They — the parents and kids and teachers and administrators and staff — are a tight knit bunch. Coming in as an uncle does not convey much status in the social fabric. This is not to say anyone was impolite or rude to me per se, but more that rudeness and impoliteness existed adjacent to the awkward space I occupied.
For example, in the intermission I needed to stand up as the folding chairs did a number on my back. Padding is mounted on the walls of the theater/gymnasium, and against one pad at the end of our row I leaned and read the news on my phone. Two people started chatting next to me. Then a third joined in, and a fourth. I moved down. Then more joined in. I shuffled stage-ward as the conversation grew. I ended up relocated about ten feet or so from where I started.
This is not to say no one outside of my family talked to me. While we ate spaghetti and salad from Styrofoam containers another family sat down at the round table. We discovered through idle chit chat that their child and my sibling’s are in the same class. They live not too far away from us. And the husband works in the same industry as me. That so rarely happens that I was unprepared when it did.
I was already a bit socially overwhelmed by then after a rough day at work, so talking shop was not something I was remotely interested in. The fellow dropped hints about his social network and a colleague of mine that he also knows and how there’s a kind of tech circle that meets every now and again for drinks and shop talk.
He seemed a nice guy, as I said, and under normal circumstances I would have engaged. I did not. On the ride home my disinterest was a brief topic of conversation. I was told that I was not rude or brusque but signaled that I was not keen to chat.
That is a fair assessment.
What is my point in telling this story?
It’s largely a reminder to me that this was an ok series of interactions. There is no law or contract mandating camaraderie or inclusion, nor should I have expended energy to integrate myself into an environment I enter for about ten hours per calendar year.
Also, that seeing a parochial elementary school perform High School Musical The Musical while retaining secular elements and innuendo was an event I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.