Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Office Christmas Party

God but I hate office Christmas parties. Lame, lame, lame. Mine was last night. I didn’t go, of course. But that certainly wasn't going to stop people from harassing me. First I get a call from a young friend I haven't talked to in months because of the fallout. Then I get a call from "the one that got away" who's there for whatever reason.

"Why aren't you at the party?"
"Oh, I don't know. I guess it's because I have to spend all day with those retards, and I'm not exactly inclined to give up a hard-earned evening away from them. Call me selfish, but watching my coworkers get plowed knee-walking drunk while fighting over a Craftsman tool set during Dirty Santa isn't really my idea of having a good time celebrating the birth of a dude who's ultimately going to off himself via his virgin-birthed son. Bye." [click]

Office Christmas parties are inherently flawed, as The Office's Christmas episode brilliantly pointed out last week. Did you see it? That's the most awkward 1 hour of television I've seen in years. The last time I was that uncomfortable watching a show, the whole family sat down to enjoy Buddy Hackett live on HBO in 1982. Who knew The Love Bug veteran had a mouth on him? If I'm not mistaken, mom remarked, "Why don't you just drag a garbage can into the living room and watch it?" Ouch.

Anyways, office Christmas parties are doomed from the start. Why? Well…

It's the one night of the year in the south when teetotalers (closet drinkers) and hardcore drinkers (closet Baptists) finally meet. It's hard to describe. It's sort of like a combination of The Days Of Wine And Roses and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. "Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring ting tingling too…"

It's the one night of the year when the south reverts to Montgomery, Alabama circa 1845, complete with black servants wearing white and white people wearing down black servants.

It's the one night of the year when employees try to eat and drink their yearly salary in food and adult beverages in an effort to get back at "the man". Inevitably that ends with a headache and beaucoup resentment.

It's the one night of the year when spouses and significant others get to see their spouses and significant others get a little tipsy and hit on the chesty receptionist. Again.

Last year I heard someone giving advice on NPR's Sound Money about how to handle the office Christmas party, which was, essentially, to cover the room in a circle, saying hello to everyone, chatting briefly, limiting oneself to 2 drinks maximum, staying only as long as it takes to visit with each person in attendance.

That's insane. 2 drinks? Call me old fashioned, but 2 drinks is the alcoholic equivalent of foreplay without the actual sex part. Blueball Fest 2006. And if I had to chat with everyone in the room, I'm going to need to do a couple lines in the men's room. Because talking to some of these people is like being paired with a midget in the 3-legged race at the church picnic. Someone's gonna get his feelings hurt.

In past gatherings, I've usually had the unfortunate luck of getting trapped in a corner with some divorced, under-sexed ad exec lady who for Christmas really needs to get a T-shirt that says "I [heart] self-medication" and who wants to talk about work.

"Great party."
"I thought that project turned out great."
"Uh… Which one?"
"The one with the little kids and the guy in the wheelchair."
"Yeah, I didn't work on that one."
"Oh. Right. Did you know I haven't had sex in 5 years?"
"Is that more Krab dip!? Excuse me. I love that stuff…"

Then there's the unavoidable play-by-play the next day.

"Oh man. You should've been there. Steve's wife broke a bottle over her head, squeezed Heather's ass, and then threw up all over the boss's daughter! It was awesome!"
"Yeah, sorry I missed that. Although that would explain why Steve's secretly gay, wouldn't it?"

And let's not forget the half-dozen or so 45-minutes-late-to-work Walks Of Shame past the front desk. Sweet.

You know, Christmas is bad enough as it is. The last thing I need to ram that point home is a bunch of hypocrites pretending not to loathe each other for 3 hours. And that's just the married couples.

Happy Holidays!
Happy Holidays!
Let the merry bells keep ringing.
Happy Holidays to you!



Dawn Coyote said...

I used to stay away from office Christmas parties because I didn't want any of those people to see me drink. Now I stay away as an exercise of the same courtesy in reverse: I don't want to challenge the fragile regard I have for the people I work with by seeing them interact without their normal sense of social restraint.