Wednesday, 26 October 2011

In Support of the Party...

Hello Friends.

You know how sometimes you see a dog on a surfboard? Dog isn't surfing so much as not moving while the board goes on its way? That's how I feel at a party. I enjoy myself, but I feel out of place, and I'm never really sure what I'm supposed to do.

This past weekend, I went to fun, happy, fancy-but-not-stuffy party hosted by my old school chum Katie and her new husband Curt. I was thrilled to be there, and loved catching up with dear old friends from my university days and beyond, but I sort of forgot how to be a human person. I have to stress, here, that the party itself was wonderful, the hosts gracious, the guests charming, the venue perfect and the food excellent, I just couldn't make heads or tails of it. I don't have time to catch up with how parties are supposed to work, I have a Hallowe'en party to go to this upcoming Saturday, then its only a few weeks before the Christmas Parties start, then New Year's Eve, then my annual Martin Luther King Dance-a-thon. Instead, I'd rather parties catch up with me.

Dream: Change the way parties work.

Goal: Achievable. With holidays fast-approaching, and the threat of another hours-cut at work, I need more money and a new job. Becoming a party-planner would satisfy those needs, plus, if I were running an expensive, catered affair, someone might get drunk and start yelling and I would get to say discretely into my walkie-talkie, “We've got a situation here.” I've always, since boyhood, wanted to say “We've got a situation here” into a walkie-talkie. That's my no-hitter.

Plan: Add a few new elements to parties to make them easier, and less socially stressful. Such as:

British men to announce the arrival of guests. You know how, in old movies, someone arrives at the top of the stairs to descend into a fancy party and a British man says, “Lord Chesterball, the Third and his wife, Pinky.” We need that today, with slight modification. We need the guy to say that, then sidle up to you and say, “This was the guy your brother used to work with who has the sister whose still a drunk so don't ask about her.” At this party over the weekend, I could have really used this person.

I was talking with Katie in a small group when a new person showed up and Katie squealed and hugged him and I thought, “I know this guy.” He smiled at everyone and I knew I'd seen him before a million times. There were a lot of people from the prairies at this party, many of whom I hadn't seen in years, and I was frantically wracking my brain, thinking, “How do I know this guy? Did we take a class together? Is he the friend of a friend of mine? Come on, James, figure it out!” Katie introduced him around, saying, “James, this is Stefan, Stefan, James” and I thought, “Good! He doesn't remember me either! Level playing field.” And I was torn between saying, “Pleased to meet you” and “Nice to see you again”, so what came out was “Please to meet you again” (slow clap). It was plain he didn't remember me, either, but instead of being relieved, I was a little miffed. Maybe this guy looked different than he used to, but I've had the same clothes and haircut for fifteen years! Then I suddenly realized the reason the guy looked familiar is not because we know each other but because he played Snake on Degrassi High. Worried that I might fawn too much, or accidentally ask after Wheels, I excused myself and headed for the bar. Had I a British man to give me a heads-up, I could have met and greeted Stefan with a little more elan, instead of saying “Please to meet you again” and making a terrible “sudden realization” face.

Red cards. Apparently, in the game of soccer, or as they called it in England, a packet of crisps, a player knows he is ejected from the game when he's handed a red card. Red cards cannot be refused or contested. We need a version of that for parties. Stefan could have politely handed me one after my “Please to meet you again” and I would have had to walk away, without question, for the greater good of the party. Wouldn't that be great? Sort of a “Get Out of this Boring Conversation Free” card?

At a recent gathering, where music was blaring throughout, I was introduced by a friend of mine to her friend and her friend's husband. My friend and her friend went off to curl their hair or get pregnant or whatever girls do, leaving me and the husband and the blaring music. I'm sure the husband was a lovely man, I'm sure I'm no prize to be stuck next to at a party either, but this was the conversation we had.

HUSBAND: What's your karaoke song?
JAMES: Sorry?
HUSBAND: When you sing karaoke? What's your song?
JAMES: Oh! I don't really sing karaoke, actually.
HUSBAND: Never? You've never sung karaoke? Come on!
JAMES: Well, sure, once or twice.
HUSBAND: So what's your song?
(JAMES thinks back to his handful of times singing karaoke, can only remember one experience, in particular)
JAMES: Um... “Walk Like An Egyptian”, I guess? By the Go-Go's?
HUSBAND: (Silence. Long pause).
JAMES: The Bangles, excuse me.
HUSBAND: (Silence. Long pause).
JAMES: What's your karaoke song?
HUSBAND: Oh, I don't sing karaoke.

What? Come on, Husband! What was the point of that entire exchange? Does he have some book, “1001 Ways to Start a Shitty, Go-Nowhere Talk”? I would have loved to have had a red card that I could quietly hand to him at any point during our conversation. The benefit is twofold as I'm sure he didn't want to be there talking to me, either!

Lyrics everywhere. Speaking of karaoke, I think parties with music should require easily accessed, well-lit and legible lyrics to the songs as they're being played by whomever is “deejay-ing” the event. This is because humans are the only animals that lip-synch. Well, I can't say that for certain, maybe a meerkat will move it's little mouth to the recording of another meerkat, but I can state empirically that humans are the only animals impressed by lip-synching. And impressed I am! If I'm dancing with someone who can mouth the words to “Straight Up” as Paula is singing them, we're gonna be close friends. Similarly, if Roxette's “Joyride” is playing anywhere, a school dance, a shopping mall, a prison riot, I will drop whatever I'm doing and lip-synch the shit out of that song. But if you're like me and can't even recall the words to O Canada, lip-synching an entire song is next to impossible. Rather than admit defeat and burst into tears, which I know is your instinct, you must instead pretend to be distracted by something else while the lyrics you don't know are playing. That way, people never suspect you've lost the lyric, just that you're busy doing something else. At Katie's celebration, the deejay played Blondie's “Heart of Glass” and I ran to the dancefloor, beyond thrilled. It was only after I took my place in the centre of somebody else's dance circle that I realized I only know the part where she sings, “something something heart of glass” and then I'm totally lost until the “Ooh-ooh-oh-whooa's”. This meant I had to nurse my vodka tonic and wave to a fake person across the room for a full ninety seconds until the “Ooh-ooh-oh-whooa's” started. That shit is hard! If there had been lyrics posted everywhere, we all could have lip-synched the whole thing and made friends for life!

Dr. Jons. We should all be so lucky to have plus ones like mine to take to a party. Jon's absence was keenly felt at this last party, as will be the case for the upcoming Hallowe'en party and every other until we're both in the same province for awhile. It was a real shame I couldn't introduce him to my school chums, people I feel so close to that were part of some of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Beyond that, Jon has a way of working a room that I do not possess myself. I think you could stick Jon in pit full of tigers and within fifteen minutes, he'd be offering to supervise the PhD thesis of the smartest tiger and offering to pick another one up at the airport next Wednesday. That's just the kind of guy he is, I'm lucky to have him.

Really, these are only suggestions, and are far from requirements. The only thing any party absolutely needs is friends, and I'm lucky to have a lot of those. Best to get on the same wavelength with a couple of your dawgs and just ride it out. Surf's up.

1 comment:

  1. There may or may not have been a point there when I was so excited that you met Snake that I could not keep reading. You are now the coolest person I know.