For a Friday night, I am feeling pretty lazy and anti-social. The Downtown Fullerton Art Walk is going on now, and seeing as I live downtown and love supporting local artists, I feel like I should go around and check it out. None of my close friends are interested though, and while I’d normally just go check it out on my own, I don’t have the energy to walk around and chat up acquaintances.
Plus, sometimes, I get a little tired of the scene. One thing that I have noticed about events like art walks is that since it seems like such a cool thing to do (and it really is, at least the idea of it– cities displaying local artists is a great thing!) people feel pressured to be “cool.” And I get the sense that a lot of people feel insecure about their “coolness” in these settings, so they try extra hard to make their presence and attitude seem effortless. And so they dress in their best hipster outfit. They try walking with indifference but you can tell by the way that they don’t know what to do with their hands that they really are extremely self-conscious. They scope out the room for who is the coolest person that they kind of know, so that they can demonstrate their affiliation with other cool people to the rest of their self-conscious friends. They try to be witty in their small talk. They actually say very little about the art, for fear of revealing some lack of knowledge or some inferior opinion about art. They look at other people in the room, size them up, determine their coolness factor.
It all makes me feel like I am in high school again, in the worst of ways. Not all of the venues bring in this sort of crowd, but I have experienced the scene that I described, and it makes me uncomfortable. There is this one girl in particular that really rubs me the wrong way; she is good friends with some of the people I know who own galleries, and there have been times when we’ve all hung out together. Quite a few times; in fact, we’ve even been to mutual friends’ small parties, though I don’t know her all that well. By this point, we’ve obviously been introduced to each other several times, but every time I see her and I am talking to a mutual friend, she will introduce herself to me as if we have never met. Not in the way that she wants to make small talk and is asking my name; she looks at me and says, “Hi, I’m (so-and-so).” And that is all. That annoys the hell out of me, and I don’t think it is my ego talking. I would understand perfectly if she just could not remember my name, but that there was at least a glimmer of recognition there. Or if it was an introduction to small talk, but nope. She usually ignores me after reminding me of her name.
If she really doesn’t recognize people that she’s recently met several times, that suggests to me that she must be too wrapped up with herself to pay attention to the people that she meets. It suggests to me that it is all phony, when she meets a person and shakes his or her hand. I know that I am not that big of a deal. And I also don’t think that she is that big of a deal. So either it is all an act to make herself seem too important to recognize her friends’ friends, or, she really does imagine herself so important that she doesn’t bother to recognize faces.
Either way, it makes me really dislike her. And that behavior seems pretty normal for that scene.
To be sure, art walks also bring out some very down-to-earth, kind, welcoming people, the kind of people that make up the town I love. But when I am trying to motivate myself to go walk around and check out the art when really I am feeling anti-social inside, I think of her, and the overall sense of people trying really hard to prove their coolness, and I decide that home with a good movie and a glass of wine sounds better.