One of the more interesting Holiday Traditions practiced in Western culture is the Office Holiday Party. When I say “office” I actually mean any Holiday get together that the company has organized, sanctioned, and most importantly, paid for.
We had our party last night and it was quite the enjoyable affair. It’s always interesting, though, to observe the interactions of co-workers in an entirely social situation when you have removed what is often the only commonality for the participants: the work. Once you remove the work, co-workers often find they have very little in common besides the work. People, who normally have no other reason to interact with one another besides working at the same place, now find themselves making small talk and trying their best to remember their bosses’ wives names.
So the conversation inevitably turns to “shop talk”, leaving husbands, wives and other SO”s in the dark and in the dust. Add to all this social discomfort a little liquid courage, and you have an excellent recipe for some very entertaining shit.
Some annual events at the employee party that I look forward to year after year:
The hook-ups: which employees are going to get drunk, fall over each other on the dance floor, then slobber kisses on one-another, disappear for twenty minutes, only to re-appear with un-tucked shirts and disheveled hair.
The “What the Hell is Her Name Again?” introductions: Watching people meet a co-worker’s or the bosses’ wife or husband and, as they are doing the classic stall tactic of “Hello, how are YOU, so nice to see YOU again,” knowing they are racking their brain to remember the name of this person they have met at least 3 times before. One year, I met the husband of a server who never brought his name up in conversations at work except to bitch about him. He introduced himself to me with “Hi, I’m Jeanie’s husband. You know, ‘That Fucking Steve’…” I never had a problem with his name after that.
The “Omigod,they’re married to HIM/HER?” revelations: When a co-worker shows up with an S.O. you’ve never met, and they’re either show-stoppingly-attractive or bad-car-wreck ugly, in directly opposite proportions to the looks of the employee in question. `
The Outfit of The Night Award: People in restaurants generally wear uniforms, so when their true fashion sense is revealed for all to finally see, it can be a true epiphany. One year a charmingly ditzy co-worker remarked “Everybody looks so different with their clothes on.” There is always the one who will wear the white John Travolta suit or the dress with the daringly plunging neckline that would have been so much better off left in the closet.
The Surprise Conversation: Finally talking to someone from a different department that you had previously only said the cursory “Hello” or “Good Morning” to and finding out that they are either,
a) way more intelligent and interesting than you had assumed
b) dumber than a bag of hair; and you are now stuck in a 20 minute discussion about playing “World of Warcraft” online.
Drunken Dancing (ala Elaine Benes on the now-famous Seinfeld episode, done live and in living color): I actually did this to some success one year at a Christmas party for the wine distributor I used to work for. My wife is a terrific dancer. I suck. So, in the past when we had made attempts to dance in public, I would subvert my male ego’s desire to lead and just do the best I could not to crush her toes under my considerable bulk. But this night, after a couple of martinis, I decided I should finally take the lead. I led, she followed; and it was like Fred and Ginger had possessed our bodies. We looked so good it almost scared me into stopping. We were also the first ones on the dance floor, much to the chagrin of every male at the party, who now had wives/girlfriends saying, “Why don’t you ever dance with ME like that?”
The Drunken, “Serious” Conversation with The Boss: If your boss can only tell you how they “really feel” about you after several Margaritas, chances are you shouldn’t take anything they say too seriously. And you should probably be checking Craig’s List tomorrow morning.
So put down your plastic cutlery and raise your plastic wine glasses in a toast to all who will make the most of the office Holiday Party again this year, as an opportunity to enhance/undermine their job security. We who have “been there, done that, and got the T-Shirt” will enjoy the show.