Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Party Line

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."


At 1 October 2008 at 18:31, Blogger Lola said...

We are clearly kindred spirits - I agree with every word, except for weddings. I hate them too. I've already told all my eligible friends in no uncertain terms that while I love them dearly, if they should get married I won't be attending the wedding. And we didn't invite anyone to our wedding except one of my sisters and Andy's son.

The only party I've attended in the last two years (at least) is one that we held ourselves, and I was somewhat surprised that I enjoyed that!

I don't have a problem agreeing to party invitations but saying I'll check my diary, and then finding something else important that clashes, whether real or invented.

At 1 October 2008 at 18:36, Blogger Noelle said...

Our office tried to have a Christmas party, but you're right: it was just like a staff meeting, but with pasta. I hope we skip it this year, and just get bonuses.

At 1 October 2008 at 18:40, Blogger Babaloo said...

I so know what you're talking about. I'm not a party person either. Although, occasionally I manage to have a good time. :) But I much rather spend time with friends at a nice dinner.

At 1 October 2008 at 19:24, Blogger Kaycie said...

You're not so odd. I hate parties and I always have, even as a kid. I spent years of my former professional life organizing the company picnic, which of course means attending until the last guest leaves. Oy.

I'm lucky in that my husband hates them, too. However, he will occasionally attend a work party at Christmas. Last year he went alone. He doesn't see any need for both of us to suffer needlessly. What a guy!

At 1 October 2008 at 20:54, Blogger Sparx said...

I've gone off parties in my old age too... and I've learned there is nothing wrong with having no excuse but just saying 'thank you for the invitation but I won't be able to attend'. For people who don't know you well, if they pry cite 'personal reasons'... for friends who pry, just say that you're feeling exhausted. I'm turning things down these days as well, feels good, hey?

At 1 October 2008 at 23:04, Blogger Felix said...

I'm going to treat myself this year by giving the department x-mas party a miss.And you're absolutely right in doing the same.

At 2 October 2008 at 01:39, Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Oh I'm so with you on this one, though I do love small intimate dinner parties where everyone sits around and tosses ideas and opinions but the big parties frighten me a lot even though I go against my better wishes and then sneak off quietly and get into trouble later for doing so. How does one leave properly? I try saying goodbye and they all insist I stay or dance with me to force me. Misery extended.
Weddings too, unless I'm at a table where I know everyone well.

At 3 October 2008 at 02:20, Blogger Irene said...

I used to have to go to my first husband's office parties (Christmas parties, picnics, dinner dances) and I always abhorred going to them and felt like a party pooper for not being happier at them. On top of that, I was unhappily married, so you can imagine the joy I had at these things. I like going to parties now, but I am rarely invited to any.I must give one myself.

At 3 October 2008 at 04:25, Blogger The Rotten Correspondent said...

Amen, sister.

At 4 October 2008 at 13:10, Blogger stwidgie said...

Don't blame you a bit. Sometimes I'm up for being around lots of people, and sometimes I think, "I can't think of a thing to say to anyone." Even bought a self-help book (now there's something to give up for a year, eh?) called 'Mingling' with strategies for just that kind of thing.
The one thing I will not do anymore is baby showers. Not being a mother myself, I feel very left out at these, and my solidarity with my friends doesn't require me to suffer in this way.
There! That feels better!
Stick to yer guns.

At 6 October 2008 at 22:38, Blogger -Ann said...

I am so glad to hear that I'm not the only one who feels this way. The Irish are a very social lot, so I sometimes feel a little bit like a freak that I'm an introvert. :)


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