One fun thing that happened when we were in Hawaii was that I had a panic attack. We had a hotel babysitter lined up and were going to go out to dinner at Alan Wong's with the birthday boy and boy's friend, and around 4:00 p.m. I entered a realm wherein I felt like my intestines would spill out of my mouth if I set one foot outside our hotel room. I mean, I do tend to live on the functioning end of the agoraphobic continuum, but not so's anyone would usually notice, so I had to come clean with Jack. Confession elicited kind of a blank look from him, and then he said that I would probably feel better if I took a shower and washed the mushrooms out of my ears. I weakly protested that I was clean, as I'd been in the pool all morning, and he replied that I should shut up because I was coated with little kids' pee.
Hot water made me feel human enough to dress (minus the Herculean effort choosing jewelry would have required). I made it through the cab ride, and got past ordering food by letting everyone else tell me what I should eat. But after my dinner companions, being in the dark about my delicate condition, began complaining loudly to the waiter about their (third round of) martinis and started yelling at me about the art market, I felt like I was going to pass out and almost violently excused myself from the table.
When I made it back (really, there was nowhere else to go) I still felt like my brains were covered in cold guacamole but I erped out a short, nonmedical explanation of why my eyeballs were wiggling like protozoa. Suddenly everyone was much gentler with me, partly out of sympathy, mostly out of Belvedere. And then the meal was over, the bleak mantle of madness lifted, and we were flung back toward our room and the sleeping lovely boy.
"Fear of being social" isn't right. It's more like: Fear of forced gaiety with posh people who think I'm not very funny. Or, Being forced to be with people I have to change myself to be with. Or, Wanting to stay home and eat pancakes for dinner every night, forever. Pathological homebodiness. The truth of it is in there somewhere. My hand to God I'll figure it out before it strikes again.