Who has two thumbs and is not in jail? This gal right here!
That’s right, kids: Mama BW went to a Fancypants Office Holiday Shindig and did not, I repeat, did not get herself arrested for spilling cocktail weiners on the CEO! Neither did she catch anything on fire (not even one thing! And there were even candles on the table, so, y’know, I rule), nor trip and fall on any longsuffering jazz musicians (despite there being a smooth jazz band right there, which is really just tempting fate), nor profoundly insult or embarrass anyone (that I’m aware of; I suppose it’s possible that there are grudges being nursed as we speak).
In other words, I went to a Big Grownup Party full of Big Grownup People and I survived…and so did everybody else! I’ll be signing autographs after the show.
For the curious, here’s how it went down, presented in convenient compare’n’contrast form.
The Fear: I admit, I was envisioning something similar to an eighth-grade dance. Y’know, chairs or tables in a ring around the room, dim lighting, all the cool kids in a cluster while all the rest of us smile vaguely at everyone in the hopes that at least we can avoid being actively shunned.
The Reality: This was not the company’s first rodeo, so they had conveniently pre-assigned seating in such a way that everyone had at least one friend/colleague at their table. In our case, we were seated with Moon Man’s Work BFF (and Bestie’s wife), both of whom are people we like a lot and have spent time with outside of the office. Voila! Conversational ice = broken. Score one for the home team.
The Fear: The invitation said something about drink tickets. I don’t drink much, so there were two equally terrifying possibilities: either I would be confronted with a full bar, in which case I would have to try to remember the name of any drink I enjoy (I usually default to White Russians, but really, who wants to carry around a glass of boozemilk at a Fancypants Party?!? Or, god help me, I could go with something ultra-shishifufu like a chocolate martini, but yowza.); or I would be presented with a wine list and have to figure out whether there would actually be any discernible difference between the Chateau de Schloofenfloogle 2007 Crisp Pillowy DandyFeathers Made With Fondled Grapes of Indeterminate Origin and the Damn the Man 2009 Vive La Revolution We Don’t Believe in Color Distinctions Made With Grapes That Actually Volunteered to Be Pressed.
The Reality: Again, not the company’s first rodeo. There was a bar–three of ’em, from what I could see–and they all offered your choice of beer (here are your four-count-them-four options) or wine (one each of red, white, and what I believe they call “rose” but which I secretly think of as “contaminated white”). I gave the nice lady a drink ticket and asked for “a glass of white wine, please”, and she asked exactly zero followup questions and poured my wine, which I then moseyed and sipped like I knew what I was doing. Score another one for the home team!
The Fear: Flying food. Oh, god, so much flying food. And extravagant spilling of sauces, and epic crises involving entirely too many hors d’oeuvre napkins and no trash cans (do I stuff them in my bra?!? Carry them around like trading cards?!? And what if there are things on sticks?!?).
The Reality: Have I mentioned that this wasn’t their first rodeo? There were discreet trash cans all over the place for your napkin-disposing convenience; and while there were things on sticks (chicken satay, to be precise), they were small portions on small sticks, so at no point did I have to figure out how to minimize the obscenity–or bloodshed–involved in deep-throating a skewer. And when dinner service rolled around, they had fashionably small plates, so that even if I had managed to spill my wild mushroom demiglace over someone, the most I could’ve spilled was about two tablespoons. Not that it mattered, because I didn’t spill anything! Not even one thing! …Ok, there was one bit of mushroom that made a mad escape attempt from my salad plate, but I caught it with my boob and the salad dressing ended up conveniently hidden in the printed pattern on my shirt. Tell no one. Score another for the home team!
The Fear: Wearing heels for the first time in months + the expectation of dancing = doom. Doom, doom, doom. Also possible YouTube immortality.
The Reality: Not their first rodeo. No dance floor. Please sit at your table and enjoy this nice smooth jazz rendition of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. Score two for the home team, for dual crisis avoidance.
The Fear: Company photographer taking official portraits, which means you know they’d catch me while I was attempting to shovel in an unreasonably large slab of roast beef and laughing at something someone had just said, so I’d look like a psychotic land shark let loose to terrorize the populace. Also, there would be salad in my teeth.
The Reality: Their first rodeo? Nope! They had caricature artists stationed around the room, so you could only have your picture done if you wanted to, and everybody looked a little ridiculous in their pictures.
My takeaway from this whole experience, then, is that this is another one of those situations where a person with fewer trust issues might have an easier time of it but a rational mind can still win the day: Moon Man works for a company that is very invested in maintaining a positive image and doing nothing to hurt their brand, so of course they’re going to have ironed out the bugs by now. Of course they’re going to have sorted out how to make everyone feel welcome and included. Of course they’re going to do everything they can to prevent people from making fools of themselves. They want to continue their track record of lovely and successful Fancypants Office Holiday Shindigs, and have been at it long enough to be able to predict most of the fail points and take preventive actions accordingly.
In other words, whether they knew it or not, they’d spent the last 20 years figuring out how to Buffalo-proof their Fancypants Office Holiday Shindig. And they’d done a darned fine job of it.
So watch out, kids: we’ll be back next year. And who knows? Maybe during the intervening months we’ll take ballroom dance lessons. Y’know, just in case.
P.S.–Am I the only one who didn’t know that they made nametags with magnets on the back now instead of safety pins?!? That was seriously the most mind-blowing part of the entire evening for me. Nametags that don’t leave holes in your clothes or sticky residue on your lapels…whodathunkit?!? That’s some crazy alchemical magic right there.