Social Approval

God, I love Americans. Even though today I say it with a bit of sarcasm.

I’ve lived in this town for ten years. Didn’t manage to make a single friend who is not a co-worker. And ok, the first six years, I didn’t try. But then I did because it’s my duty to provide a circle of acquaintances to my kid and surround her with people. And please don’t think that my lack of social life stems from an incapacity to be sociable. It stems solely from not needing to socialize. When I want to, I can be personable, chatty, fun and even charming. There are people here who met me in person, and they can confirm.

So I tried and tried. But it was useless. People shunned me at the park and on the playground. They refused to make eye contact and say hi at Klara’s school. Almost nobody showed up for Klara’s birthday party last year who wasn’t a colleague. It was very frustrating.

And then we accidentally ended up at the house of a rich family for a Halloween party. And now all of a sudden people are coming up to me at the playground and start long, engaging conversations. Everybody is RSVPing to this year’s birthday party and everybody is saying hi at school. I’m not imagining a connection because every conversation so far has started with, “Oh, hello! Remember me? We met at Emily’s Halloween party!” These same people met me at a million events at other places but only after the rich Emily signaled approval did I get noticed.

I don’t mind in the least because it’s all for Klara. But I wish somebody told me from the start how this works so I wouldn’t have needed to spend so much time trying to be liked.

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4 thoughts on “Social Approval”

  1. There are people here who met me in person, and they can confirm.

    This is strange verb form for this sentence. It would be clearer/better as: There are people here who have met me in person, and they can confirm.

    It is clear to me that the present perfect is better here, but I am having trouble explaining exactly why.

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    1. After posting this, I realized that the reason for the present perfect here is that without the ‘have’, the sentence suggests that the people will probably never meet you again, whereas with the word ‘have’ it suggests that they quite likely will meet you again.

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  2. There are two things possibly going on here:
    1. Some of the locals are shallow. They associate money with “people I’d like to know.”
    2. By being invited to the party, you have a “seal of approval” from someone they respect, and so they are now interested.
    My mother is a bit of a retired recluse. Most of her associates there were colleagues (most deceased, hence past tense), but she made a few friends in the community that she really liked, partly by working on community projects and partly through a local independent bookstore, which may or may not still exist. For example, she did a history for the local fire company.

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