This may be because at least three-fifths of the table are under-25 and unemployed, but let's try to avoid that particularly depressing avenue of conversation for the meantime.
While everyone is having a lovely time at our seemingly endless lunch, something with me doesn't feel quite kosher. Maybe it's the cheese toastie, or the lemon cheesecake it took me 35 seconds to ingest, but something about my stomach was beginning to confirm my recent suspicion that I was developing some brand of late in life lactose intolerance. (Which kind of syncs up with my "bloggers are the Jewish stereotype of the internet" theory of some weeks ago quite nicely.)
Within minutes of our plates being cleared I could feel myself sweating with nausea, and it occurred to me that every sudden movement I made brought me closer and closer to the possibility of vomiting on my friends.
"I don't feel so great."
No-one really notices. Or if they do, they just assume (correctly) that inquiring further about my feelings will lead to a very boring conversation. Some time passes.
"I really do feel sick now."
I mean it, too. I seriously need to go somewhere that has a bed and a plentiful supply of smelling salts. Everyone still seems reluctant to acknowledge this. Again, I don't blame them. When they hear "I feel sick", they understand it to mean "My tummy has butterflies from my big day out!" or "If I eat anymore cake I won't sleep tonight, ho ho, yes!"
As the pain and nausea seer together to become one summer salad of unpleasantness, it dawns on me: If I want to get out of this social situation alive, I am going to have to be a complete asshole. I am simply going to have to annoy as many people as I possibly can until someone eventually brings me home, so I can die.
I make a decision. I do this.
My voice goes from grumble to full on whinge. I whimper, and I kick my legs, and I tug on Ryan's sleeve. I emit a shrill, banshee-like noise anytime I'm even remotely dissatisfied. I can feel myself being annoying, and I know I'm single-handedly responsible for killing the mood of the afternoon. And I don't care. I am sacrificing myself for the long-term good of the group. When I'm eventually taken back to the car, I give a limp "sorry everyone" and pass out for most of the journey.
This is one of the times in life when it is OK to be a complete and total asshole. In case you're wondering, here are some other times when you can just barely get away with it.
You are at the Self-Service counter in Tescos
In the old days, shopping meant that there was one person you could casually despise, and that was the checkout girl. Now, with the wonders of self-service, you can freak out at any number of people.
For one, there's the person who answers their phone while they're at the check-out, who will just drop their bag of mandarins mid-scan and use this oppurtunity to catch up with their mother about the dogs angina.
Then there's the man in his mid-thirties who carries a change purse. I am convinced this guy spends all week fishing for brown coins in the couch just so he can torment me when I'm trying to buy houmous with ten minutes left in my lunch break. The cool thing about this situation is that you can exorcise your true asshole tendencies in the passive aggressive manner places like Tesco encourage.
Roll your eyes!
Look generally exasperrated!
Someone is trying to play you Reggae music
|Do not listen to anything with this man|
Kick. Stamp your foot. Try to ruin the aural experience as intensely yet as succinctly as possible. There is no convincing some people that reggae is horrible, and it is your lot in life to live with that. But you should never have to cope with listening to it.
You are in costume
It's a fact often acknowledged that girls tend to embrace Hallowe'en because it gives them carte blanche to dress like a total whore. What people take slightly longer to realize is that Hallowe'en gives you carte blanche to do basically anything.
Like the look of that guy's hat? Take it. It's yours. Why? Because you're dressed like a Smurf, that's why. The power of costume is two-fold in that it partially cloaks both your identity and your shame. Be selfish. Be arrogant. Demand that two-hour piggy back, because who knows when this chance will come again.