Hold on just a second there — is this really what I think it is? Am I…? Did that just…? Holy smokes, I think it is! I can’t believe this is really happening: I’m mingling!

That’s right: I’m carrying on a casual conversation with people I’ve never met before! A whole group of complete and utter strangers! Just walked right up to them and by some miracle seamlessly wove into their conversation! Jesus, would you check that out: they’re actually listening to what I’m saying and generally seem to appreciate it! I’m making good eye contact with all of them and not displaying even the slightest hint of panic! Hell, I might even go ahead and chip in a few more words here and there — look at that! Nobody seems to mind me talking at all!

Oh my god, this is too good to be true! I’m actually participating in this exchange! I’m tossing off some witty comments, asking questions, and sharing legitimately interesting bits of information about myself!

This is unbelievable! Look at me go!

It really isn’t so bad once you get going, is it? I’m just standing here laughing and chit-chatting with the best of them, as if having engaging yet lighthearted small talk is something I do all the time! I’m genuinely adding something to this conversation and no one is actively trying to look away from me or openly question why I’m standing here! It’s as if they don’t mind my presence at all, like they’re not going to roll their eyes and laugh about me the second I walk away!

Man, I’m killing it! No lulls or awkward silences over here! Just a bunch of newly-acquainted, expert conversationalists getting to enjoy the pleasure of one another’s company. Not a single one of us is tempted to just stand in the corner and stare into the empty void at the bottom of our drinks. Why, I was just talking with my new pal Kevin here — whose name I remember — and realized that we’re from neighboring towns, and wouldn’t you know it, we know some of the same people! I think I might have had a class with his cousin! Are you fucking kidding me? I could keep this going for hours!

This is amazing!

Holy crap, I think I might even be enjoying this! No, really, I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of it! I am a funny, charming, confident adult who isn’t afraid of talking to people. I like attending various social gatherings and drinking appropriate amounts of alcohol, and I definitely don’t spend time agonizing over every single thing I say and do when in the presence of people I’ve just met. Take that, Kara’s baby shower!

Wait, what was that? What just happened? Did I say something wrong? No. No, no, no. Oh my god, maybe I went too far with that last comment. What did I even say? Probably something stupid. I knew I shouldn’t have laughed so hard at that joke. Maybe I didn’t laugh enough? Maybe they think I didn’t get it? Or maybe they knew I didn’t get it? Oh no, I’m losing them!

Oh God, the silence! No one’s saying anything! Christ, now Kevin’s leaving to go get another drink! What am I supposed to do, try and see if I can miraculously whip up some captivating topic of conversation to get something going between me and this other guy? What’s his name, even? I was barely listening to him before when it was the whole group and now it’s just us! Oh God, now we’re both standing here in silence. Dead, unbearable silence. This is going nowhere. One of us just needs to bite the bullet and end this. We both know it. What’s that? Oh, you see someone you need to go over and say hi to? Oh sure, go ahead, it was nice talking to you!

Guess I’ll just stand over here and get to work nervously fidgeting with the tab on this beer can.