Celebration: Jessica Stanley

: : Jane spoke about how us introverts celebrate after the party, while Jessica here describes how she doesn’t like parties. I dislike them too. I swear, I didn’t ask them to so perfectly align their guest posts with my own introverted personality! But I promise to try, Jessica. Thanks for such a thoughtful celebration post. Visit Jessica’s blog here : :

When Hila spoke about holding a celebration for her book, my mind immediately leapt to parties. While I feel nothing but excitement for Hila’s immense achievement, I feel precisely the opposite about big social gatherings. Having to raise my voice to ask or answer questions - having to shift my attention to some new person just as a conversation gets interesting - having to meet loads of new people when the ones I already know are just fine? I don’t like any of those things.

Some of my favourite parts of Just Kids were the bits when Patti Smith was getting ready to go out. You always think of her as a huge star, whether on stage or sinking her cheap coffees with Andy Warhol’s crew in Max’s. But her memoir revealed that’s not what she’s like at all.

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“I approached dressing like an extra preparing for a shot in a French New Wave film. I had a few looks, such as a striped boatneck shirt and red throat scarf like Yves Montand in Wages of Fear, a Left Bank beat look with green tights and red ballet slippers, or my take on Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, with her long black sweater, white socks, and black Capezios. Whatever the scenario, I usually needed about ten minutes to get ready.”

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“I felt increasingly out of place in Robert’s social whirl. He escorted me to teas, dinners, and an occasional party. We sat at tables where a single setting had more forks and spoons than needed for a family of five. I could never understand why I had to engage in discussions with people I didn’t know. I just sat in a state of internal misery waiting for the next course. No one seemed as impatient as I.”

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“I didn’t dress properly, I was awkward in their company if not bored, and I spent more time milling around in the kitchen than gossiping at the table.”

Knowing someone you admire feels the same way as you do really takes the sting out.

Then last week I listened to a wonderful speech given by the screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, who wrote Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and won an Oscar for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He quoted e.e. cummings: ‘To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.’

Of course, “be yourself,” that’s what everyone says. What if myself is someone who doesn’t like parties at all?

Then he added something that’s stuck with me. Something that might be achievable.

“The world needs you. It doesn’t need you at a party having read a book about how to appear smart at parties – these books exist, and they’re tempting – but resist falling into that trap. The world needs you at the party starting real conversations, saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and being kind.”

Let’s try it.

All images are scans from Patti Smith 1969 - 1977: Photographs by Judy Linn. All Patti Smith’s words are from her memoir, Just Kids.