Every year my wife and I pin my company’s holiday party on our calendar for exactly three reasons:
1. It’s a rare excuse to spend quality time together in an adult setting in nice clothes.
2. It’s a free dinner.
3. They’re generous about giving out door prizes to the majority of the attendees.
It’s been a few years since my last door prize, but I try not to give up hope for the first few hours of the party, during which she and I do our best to pass the time with not much to keep us occupied except each other and pure imagination. This is not as easy for us as it is for normal people. We don’t dance or drink. Those I call “friend” usually find reasons to bow out. Those I call “happy acquaintance” are great at pre-planning their seating arrangements with their longtime closer friends. The two of us usually find an empty table, establish our own Island of Misfit Diners, and grant asylum to other loners or latecomers seeking refuge. It’s a necessary service we’re used to providing.
I know of at least one year in which we left early and forfeited my prize because we broke the must-be-present-to-win rule and left at a reasonable hour. I dislike forfeiting prizes, but sometimes it’s in our best interest to let someone else have that blessing. This year, word along the grapevine was that the door-prize-to-attendee ratio was nearly even, and winning something was foregone if one merely lasted out the party until the very last drawing was completed. Because the grapevine is my least favorite communication medium, I decided to be stubborn about it and stick around until all prize drawings were completed, thankfully with my wife’s permission since she demands more sleep than I do. Either I was coming away with a door prize, or I was coming away with an anecdotal rebuttal for any future year in which someone ever again tried encouraging me to stay past her bedtime.
Unfortunately, my stubbornness meant we had twice as much time to kill as usual, and we forgot to bring a deck of cards. Consequently, I found myself crankier than usual, more sensitive to how the party and I weren’t exactly getting along.
If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, as the minutes crawl you might notice little telltale clues suggesting you and the holiday party might be failing each other:
* The dessert options are mostly carrot cake (my arch-nemesis since junior high).
* The dance floor remains 100% empty during “Gangnam Style”, but is stampeded by mad throngs racing up for the chance to slow-dance to “Unchained Melody”.
* You begin counting how many ceiling tiles need to be replaced (two above our table alone).
* People from the popular tables steal your table’s empty chairs.
* You nearly succeed at napping.
* The best song they play all night is “Love Shack”.
* You start writing to-do lists.
* You start writing this list.
* You and your date find yourselves taking still-life photos of the stuff on your table.
All of these happened. We persevered nonetheless. I’m technically happy to report that I did win a door prize, though I nearly missed it because of almost giving up, and because the announcer twice misread my name as “Ronald”. As silent retaliation, my wife filled her purse with more than our share of free candy before we left. Victory is ours.