On labels and boxes and small talk

So, you’re at a party. One of those parties with people and mingling and nibbles. And the inevitable happens – you’re sucked into a vortex of strangers before there’s been a chance to oil the vocal chit chat wheels and paste on the polite smile.

And they circle around you, smile and nod, laugh slightly at a joke you didn’t realise had been told.

And then they turn as one to face you and it’s all a chorus of who are you and what do you do on repeat.

So, unable to escape, I might go something like this;

Allow me to introduce myself.

My name’s Tamara – Tam to those who know me better than a cat biscuit – and I’m not that great at drawing.

But I like it.

I also like chocolate, wine and cheese.

And I can honestly say that I ain’t no expert at drawing, or the engineering of any of the aforementioned food stuffs (although I think I can modestly claim to be relatively good at consuming them).

But I can proudly say that I am a chocolate eater, a wine drinker, a cheese licker, and an occasional doodler. I also happen to write words, and regularly partake in a job that enables me to put a roof over my head and cheese in my gob and provide the Beast with the very specific brand of food that she finds acceptable enough to convert into the dirty brown stuff.

And none of the above things define me.

None of them, on their own, are who I am.

So here’s the thing, whether it’s a party or it’s The Weakest Link, the question is always the same – who are you and what do you do? And they can’t help but look disappointed in my answer.

So I might try again;

Well, my name’s Tamara and I’m a…

…shit…

(*disclaimer – possibly true at times*)

…you want me to name one thing that sums me up…?

… oh well, in that case, I’m Tamara and I’m a human… for the most part…

Wrong answer, says the lady with the red hair and the latex suit.

Because what they actually mean is tell us what you do to pay the bills and let us judge you by that.

But it’s not the wrong answer. It’s probably the answer that means the most. And I might not feel the need to be defined by one thing that I do that pays the bills.

I am a cat owner.

I am a writer.

I am cheese muncher.

I am a mess, much of the time.

I am a scribbler.

I am an atheist.

I am a puzzled soul.

I can be rather socially awkward.

I am generally trying to be friendly.

I am often wrong.

I drink wine and beer, but rarely from the same glass at the same time.

I read when I’m drunk.

I fall asleep under the open pages of books.

I make mistakes.

Sometimes, I drink more than the advised amount.

In another life I’m sure I’m a cowboy or an astronaut. In this life I’m not good with horses or heights.

And I do some stuff that enables me to pay the bills.

I will not be defined by one thing.

I am multiple things that I can never sum up in one sentence without the abuse of far too many commas.

I am multiple things that I don’t even know about yet.

I don’t fit see the need to fit into a box.

And the room has gone quiet, and they’re still smiling but not nodding anymore.

And I think that’s the appropriate time at a party to sidle over to the drinks table and grab yourself a beer.

About the Author

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Author of Grind Spark, near future pre-apocalyptic fiction.

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