Balancing Social Needs and Physical Limitations

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

September 10th, 2010 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

I had reservations about going out to a club with my ear/hearing still messed up from the explosive bang a month ago. But I really needed to start getting out there, so I called the Meetup.com organizer to evaluate the situation — asking how he anticipated the night would go.

From his description, I expected a quiet food and drinks gathering in the restaurant at 9 pm, followed by dancing with a DJ at 10 pm. I could handle both. It didn’t sound like a situation where people would try to scream at me over pounding music.

So I drove 18 miles out to a suburban lounge. I was not advised that it was in a post-apocalyptic size mall, so I ended up driving through miles and around miles of shops, restaurants, and cafes. Finally I found the venue and parked. As I walked toward the entrance, my nerves were attacked by the sound of drunk-off-their-asses, football-watching, frat-boy types. I ran back to the start of the sidewalk and put in my earplugs.

They were still too loud. They also turned out to be part of the Meetup.com group (for professionals – um, what?) They were on the patio outside, so I ran into the inside of the restaurant and joined the Meetup group on the far side of the patio, at the other end of the restaurant. There my nerves were attacked once again, this time by a very shrill and loud laugh of one particular woman – kept happening, so I bolted back inside.

Meanwhile, the various Meetup members I encountered kept sticking out their hands to shake mine. Who the heck made up that custom, may I ask? I never signed on for it.

Perhaps this is a culture difference: In the big bad city, when I said I didn’t shake, most people immediately withdrew their hands and apologized. Here  a guy thought the perfect response was to hit my knee. I repeat: Um, what? Fortunately it was light-handed, and I was quick enough to pull back, so I was barely touched in the end, and my knee was unaffected.

When the Meetup organizer began telling the various women in scantily-clad clothes that he wanted this gal’s legs to be added to this gal’s ass to be added to…I got up and left. I felt a bit depressed – of the “crap, how am I supposed to get a social life if I can’t socialize” variety – but decided to get a mocha latte, then come back and dance when the DJ hit the floor.

I did just that and ended up dancing with a very cool woman who was the only person other than I who didn’t mind getting down. Everyone else did that uptight white man’s overbite. But the woman’s hubbie wanted to split (and as he did, he looked down into my shirt, without — I might add — making any human connection to me: Ew!), so I was left dancing on my own. Until a guy parked his girlfriend right. smack. dab. in front of my body.

Hello, respect and boundaries anyone?

I didn’t feel like confronting the douchebag or his compliant girlfriend, so I just made sure to make REALLY BIG MOTIONS with my hands as I danced – as in, stay in front of my face, lady, and you’ll get your head whacked. It worked, but they still stayed plastered right at the edge of where my arms were flailing about.

So I moved to the other side of the dance floor, irriated, then proceeded to get back down and into action again. Then the drunk, too-old-to-be-frat-boys frat boys began booing the DJ for his choice in a song that I happened to love. Again: assault on nerves. Plus the bass in the music on that side of the room was a bit loud for my little ears to take, despite earplugs, so I split the joint.

But I felt great. I had fun dancing, I got a workout (on top of my two mile walk and hour-long home dance session, I might add), and I was really proud of myself for getting out there and taking a chance. Plus, as my mom pointed out, I may have driven 18 miles to get there, but I still got there in ¼ the time it would have taken me to get 1/3 the distance in LA. Word.



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