing so in a crowded house is difficult. I did my best to hide my social anxiety by sitting out of the way in a corner, but this year I needed a little help. Scotch is a wonder drug.
I have several other tools at my disposal, like shooting photos. I find a camera keeps me out of the thick of a crowd, a big camera helps even more. I shot this picture of Shelby while listening to her stories of teenaged angst. She is quite pretty, but far to insecure to realize it yet. Right now she is still young enough to talk freely with her uncle Joe. In another six months I will be lucky to get a smile from her. I’ll have to wait until she hits her early 2os to reengage. It’s a pattern I’ve learned to anticipate over the years. The teen years are so… difficult.
This year I had a Kindle to play with. Escaping into a book may be rude at a party, for me the alternative is taking a walk. I simply cannot stay in a crowded room without something to keep my mind occupied. I’m good with small groups of people. Heck, I’m good as long as I can follow what is going on. As the group grows, my mind goes a little haywire. I need to shut it down or face a very real problem. I hit a point where my mind overloads and then I head for the door as if the house were on fire.
I saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie yesterday. At one point Holmes is in a crowded restaurant waiting for Watson and his fiancé to join him. The scene shows what is happening inside Holmes’ head as he overloads on external stimulus. Whoever put this scene together lives inside my head. It captured how my mind works and how it quickly overloads. I sat upright in my chair in recognition. I pointed at the screen. It was so damn real. My wife patted my arm to calm me down. I slouched back into my chair. Never mind the fat lady munching on bagged candy behind me to the right, or the young woman quietly making out with her boyfriend behind me to the left, or the couple to my left that kept adjusting their seats while talking about their son, or the 34 people who walked in front of me during the movie, or the 5 who walked behind me… it only took 10 minutes to focus my mind on the movie again. Crowds suck. Sherlock Holmes was just ok.