1. “Everybody find a partner!”
Oh, great, the entirety of my teenage anxieties encapsulated into one horrendous orientation exercise. I can’t tell if this is sweat in my eyes, or tears.
2. “Come and say hello to everyone!”
Oh, everyone? Everyone I don’t know? With all their judging eyes? Sure, I’ll be right along.
3. “Call me.”
Just call you? Just dial your number with sweaty fingers, mentally run through all possible rejection scenarios, then go blank when you pick up? Suuuuuuuuure, I’ll call you.
4. “So, what’s new with you?”
Me: “Brain, what’s new with me?”
Brain: “It’s OK, I got this!”
Mouth: “‘Labia’ is a word!”
5. “Would you like to say a few words?”
What, me? In front of all these people? Absolutely. But you should know that those words are going to be “um”, “oh god”, and “I’m so sorry about all the vomit”.
6. “Can I see you in my office?”
Obviously this phrase strikes fear into every human heart. But to anxious people, it doesn’t just suggest that they’re about to be fired, but that they’re about to be more fired than anyone in the history of firing. Possibly by a firing squad.
8. “We need to talk later.”
OK, you contact me when you’re ready. I’ll just be over here, frozen in place by a) this bitter and endless rush of adrenaline, and b) the exciting prospect of all the sleepness nights and unattractive crying sessions I’m about to experience!
9. “You’d better have a seat.”
If you insist, but I will sit on the very edge of it and jiggle my knees around until you tell me exactly who died and why it’s my fault.
10. “Why do you worry so much?”
Because I have a violently oversensitive de facto physiological response to stress, and this is one of the ways in which it manifests. Why do you ask?
11. “What’s that in your hair?”
ALL OF THE SPIDERS. ALL OF THEM.
12. “Huh. That’s interesting.” (If said by a dentist or doctor.)
Until you tell me otherwise, Doctor, I am going to assume that you’ve found a malignant sentient teratoma, and that the only possible course of action is aggressive trepanation with no anesthesia and a low success rate.
13. “Oops.” (If said by a hairdresser.)
Oh, god, what have you done? Added a mullet or subtracted an ear?
14. “You’re going to feel a little discomfort.”
I know that “discomfort” is medical code for “unbearable pain”, but I’ve also heard that clenching makes the pain worse, so I will at once try to clench and not clench, thereby creating a rip in the space-time continuum. So, you know, sorry about that.
15. “What was that noise?”
That noise outside the tent we’ve erected far away from any police or emergency medical staff? Dunno. Could be a crazed wild man with a scythe. Could be my appendix bursting. It’s hard to be sure.
16. “Don’t freak out, but…”
OK, the only thing my brain got from that sentence were the words “freak out”, and I am reacting accordingly.
17. “Who could be calling at this hour?”
Oh, probably just the official sorts of people who use your entire name and tell you that everyone you ever loved has died violently.