Scene from Above

Quite often when I’m doing something I’d really rather not, I find that I can somehow detach myself and view the entire scenario as if seen from above. Sort of like an aerial shot, or, I guess, a bird’s-eye view. This isn’t to say that I possess some sort of freakish ability to really see myself from that vantage point … but that I can imagine myself flying above-head or stuck to the ceiling like a spider, watching over whatever I’m doing down there.
(I just want you to know that I don’t have actual “out of body” experiences. I don’t want you to run away screaming for fear that I’m going to pull out an old Ouija board.)
I had occasion to so view myself the other day when I was visiting friends for a few days. “S” (not her real name) and I (my real name) were outside, before dusk, to “find”, as she said, her young son. It really wasn’t a matter of “finding” him, because we knew where he was.
Well, we weren’t outside for more than 60 seconds (a/k/a “one minute”) when Friendly Neighbor #1 waved, which meant that I was obligated to accompany S as she walked that slow suburban walk over to FN1’s lawn. Once there, I focused on his adorable Bichon (uhh, that’s a dog), so I was able to hold up at least a fraction of the conversation that was expected of me as the Friend From New York. Had there been no dog, I would have been forced to engage in small talk, which appeals to me about as much as slitting my wrists with a rusty razorblade or wearing plaid.
S and FN1 gabbed about, uh, whatever (it all sounded like the adults’ voices in Peanuts to me), and I asked random questions about the dog. I figured it made me appear sociable. I figured I had done my part. (In all fairness, however, FN1 really did seem to be a decent guy.)
But that wasn’t all. As S and I finally turned away from FN1 to “find” her son, Friendly Neighbor #2, her son’s friend’s dad (‘s plumber’s wife’s ex-hairdresser’s mailman), ambled over sporting a big grin and a bigger hole in his cut-off denim shorts, armed with an arsenal of small talk and wretched cliché lethal enough to destroy the entire tristate area. I haven’t heard that many instances of “You know what I’m sayin'” (posed as a statement, not as an actual question) this side of Maury. FN2 reminded me of “Mark” from Mad About You, complete with his own raucous laugh track courtesy of himself, S, and FN1.
So I watched myself from above. Watched myself standing with arms folded across my chest mostly as protection from the chill in the air but also as a childish symbol of my lack of interest in the entire exchange. Watched myself staring at the gargantuan hole in FN2’s ridiculous shorts, through which I swear I heard giddy, slightly muffled laughter in a voice that sounded like Pinocchio’s. Watched him think I was enchanted by his crotch. Watched myself paying extra careful attention to every birdsong, every car passing, every screen door creak, every molecule of oxygen passing under my nose. Airplanes were just outside my frantic grasp. And then I was back on FN1’s lawn, burying a bone with the Bichon, who had a hell of a lot more going on and a whole lot more to say.