I do not like parties. It's not that I'm a totally asocial hermit who wants to spend the rest of her life living in a cave, wearing moth-eaten sweaters and letting all personal hygiene fall by the wayside. I like having friends. I like getting together with my friends.
But I like to get together and do something with my friends. Bowling. Paintball. Running Around and Hitting Things with Sticks. I'm up for quieter pursuits too, like painting-your-own-pottery or going to the movies. But the idea of just standing around and talking to people for hours does not appeal to me one bit. I always end up feeling awkward and out of place.
The older I get, the less parties appeal to me. (Perhaps not coincidentally, the older I get, the less I drink alcohol.) Christmas parties are the bane of my existence, particularly the work variety. It's just a big staff meeting with drink and dancing. I enjoy my co-workers, but I already get to enjoy them 40-hours a week. Let's keep a little mystery in our relationship.
Peter seems to really enjoy parties. He enjoys all the conversations and debates. He's understanding though and he knows I have a limited number of social interactions in me. My party attendance rate has probably hovered somewhere around 50%. And since we moved to the Middle of Nowhere, it's become something of a moot point since all of our friends are back in Dublin.
This year, I have implemented a no-party policy. Up until this year, I've dodged and danced, come up with excuses, negotiated attendance. ("OK, I'll go to the party with you, but unless I'm having a fabulous time, I'm going to leave at 11.") The approach wasn't very satisfying for anyone. I hated coming up with excuses and I'm a terrible liar.
Like every policy in the world, this one also has an exception - weddings of close friends. I can't explain it, but I love weddings and have a great time at them. In July, Middle Brother and I had so much fun at my high school friend K's wedding. I even danced, which is something that rarely happens in public since I have to co-ordination of a drunken hippo on roller skates.
The first test of my no-party policy came last month, when my football team won the county final. It was easy, in that I was able to do send my regrets via text and didn't actually have to speak to anyone. The coach was understanding about it and a teammate called when the team was on the way to the second stage of the celebration, the parade into town. Unfortunately, at that point, it was 9.30 and my pajama-clad body was just about to go to sleep.
After seeing pictures of the team riding through town on the back of a truck and the celebratory bonfires, I felt like I'd maybe missed out on something special and exciting. But my dislike of standing around awkwardly and how miserable that makes me outweighs the regret I have about skipping the parties. (I found out later they were in the pub until 2.30 and then at someone's house until 6. I'd not have been able for any of that.) I realise this makes me something of an oddity - the only person in the world who will weasel out of parties while quite happily attending training sessions - but I'm comfortable with my decisions.
The first real test of the no-party policy will happen soon: the office Christmas party. I missed it last year because they had it the day that I needed to go to Dublin for the start of the Cox Family Christmas celebrations. I don't want to have to lie or invent excuses. I want to just be able to say "Thanks for the invitation, but I won't be able to attend."