The Wallflower Social Club was created on the basis of aiding social cripples in gaining some vestige of confidence in their everyday communication skills. Its target audience consists of reclusive folks that fail to blend into social functions no matter how hard they try, no matter how bad (or great) the jokes they make, no matter how interesting their personalities can be, no matter how long they pretend to be engaged with their phones at social events. Most of the members of this club possess the desire to be sufficiently commanding without drawing too much attention upon themselves.
It was at the Wallflower Social Club that I met my fellow contenders.
There was a palpable slyness to these fellow wallflowers that was positively delectable. Awkward Joes and Bashful Susans, the type of individuals that were blessed in a multitude of wonderful things that did not involve great body language as a requisite but whose eyes were nevertheless alive with a strange keenness, a rare curiosity to find amongst everyday folk.
I noted upon my first visit at the Wallflower Social Club that none of the attendees were in possession of an alarming need to draw attention upon themselves and found this to be both refreshing yet highly impractical at the same time. There was a certain relief to this. It felt very sharp and alive.
In retrospect, the whole situation reminded me of birthday parties as a child. How, in the atmosphere of cheer and colorful balloons and Musical Chairs and screaming children, there would always be the presence of a child uncomfortably and glaringly excluded from the festivities, fiddling away in a corner trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. The image proved to be very touching to me. It reminded me of my one true self from birth. The whole room was filled with people like that.
The group at the Social Wallflower Club itself was incredibly small, consisting of ten or so folks, and an instructor who possessed enough panache to handle a group of socially awkward people. The instructor was a woman in her forties who looked like she would teach meditation techniques she learned from her yoga classes and who would be on anti-depressants (this all later proved to be very true). She was shapely and had frizzy hair, much like Julia Roberts in the 90s. There was an openness to her that was very American in its form.
It was also at the Wallflower Social Club that I met Joseph.
It was when we were scooping punch into our respective red, plastic cups that I noticed his presence. He was awaiting his turn, and I noted the ‘HELLO, MY NAME IS…’ sticker on his grey pullover, the ‘Joseph’ written with perhaps the wrong choice of pen as the ink had smeared unforgivingly. His penmanship reflected elegant handwriting nonetheless. Admittedly, this had been what had attracted me to observe him better. There was just something in the way he looped his letters.
There was just something in the way he looped his letters.
His hair stuck out at strange angles and he had a tired look on his face, as if he had been up the night before contemplating life a bit longer than he had intended to, as if he was suffering from a hangover, or perhaps the aftermath of a thudding headache inspired by the complexities of running daily work errands. He had a five o’clock shadow on his face. His sleeves were rolled up. He smelled like despair and sleep and cheap, thin coffee. I wanted to comb his hair.
He seemed befuddled by his presence there, as if he had somehow dropped into a hole in the ground to be brought into the other side of the world into the world’s most strangest club.
I smiled at him. At that point in my life, I had the misleading interest to be very tender in everything that I did, and he looked like he needed some tender care. I wanted to be convinced that gentility would alleviate the roughing redness of the world, that I had some say with even the littlest influence of kindness. I wanted to be accommodating in the hope that it would single out my growing frustrations with the discouraging world. It was very sweet but not very smart.
“Would you like a smoke?” I asked.
The things he shared:
- He grew with the adamant desire to be clear-eyed and heavy-handed, to not be confined by the safety of a town and by the timely desires it offered.
- He made it a habit to not only do what was easy, but to do what was right. This did not come naturally because the community he lived in had the natural habit of cutting corners wherever they could. This initially discouraged his spirit, inspired in him a desire to be lazy. But he managed to curb this because he also wanted to know what could be done.
- He practiced the elasticity of this determination by running for an hour every night. The set schedule made him rigid in his ways, and he did not have a single ounce of fat on him either. He was a lean, mean machine who did not feel outrageously sad or outrageously happy and this worked.
- He saw no need for fiddling away too much time on refreshing social pages.
- He had no qualms about ruining books, sharing books, and/or stealing books.
- He attended parties, he had enough social graces within him to be able to make the occasional good joke, he attracted women, and not always the same type of women either. He did not truly belong at the Social Wallflower Club. He was a phony. It was all a guise, a scam. This was part of his personal study done out of personal needs.
- He learned how to properly move to music because of a girl.