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Party of None

By Bob Woodiwiss · January 4th, 2001 · Pseudoquasiesque
Two phrases cause my right eyelid to flutter uncontrollably whenever I hear them. The first: "I need to examine your prostate." (No less disturbing from medical professionals than it is from lay persons, by the way.) The second: "Let's have a party." In fact, this second phrase -- most recently uttered by My Partner -- so disturbs me I usually try to deflect it by proposing, "How 'bout you examine my prostate instead?"

Party: Derived from the German "partiereicherdammerungenhertz," meaning, "Feel free to treat my house with the disregard you usually reserve for a rental car."

-- The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th edition

As someone whose self-esteem is woefully dependent on the opinion of others, parties are the ultimate in anxiety for me. There are simply too many opportunities to fail, fall short, disappoint. Will a lot of fun people show up or just the losers we know? Are Brie Doritos too pretentious? Is one keg of beer enough, or will the guests want some, too? Are books-on-tape too conceptual to dance to? Thankfully, My Partner has the answers to all my questions. "Re-fucking-lax, anal boy," she suggests.

If your party is going to succeed, every detail is an important detail. For example, the finely tuned guest list includes Crips or Bloods, not Crips and Bloods.

-- Martha Stewart

We send out our invitations -- a little dealee we designed on the computer. The 3-D font and clip art give it a look that tells invitees, "They designed this little dealee on the computer." Message-wise, our invitation states the party's theme as, "Coolin' Off the Dog Days." That was My Partner's clever concept.

Personally, I thought, if the party had to have a theme, it should be something like, "Swingin' Celebration For People Who Promise They Won't Feed Our Dog Crab Dip or Hot Wings or Brownies or Other Crap but If They Can't Help Themselves and Break That Promise They Swear on Their Mother's Eyes They'll Come Back Tomorrow and Clean up the Puke."

Your house should be in perfect order by the time your guests arrive. Not so much for their benefit, but because it makes it so much easier to assess the total damage afterwards.

-- The State Farm Insurance GoodTime Party Planning Handbook

The invitation gives a start time of 8:30. Predictably, the first arrivals don't show until 9:30. And the bulk of the crowd -- about 50 people -- doesn't turn up until 10:30. Meaning this train might not run out of steam until the wee hours. I wait until midnight, then start trying to drum up interest in my Nyquil Jell-O Shots.

Fish and Visitors stink after about three seconds when Ye are jamm'd into a room full of them.

-- Benjamin Franklin

While I'm timid, awkward and a social tumor on occasions like this, My Partner is anything but. She is any party's vibrant, bright, warm, magnetic, engaging, easygoing, footloose and energetic epicenter. She is JFK to my RMN. Katie to my Bryant. Pre-12/18/97 Chris Farley to my post-12/18/97 Chris Farley. Flipper to my fish sticks. I watch her mingle and dance and connect and before long I find myself wishing I had just 1 percent of what she's got. (I currently have 5 percent.)

Some people are made to circulate. Others to clot and cause strokes.

-- My Partner

It's 2 a.m. and the festivities are still in full swing. The food is holding. The beverages, ditto. A few couples sway Nyquilishly to Michael Crichton's Airframe (unabridged). Several guest clusters have formed, talking, laughing, roaring, discussing every topic under the sun, from the last good movie they saw to the last good movie they heard about. Me, I move invisibly through the tableau, emptying ashtrays, picking up abandoned paper plates, balled-up napkins and exhausted drinks, avoiding eye contact, silently encouraging the group on the deck pummeling the guy who'd started playing his guitar.

Don't let your hosting responsibilities keep you from enjoying your own party. And don't let the fact that you spend all day, every day in your pajamas hinder your career advancement, either.

-- Hugh Hefner's Guide to Life

Dawn threatens; the last handful of guests exits, steps out into the damp air. "You do a great party, man," someone says. That's just what I need. Now, I'll be up until noon trying to decide if he said that ironically or if I just heard it that way. ©



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