On Thursday I’m told we’re going to a dinner party. I sigh the lonely sigh of a guy knowing he’s not going to have any fun for between two and eight hours. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the food will be great, at least I’m told it will be because that has been the biggest selling point to get me not to throw my patented ‘no fucking way is that going to happen’ rant.
I’m told I was told about this two months ago when it was first conceived. And I may have been. But if she thinks I remember it then she either hasn’t met me or forgets that if there’s an event I’m going to have to go to and I sure as hell don’t want to, its going to leave my head space before it grabs hold. I don’t want that nugget taking place It might take a place that could have held a great script idea or a joke about baby poop and dog food.
But, as with all other events that are not connected to my friends or my work, I take the high road. I figure there will be at least a few other guys there in the same boat. They don’t know any of these people and don’t want to be there. That can be a good bonding moment for two guys. As long as there’s beer and a TV. If not we’ll chat for three minutes then sit around staring at the floor until we’re released from this deserted island.
I was even more sure it wasn’t going to be fun-filled for me because of these scary words, “Its people I graduated with.”
Oh please, don’t do that. The only thing worse than going to a dinner party with people you don’t know is going with people you don’t know who graduated together. Because you have to know, if you’re even a wee bit normal, all their going to talk about is their good old days at Dorkass High or Screw U! And there is nothing in the world more boring than hearing good old day stories about people you don’t know, will never know and would kill if you ever met them.
I’m in my office a couple hours before the big event when a friend visits. He wants me to do something for him and I’m glad to do it. While I’m doing it he and my girlfriend start talking. When I’m done we converse for a little while before he begins his exit.
“Do you want to grab a beer?” He innocently says.
“Sure.” My girlfriend says.
Now is this a dilemma or what? It seems the sieve of a head connected to my girlfriend has forgotten about this long planned dinner party. This is when the evil part of me pops up. Okay, pops up higher than usual. I could say to my friend, ‘What a great idea. Let’s go.’ and never mention this party.
But the reality is she will remember sometime during the festivities which will mean not only will she be freaking out beyond walking through a spider web but she’ll lash out at me for not reminding her. So, when we finally arrived at the party, she’ll spend the first third of the party telling everyone what an asshole I am.
And is that the first impression I want to give? Again?
“Don’t you have a dinner party tonight?”
That fact bolts across her face. She hastily explains this fact to my friend who could not give a shit. But, on his way out, he did give me a sympathetic glance.
“Its worse that you think.” I tell him. “Its old school friends.”
“Better you than me.” Which would be the answer from any of my true friends.
Its an hour before the blasphemous event so we decide to grab a beer near the house. This is the debriefing part of the event. Its not as important as the event but it is a vital part of the evening. Its different for everyone but, me personally, I have to be reminded not to bring out any blue material; if I must say something stick to the basics; don’t make fun of anything potentially controversial; don’t make fun of anyone; don’t make light of a serious situation; generally, shut the fuck up.
I start to get a queasy feeling when I was told that, within the last few days, three or four couples have backed out. That’s created some tension I guess. I don’t care. People cancel things all the time. I’m notorious for it. But I’m doing the math and that deletes some potential allies. Not good for me.
While we’re leaving my girlfriend tells me about this one guy who’s going to be there. She tells me that he’s distraught because his dog recently died. Oh, he’s going to be a barrel of laughs.
“It was a poodle.”
“It was a standard poodle.”
“See? That’s the kind of things you can’t say.”
“I’m not saying anything bad. Just pointing shit out.”
“Don’t point shit out.”
And that’s how my pre-event pep talks usually go.
We get there and, because of the cancellations, there are only five people, all from the same graduating class, there. Four of them are women. I stood there for the first twenty minutes eating shrimp while listening to three conversations going on around me. I don’t know how the math of that worked out but it did. It seems they could tag team one another to keep the conversation going.
While I just ate shrimp.
You don’t know just how much people talk until you can add nothing to the conversation. I don’t know any of the people they’re talking about. I wasn’t at any of the situations. I’m basically a plant that blinks.
And eats shrimp.
Little by little people wandered into other rooms to continue their conversations. I sat at the kitchen table where, every now and then, someone would walk over to get something to eat and maybe ask a question. Mostly about how my girlfriend and I met and what I do. Everyone was polite but where do you go after that? Do you want to get into a conversation with someone you’ll be working from ground zero with or jump into a lively conversation about how some guy in your class was an asshole?
No one wants to meet anyone bad enough to miss that.
But it was fun because I brought beer.
The poodle guy sat across from me and told the same stories, in the same order, four or five times in a row. I knew it was just because he was drunk so I just sat there. But it was funny when he tried to convince one of the women that she did not, in fact, know he was gay in school. She, on the other hand begged to differ and I had to side with her.
“When did you know I was gay?” He asked me.
“About three hours ago when my girlfriend said poodle.”
I know I wasn’t supposed to do that but, come on! I’m only a man! In such a target rich environment I have to take the shot. I did it mainly because I knew he wouldn’t remember. Well, I would have done it if he was sober too, but, at least I can have that defense when I tell my girlfriend what I said. And I will. Because it was the highlight of my night. Besides beer.
I’m finally told my pardon has arrived at the wardens office and I am being released. I quickly say good-byes to people whose names I don’t remember and head for the door.
“Wait! Don’t go.” Says the other guy there. I smile and tell him its time for us to go but I’ve had a lovely time. “No! Come on! Let’s dance!” He grabs my hands and begins to, for lack of a better word, dance with someone who was best described earlier as a plant.
I watch him, bemused, for a moment. It was a harmless moment until I heard,
“Twirl!” He raised my arm making an arch wanted me to twirl under.
I look at him for a moment, plant still, and say,
“I’m not much of a twirler.” I put my hands down. “But you can if you’d like.”
People are laughing and having fun so I took that opportunity to say our final good-byes.
Walking down the stairs my girlfriend asked if I had a good time.
“It was a night I’ll always remember.”