Hope this doesn’t make me sound like Scrooge or anything, but I’ve got to be honest. ‘Tis the season for parties and I’d rather stick a fork in my eye. Don’t get me wrong. I really like the Christmas season. I can handle shortbread and mince tarts just fine. Veggies and dips are good. I’m even okay with fruit cake, especially the West Indian version, which is called rum cake. For good reason, because the fruit steeps in it for a year.
Egg nog makes me gag, but I can usually get out of drinking that.
I’m fine with getting together with friends and family. It’s company parties I’m referring to. Oh, those are painful. When I worked full time I used to DREAD the agency Christmas blow-outs! To begin with, there could never just be a party. There was always ‘business’ to attend to first. The endless speeches and presentations. The year-end business results. The ‘highlights’ from the last twelve months. As if we couldn’t remember them.
By the time it was done, you were in a coma (if you were lucky), and in desperate need of a drink. Because Management knew the only way to make sure the staff didn’t become unruly, was to keep the bar closed until after they were done with the droning on and on.
Then we had to perform. The staff. You know, like circus animals. There were ALWAYS skits and performances. No one was exempt. NO ONE! The other day I blogged about my life and how I had no regrets. Well it turns out I was lying. I now realize that, for the rest of my life, I will always regret not calling in sick the day of those parties.
The ‘talent’ portion of the evening, and I’m using the term very loosely, was beyond excruciating. For a bunch of ‘creative’ folks, let me tell you, we were pretty damn pathetic. Department after department were hauled up on stage. The skits were beyond lame. Humiliating. And then there were those who were brave enough, or stupid enough, or deluded enough, or stoned out of their minds enough, to go it alone. They did solo performances.
Tap danced. Sort of. Imagine what you’d look like if a dozen or so bricks fell on your foot. The shower-singers in the crowd would get up and massacre a song. Making karaoke seem like the best of Broadway. Others recited poetry. Making us all wish we were with the dead poet’s society. We had baton twirlers. And still others who, somehow, managed to coax the rudest of noises out of saxophones and trumpets. DON’T ASK!! Simon Cowell would have had a field day! In hindsight, I should have tried my hand at sword swallowing, swallowed down the wrong pipe, skewered my liver by mistake, and happily bled to death.
It still makes me cringe.
There was, however, one gal at Ogilvy who did have a beautiful operatic voice. Every year she’d suddenly ‘pop up’ at her dinner table, out of the blue, and sing Ava Maria. A cappella. One song, in the middle of the meal and that was that. Then she’d sit down again, until the following year.
Come on, surely you’ve had at least one similar experience.
No matter where you work, no matter what the industry the parties, and the outcomes, are always the same. Always. Somebody always drinks way too much. I mean way too much. And they vomit somewhere inappropriate. Like in front of the elevators. Or they tell the boss what they really think of him. In front of a bunch of colleagues. Or his boss. Or, mercifully, they just pass out somewhere. And don’t re-surface for a few days.
There is always one jackass who tapes some plastic mistletoe to his forehead and parks himself outside the little girls’ room. And as soon as some poor, unsuspecting woman with a full bladder shows up, he follows her in and grabs her before she can lock herself in the stall. And speaking of the ‘facilities’, there’s also always one female in there who is well on her way to becoming totally loaded. She’s well past the point of having a good time. Now she’s melancholy. She’s got tears and mascara running down her cheeks. Her false eyelashes are all askew, because the glue’s wet from all the crying. Her lipstick’s badly smudged. Best ignored.
She’s got you captive. You have to pee. Where else are you going to go? She grabs hold of you and hangs on for dear life, because she’s got to tell someone, all the sordid details, of all the miserable relationships she’s ever had. And it’s your lucky day. It’s not that I’m a cold-hearted bitch. Honest, I’m not. But who needs to know this information? Who wants to know this information? It only makes the next day, when you have to face each other in the office, that much more painful. That much more embarrassing. Especially if she’s your boss. Which she sometimes is. Which isn’t good. Because as soon as the alcohol is totally out of her system and she remembers what she told you, your days of working for that company are numbered.
Let’s not forget the pot-luck lunch/gift exchange events on December 24th. In my experience that was always the day the office was meant to close at noon; and didn’t re-open until after the New Year. But it never closed at noon. Because one employee cheerleader always managed to convince the boss that it would just be so much fun, if everyone brought a dish and we all ate together. And picked names from a hat and bought gifts for under $10 for each other. Isn’t it called Mystery Santa? I’ve blocked it out.
Anyway. It’s another misery. Because everyone just wanted to get the hell out of there at noon. So they could finish their Christmas shopping or meet friends for lunch. Or go for a flipping manicure. But no, the cheerleader always got her way. And it just ‘looked bad’ if you didn’t go, so we were all stuck. We were lucky if we got out of there by 5:30 or 6:00. Ho Ho Ho.
It’s not that I’m not appreciative. It’s not that I don’t think it’s nice that the heads of companies show their appreciation for all the hard work and late hours and missed anniversaries. But why not just give everyone an extra week’s vacation instead? Or some money to take spouses out to dinner? Or the family away for the weekend? Or use the money to buy all the fixings for a Christmas dinner at a homeless shelter? I don’t know.
What do you think? Do you like going to company Christmas parties? Am I just being a grouch? The grouch that stole Christmas?