Friday, January 14, 2011

lessons learned at a company holiday party

In the grand Western Judeo-Christian tradition, all companies are required to host an event wherein people who normally spend their time wishing for large icicles to fall on each other can gather around a bar and drink away their remaining neurons.

This event may be held in December, or, if your company is populated by face-painting sloths, in the September following the holiday season.1

One of the best parts of a company holiday party is the forced interaction with people with whom you share no common bond outside of the fact that you both happen to perform your drastically different functions for the same company. These interactions are typically much more uncomfortable for my coworkers, mainly because I am impervious to feeling awkward when staring at someone long after the conversation has died down.

Just kidding! I feel nothing but awkward in all facets of my life, at every moment. They, of course, feel nothing, because they are doused in alcohol. So I get to spend the evening going from one awkward drunk encounter to another, praying that people while drunk do actually forget everything that happens to them, including the hideously bad dancing they are subjected to.2

The first key to a successful holiday party is to announce a vague dress code. This might be done by informing the entire office that you don't need to dress up, and that the dress code is "smart".

Now, if you were a young lad from Utah, you might assume that "smart" means "basically anything you happen to have in the suitcase you are still living out of". Though this is roughly approximately correct, it is actually nowhere near by anything like correct. Let me encourage you to wear that suit you left home, thinking that you would be the most overdressed person in the crowded sweaty Moroccan-themed bar, lest you find yourself in a natty sweater3 surrounded by a set of individuals who appear to have walked straight out of the casino scene in a James Bond novel.

The second key to a successful holiday party is to hold said party in a tightly-enclosed space and fill the entire audistic capacity with the loudest British pop ever heard on the planet. This is the sort of environment you want to have when you have the following conversation with an individual several levels your senior:

Senior Coworker: I say, you're dressed poorly!

Me: Why, thank you.

Awkward pauses.

Senior Coworker: What do you have for breakfast?4

Nearby Tipsy Coworker: Eggs!

Me: Cereal!

Senior Coworker: (Displaying palpable confusion) Whaddya mean? For breakfast?

Me: Um, yes?

Senior Coworker: (Spending several moments trying to comprehend this monstrosity) Really? I guess I have cereal for dinner on some evenings, but for breakfast? I normally stick to a nice pot of porridge.

Me: Mumble gotta go see someone else mumble.

And lastly, the third key to a successful holiday party is to invite along a British Member of Parliament (MP), so as to heighten the entertainment of the party when one of his entourage (first identified as a Swedish MP, but this was later withdrawn) circles the room, bumping into people, eating out of serving trays with his fork, and desperately looking for a place to pee.

But have no fear. Holiday awkwardness will be spared when the Pole you are speaking to drops her glass, which manages to slice your hand as you pick it up. You're now free to leave.5

1. If it weren't for Sam, we never would have had one at all for that year. And lest my co-workers take offense, I am counting myself in the painted sloth assessment.
2. At one point last month I found myself doing the can-can with a drunk Brit, Jamaican, and Indian, all wearing Burger King crowns, with a belly dancer performing nearby. This was one of the more surreal experiences of my life.
3. Please, they call them jumpers. There's nothing quite like not only being insulted for underdressing, and then being told you are wearing a woman's sleeveless, collarless dress.
4. As stated, when you have nothing in common, you're left with the bare shards of slowly-dying conversations.
5. Lest my coworkers be insulted, I did enjoy myself, though not as much as my coworker who I called at ten the next morning to find he was just on his way home enjoyed himself. Though, to be honest, I much more appreciated the Germany holiday party, wherein I was allowed to talk to a gorgeous German for the balance of the evening, though we likely did not connect as much as my buddy did with the Swiss-German he met on the top of the Eiffel Tower, and pursued vigorously until finding out she was, wait for it, seventeen. I will never let him live that down as long as he lives.

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