Thursday, December 08, 2005


Tonight is our office holiday party. I know this not just because of the colorful invite tacked to my bulletin board, but because the ladies' room is suddenly filled with women putting on makeup and doing their hair. The party starts in an hour - time to get ready to GO!!

I have a long convoluted history with holiday events, starting with my first job out of college in a major department store. We didn't have an official party because it was our busiest time of year, but there was a dinner/dance held each spring to celebrate the store's anniversary that allowed everyone to dress up in formal attire, meet each others' significant others and drink too much.

Still, there always was a party in the stock room on Christmas Eve to celebrate the fact that hell was almost over. (Until the big rush for returns on Dec. 26, followed by the inevitable after-Christmas sales. Okay, all we were celebrating was that we had the next day off.) My first year, there was really good punch in the shoe stockroom, which was dangerously close to where I was stationed at a register. I got viciously drunk. At one point, with a line full of customers, I simply excused myself to go to the bathroom and walked away. I have no idea how they reacted, as I forgot to return to the register (hitting the stockroom on the way back, of course) but the weird thing is, nobody seemed to notice, and I never got in trouble for it. Later that night, at closing, my cute-as-a-button manager gave me a (chaste) holiday kiss and I was so startled I blinked too hard and my contact lens fell out. I spent Christmas blind in one eye.

My next employer rented out a hotel ballroom for lunch and an afternoon of drinking, dancing, and carousing. Every year there was entertainment - we had karakoe once, and played "Family Feud" another time, for example. For some odd reason that year I was Vanna White - mostly because our Richard Dawson host needed a sidekick, and I looked okay in a slinky dress back then. I have it all on videotape and it's pretty sad. Not only are "Richard" and I drunk, but so is the cameraman. I have the karaoke year on tape, too, which features our CEO making a speech that included not one but two racially insensitive (read: obnoxious) comments. I am secretly hoping he runs for office or something so I can sell the tapes to the Smoking Gun.

Near the end of my time at that company, holiday parties were discontinued. Instead, they gave us a mediocre buffet in a conference room where people crowded together with soggy paper plates and cans of warm soda.

At my next job, I was in charge of planning the parties - we had a small office so it was more of a large dinner with open bar. The best part was that I got to sample a bunch of restaurants before choosing, so got a lot of excellent free lunches. I'd learned my lesson about drinking at work and was pretty well-behaved at the actual parties. Well, up until the very last year, when I somehow wound up back at the office with a male co-worker - well, let's just say we weren't going over the books (although we may have knocked some over.)

In the last job, the party was right after work, in a large conference room in the building crammed full with 500 people, with wine and beer and loud music and crappy appetizers from the employee cafeteria. I hadn't planned the event, but another person on my team did, and she asked me to help stand at the door and give people nametags. It was as boring as it sounds.

Tonight? Planning on being low-key and social. I think I've had my fill of "fun" at these things, and I forgot to set my VCR for "Survivor" and the finale of "The Apprentice."


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