Party Tricks

I am a party girl; I love throwing, attending, and crashing the various social gatherings of the human species put on to celebrate that which is celebration-worthy and honorably honor the enthusiasms taking place in other people’s lives. This summer I have some family reunions to attend that I am looking forward to, and because I have no other events on the calendar, I am going to put an ad in the paper “Free Know-it-All Party Guest” to try to get myself invited to some more champagne-uncorkings  –cookouts, baby showers, kid’s birthdays, stag parties, and such. I think I will leave out my qualifications as an angelic being, I don’t think I will get the kind of savory characters I want responding, nor find myself in venues with tastefully folded napkins.

From the overly festive Christmas party which ended with an abrupt paramedic appearance, to the hot tub party in the Alps that turned into a sour vinegar party, all the way to the high-class exchange of Harvard professors and real estate agents, I’ve been able to be the fly on the wall at my fair share of parties this past winter season. I am poised and ready, privy to take note of all the strange interactions and party fouls which take place at these events. Capturing each moment with my mental pen and paper,  I usually find myself dropping eaves left and right and picking up people’s social cues when they leave them by the pool table; my goal is to observe everyone having a good time, while simultaneously monitoring that they are not spilling expensive caviar on their favorite Brooks Brothers’ shirt. Here is a small profile of what parties are like these days, and a glimpse into the lives of some of the fine folks I have clashed personalities and beer glasses most recently.

The Odd Party Guest (OPG)
You WILL find one of these at every party. It’s usually that person whom all of the other party-goers are talking about, raising quietly their eyebrows and then their glasses to avoid getting caught in a semi-awkward conversation with him. These folks come in many forms (even lurking behind the mask of a host or hostess) and are to be dealt with gingerly. Some hints to identifying this unique species:

They wore an entirely inappropriate outfit for the season or occasion. (Mermaid costumes at a funeral reception…prom dresses for your 5 year old’s birthday party….and head-to-toe khaki outfits fit for an African safari to your employee holiday h’orderves party….you get the idea)
They are borderline violent in their insistence on pig-tailed and dressed poodle, Mumie Foofa Princess Peepee, being allowed on the guest list.
They constantly gravitate towards the stinkiest foods at the party like egg salads, herring, cheese, etc and they are also usually the type who have not discovered the age-old formula of personal space.
Some of my observations of the OPG’s is that they may possess a strange propensity towards following other guests around  the house, even getting dangerously close to entering restrooms with them when clearly not being invited to do so. Other OPG’s simply latch onto the general uncomfortable staring technique, casting their gaze unabashedly in the direction of whomever they have deemed an appropriate target. They are stealth, they are boisterous, they are overly smiley, and they have interesting smelling breath. Nearly every party, unless you’re partying solo, has a walking oddity.

The I-Know-Who-You-Know Game
Back when Twister and Yahtzee were popular, we probably had no need for this game; however, nowadays every event worth hitting the presses involves a game of social web exchange. The rules of play are intricate. You say a name, I tell you if I know the person, perhaps I will describe how I know them, what they wore at the last opera, and then we might talk about them behind their back. It’s all fun and games until people’s ears start ringing. The game is a bonding tool that took the place of superglue, hookahs, and bong pipes long ago. Boy, is it handy. It weaves a nice path into the gossip channel, if your guests have a common interest in social updates, or it can be a way to reminisce about how they were in the same place at the same time in 1994. It also looks quite impressive, and establishes a basis for power and poise when people have arabesqued on the same balance beam as Mary Lou Retton, meditated with the Dalai Lama, and sipped from a goblet at a table with the Queen of Lesotho. Providing your guests with hours of thrill, laughter, and unbridled competition, this game requires no additional parts nor set up and is virtually free for the taking. I would definitely recommend playing it at your next bash.

Getting Your Guests to Go Home at Appropriate Times
Fortunately, at all the parties I have hosted, I’ve had my own personal back up system for alerting my guests as to when it’s time to call it quits. I either start loading the dishwasher, change into my nightie and begin my cucumber facial, or start dancing on the table. Any of these three tactics have proven successful for me, even in the most dire of circumstances. However, should you not be so lucky as to own a dishwasher, you’re hosting a pajama party and therefore already wearing your night nights, and your table dancing moves are actually legit, you will need to wrestle with the proper way to usher party-goers out the door in a way that is tactful and gracious. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is actually no solution to this common and treacherous problem; even if you cannot stay awake past ten o’clock, your guests can, and it’s rude to send them home while they are awake. My suggestion is to kick yourself several times for hosting the party in the first place, and stop running tomorrow’s to-do list through your head. With these feats accomplished, you can settle down, pull up a chair next to stinky breath party-goer, relax, and fall asleep while talking to people. That’s a sure-fire way to get the hooplah to go elsewhere.

In case you missed the deep existential meaning of this blog, I will tie it all together for you. Next time you find yourself in a stuffy room surrounded by a group of rich barracudas drinking champagne that cost more than your last plastic surgery, or blowing air into one of those noise makers at a baby shower, keep your eyes open to the world around you and you will find, it can be quite rewarding. The proof is in the pudding (and hopefully also in the vodka), people-watching can be intellectually stimulating, rejuvenating, depressing, empowering, and even at times, elating. If your life involves sleeping through various events and even entire days, try staying awake with me and finding the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the human race. This opportunity is invitation-only.

The End of the Introduction.


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