Monday, March 8, 2010

Cheez Doodle Fingertips

I bet you know someone like her…or maybe YOU are her. The woman who can walk into a room full of strangers and not immediately head for the punchbowl in the corner. Of course, now that we’re growunups instead of eighth graders, there really isn’t a punchbowl in the corner, along with potato chips and onion dip. Instead if you’re lucky, there’s a bar so that at least you can get some liquid fortification to help you during the dreaded cocktail hour (I miss the onion dip).

I just signed up for a mystery writers reception. Amongst the 200+ people in attendance will be editors and agents, as well as fellow authors. Should be a fascinating and fun evening except I never know what to do at these occasions. Put me at a table with a person to my right and a person to my left, and I can figure out how to make conversation that lasts through dessert. But a reception? Everyone seems to already know everybody else and are engaged in meaningful conversation that seems rude to interrupt. Sure I want to meet Mary Higgins Clark, but she’s undoubtedly chatting with Carolyn Reidy, President of Simon and Schuster, her long-time publisher. Do I break in to simultaneously gush about the longevity of Ms. Clark’s career and to beg Ms. Reidy to check out the newest manuscript of Evelyn David?

If I had any guts, I would do just that.

If I had to classify myself as an extrovert or introvert, I’d probably check “none of the above.” With friends and family, I can be the life of the party. But in a large social gathering, whether it’s a professional meeting or even a wedding, I am at sea, looking around for a lifeline of someone to talk to -- but not wanting to be a leech.

I was recounting my worries to fellow writer and Huffington Post contributor, Kate Kelly. She commiserated, but pointed out that she had recently met a well-connected New Yorker at a major event in the city. This lady also confessed that “sometimes I go to these things and know everybody; and sometimes I know no one.” And under those circumstances, she too gets the jitters.

So I ask faithful Stiletto Gang readers: what kind of parties do you prefer? And do you still get the eighth-grade flashbacks of fear that no one will ask you to dance and you’ll be left with Cheez Doodle dust on your hands and a Hawaiian Punch mustache at the end of the evening?

Marian aka the Northern half of Evelyn David

Murder Takes the Cake by Evelyn David
Murder Off the Books by Evelyn David


  1. I'm still definitely in the eighth grade. I hate having to mingle and will come up with truly inventive reasons why I shouldn't have to. Sometimes you get roped into it, though and you just have to gird your loins and do it. When times like that arise I like to plaster a huge smile on my face and pretend like I know what I'm about. People either fall for it or they they walk very carefully around the crazy smiling lady in order not to upset her. It works for me!

  2. I feel like I'm torn between my introverted side (which wants to stay home and write!) and my extroverted side (which loves meeting people and yakking about books). I do know that after a long stretch of promotion, like with The Cougar Club these past six weeks, I start feeling exhausted from public speaking and really crave being a hermit for awhile. It's an interesting balance, and I'm sure one that most authors struggle with. But I'd sure love a cocktail party with the Stiletto Gangers and all the cool people who hang out here! I have a feeling no one would care if we had Cheese Doodle fingertips or something stuck between our teeth! ;-)

  3. Zita -- Thanks for the encouragement and the idea of a big smile to deal with the crowd.

    Susan -- I'll RSVP YES for a cocktail party of Stiletto Gang faithful. Sounds like fun!

  4. I used to be nervous about such situations, but no more. I just grin and talk to everyone. Might as well--good way to meet people.

    As for Mary Higgins Clark, I met her once years ago at a conference that was in a rather primitive place much like a summer camp. She was dressed beautifully all the time, while the rest of us were in more comfortable clothes. About four or five years ago I saw her again at an Edgar week cocktail party, maybe the same one being referred to here. I went up to her and talked about that conference, she acted like she remembered me (which I'm sure she didn't) and introduced me to her new husband.

    And yes, there were agents and publishers were there, but no one had on a name tag stating who they were--so I had no idea who was who.


  5. Marian: You should know better than anyone how I am, considering I stayed glued to your side at Malice (my first) last year. I consider myself an extrovert and as my husband is quick to point out, "could talk a dog off a meat wagon." But inside, I'm still 12 and wearing hand-me-down jeans with a bad haircut and braces. I'm glad to hear others feel the same way, but why is it that we only think it's us? Maggie