Lately I’ve been thinking about how awkward I feel in social situations. Maybe it’s because I went to more than the usual number of social gatherings this weekend, who knows, but the older I get the harder it is for me to feel like I’m not floating aimlessly through space while trying to have conversations with people in a loud bar. Part of me feels like I’ve even developed a little bit of a stutter. I think the issue might be that my brain is running me through all these different levels of anxiety, so all I can manage to vocalize is something like, “Haw haw haw yeah!” or “Did you watch Lost?” or something similar (see: “Do you like Star Wars?”). I was much more confident at parties when I was a teenager, but that’s probably because I was a lot dumber and didn’t worry about spouting off some devoid-of-fact nonsense about some political cause that I happened to be worked up over that week. Now, though, I don’t know what to say. I don’t particularly love talking about myself because to be honest, there’s not much to say. I don’t want to talk about politics or music. I do clearly want to talk about Lost and Star Wars (very, very much) but there are only a select few people that I know who will entertain these subjects for too long. Sometimes I can find a new person who hasn’t heard me say the same thing over and over about these two things, but then the rest of the party they are just my Star Wars and Lost friend and I inevitably get over-excited about that, geek out on them way too hard, and then worry about it later. I don’t know why I do this, but I do. Part of me is a pretty quiet person, and another part of me wants to be noticed and talks too much because I want people to see whatever interesting side of me I think exists. These two sides of my brain are constantly at battle and they really do not like each other.
I once heard someone explain the concept of a “human hangover” (does anyone know who/where I heard this?) and it’s the story of my life: You go to a party, you jabber on about whatever, then you go home and go over each conversation in your head, worrying about having talked too much or having been to eager, did you insult them, did you corner them and make them desperate to get the hell away from over-opinionated girl, etc. I feel like every day, while I take a shower or before I fall asleep, all I’m thinking about is this kind of stuff. Which, to be honest, isn’t so bad, and I know for a fact that a lot of other people do this. I know that other people aren’t at home, in the shower or laying in bed, thinking, “Jesus, talking to Sydney was the worst.” They’re probably either normal humans who can talk to other people and then go about their day not stressing out about each word that they said because people talk all the time and it’s no big deal, or they are like me, going over each sentence with a fine-toothed comb, wishing that they had just kept their trap shut all night so that they wouldn’t have to have hairs turn gray over it later. Having said all of that, life is pretty sweet and I’m a happy person. I’m just a happy person plagued by social anxiety. It’s cool. I’ll probably just be thinking about these two paragraphs for the rest of the day.
That was a pleasant read, right? I hope I didn’t jumpstart any beneath-the-surface anxiety of your own. If I didn’t, congratulations for making it this far. Your reward is a recipe for oven-fried pickle chips! This is my last recipe for Farmer’s Garden by Vlasic for a while, so enjoy it while you can. I am a big fan of fried pickles and will generally always order them at a bar if they are an option. I know, however, that they are definitely not good for me. They sure taste good, though. I love dipping them in aioli or hot sauce, and they pair perfectly with an ice cold beer. Frying at home can be a pain, though, so these oven-fried pickle chips are an excellent compromise. They’re still surprisingly crispy, thanks to the Panko crumbs, and taste absolutely delicious. The batter consists of Worcestershire sauce (one of my favorite secret sauces for marinades and the like) and Sriracha, among other things, so you know there’s tons of flavor hiding under the crispy breading. Just dip, bake and serve piping hot. Kramer and I snacked on these and a bowl of popcorn while watching some relaxing mid-week television because, you know, we like to always have a balanced dinner. You can bake these ahead of time, if you like, then crisp them up in the oven just before serving. Any pickle fan will without a doubt eat all of these up in no time. Since this is my last Vlasic recipe, this is also my last reminder to go enter the Savor Simplicity Sweepstakes for a chance to win a summer entertaining package worth $1,500! That would make for one kick-ass end-of-summer barbecue, don’t you think?