04 August 2009

Embarrassing BlogHer Moment #3

My dear BlogHer roommate Suzanne was kind enough to invite me out to pizza dinner with a big group of people, including her parents.

I told Suzanne I was skeptical of Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, since I am a fan of the thin-crust NY-style pie.

Suzanne arranged the logistics - 11 of us would walk the mile down to Geno's East and meet her folks there, where we would all partake of the glories of Chicago pizza. We had a pleasant stroll through Chicago's Magnificent Mile, chatting and enjoying the perfect weather.

Then we got to Geno's. It is one of those "You have to go there while you are in Chicago" kind of places, and there were at least 100 people standing in line. Suzanne's mother was waiting patiently for us to arrive, and her father not-so patiently (he is a clone of my dad, I swear).

Upon seeing the crowd, I immediately had a flashback to a horrifying 3-hour meal I had spent trapped in the Pope room at a Buca di Beppo, wedged between two of my ex-BFs relatives that I barely knew, screaming pleasantries above the din and eating disgusting, greasy (albeit NY-style) pizza.

I said I needed to use the bathroom and when I walked in, it got even worse. Geno's East is painted black inside, and covered with visual noise of graffiti and it was hot and crowded and LOUD.

Suddenly the past three days of constant sensory stimulation tipped over the edge from fun into *whoop-whoop AAAAUUUUUGAHHHHHH RED ALERT RED ALERT* territory.

I sat on the toilet with my elbows on my knees, thinking about facing that noisy restaurant, pressing my fingertips into my eyeballs, trying not to freak out. Failing. Freaking out. Gasping for air.

My inner introvert came charging out of her closet, and it wasn't pretty.

I finally breathed enough that I thought I could hold it together. I came out of the bathroom after a long, long time. Then I stumbled though the zoo of the restaurant again and went outside to the line.

I walked up to our group and blurted, "Um, I don't think I can do this."

I'm sure my face was all red and blotchy and attractive like it gets when I am upset.

Count Mockula's dear mother grabbed my arm and said gently "Are you ok?"

Oh gah no. That sent me right over the edge. My chin began to tremble and my eyes filled and I started stammering excuses and then everyone said "Oh, it's ok, we understand," and all that kindness and love just made it WORSE. Full-on crying. The ugly cry.

Wiping my eyes on my shirt, I fled down the street alone, taking big gulps of air, simultaneously horrified at my behavior and overjoyed at having escaped Hell.

About 12 blocks later, I was sitting outside at a little wrought-iron table all by myself, sipping French wine and eating a salad topped with marble-sized chunks of blue cheese. Breathing. Relieved.

Here's Liz Rizzo's photo of the dinner. Oooh, scary, right? Oh, I wish I could be normal.


J said...

I remember after my mom died, if anyone was the tiniest bit nice to me, I fell completely apart on the floor. Really. Just kick me in the gut so I can stand it.

Sorry you couldn't hold out long enough for the pizza. I love deep dish. But I haven't read Liz's view yet...that's next.

J said...

Sorry suebob, that pizza looks awesome. I wish you had been able to go for a nice long walk around the block while they stood in line, and gone back to enjoy. However, I AM glad that you were able to go and enjoy your nice glass of wine and salad. That's awesome.

Anonymous said...

aawww, I'm sorry.

For me it's auditory. When too many people are arguing too loudly in a small or very echo-y place, I have recently begun to melt down. I will put my fingers in my ears and start shushing. If it gets really bad, I have to leave. I totally embarrassed myself at work that way not long ago.

Deodand said...

I am also that way about sound. There's a frequency in combined voices that drives me 'round the bend.

And I think I would find BlogHer a touch overstimulating.

whall said...

At first I misread this as a gastrointestinal problem and felt so bad for you, elbows on knees, yada yada.

I wish it had been that simple.

Grace said...

We are so the same person in some ways. That is EXACTLY something that would (and, in fact, has) happened to me. You do so well in keeping your inner very very introverted self occupied and quiet for days, and then all of a sudden she's OUT and she's PISSED. It is embarrassing, for sure. But nobody will hold it against you, and I, for one, completely understand.

Grace said...

We are so the same person in some ways. That is EXACTLY something that would (and, in fact, has) happened to me. You do so well in keeping your inner very very introverted self occupied and quiet for days, and then all of a sudden she's OUT and she's PISSED. It is embarrassing, for sure. But nobody will hold it against you, and I, for one, completely understand.

Glennis said...

I think that restaurant would affect me the same way. Good you had your moment. I'd join you at the little table with the wine and the salad.

meno said...

I think you made the right decision, just not quite soon enough.

Deep dish pizza can be pretty good though. We ate twice at Pizza Due last time i was in Chicago. But we went early and in a small group.

Danielle said...

I have never commented on a blog.


I wouldn't have been able to do it either -- and at the least sign of kindness to me overwhelming anxiety, would ALSO have burst into tears -- and then would have had ugly crying and the indignity of runny mascara face to boot (waterproof they say ... apparently, my tears have the ability to unwaterproof ANYTHING. If only THIS were a marketable skill...)

People will probably disagree with this -- but good for you for going someplace you could enjoy!

apathy lounge said...

Crowds? Screaming to be heard while eating? I'd freak out, too.

mar said...

i'm pretty introverted too & it was sooo fine that night. we would've loved to sit with you there & i only chatted with the people immediately next to me since i was on the inside of the booth to avoid the yelling. as i told suzanne, i kinda felt it coming on, but i think we all really understood. i know i did. s has a difficult time getting why i'm so reclusive some times & i had a moment after we got back where he said "i understand" & i told him no, he didn't, not really which he agreed. he knows i'm like that but he doesn't understand it all because he's so chatty with everyone.

the new girl said...

Normal is overrated.

Eating alone is often underrated.

Suzanne said...

I hate making people I like cry, so if this situation ever arises again, I will be a big bitch about it, sigh loudly, roll my eyes, and mutter about how some people just don't appreciate the efforts I make to get people pizza. Harumph.

Can't stop laughing at your description of my parents, though. And we did miss you. Harumph!

Count Mockula said...

You shouldn't be embarrassed about this one. Perfectly understandable. We missed you, but I'm glad we caught up at breakfast the next morning.

Green-Eyed Momster said...

I would have been sipping wine and eating a salad with you too!

I totally have a lot of posts of yours to catch up on!


Project Christopher said...

I wish so hard that I hadn't been migraine attacked. I so missed meeting you...

But as a Chicagoan:
1. don't feel bad. Pizza is Pizza is Pizza. Gino's east downtown is just what you said, what everyone outside of Chicago thinks they HAVE to do when in Chicago.
2. you didn't have an attack, the greater common sense of Chicago natives were tuning in to your aura telling you "Get out of the tourist trap, do your thing on a sidewalk like we all do in the summer! Don't get caught in a black room with people who don't know Chicago neighborhoods from a hole in the ground!" (and you listened!)

for anyone visiting Chicago in the future, if you REALLY want to experience Chicago... get out of the "Magnificent Mile" area and go into the neighborhoods. The BEST restaurants are the little holes in the wall where WE, the residents, go. That clap trap on the strip downtown is just for tourists who don't know better.

(sorry, just one Chicagoan's opinion)

Glad you're feeling better though SueBob!

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

I love it that you were wise and brave enough in the moment to make the right choice for you.

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