The pizza had just arrived. Before I could take my first bite, the subject of my husband’s company cocktail party surfaces. “Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t want to go,” I say with steadfast determination. “I’ve already made sure that chairs will be available,” he counters, attempting to make the event seem easy, cozy, attractive even. Then, as he points at me with the tip of his piping hot slice of pepperoni pizza, he gets all serious and a little pouty. “Look, I run the company. It would mean a lot to me if you came. My staff and colleagues are looking forward to meeting you. ” On the inside, I roll my eyes, feeling a little irritated that some of the melted cheese from the pizza was still stuck to his face. If I’m not there, who will make sure he wipes off his chin, which was now dripping with grease and mozzarella?
Resigned, and feeling slightly manipulated, I agree to join in on the merriment.
Gilles’ mom once told me that sometimes you just have to do things you don’t want to do, like get a root canal, euthanize your pet lizard or unplug the toilet. And, going to this cocktail party was right up there in the category of things to avoid.
At cocktail parties, everyone usually stands around with a drink in hand, eating hors-d’oeuvres and chatting. I’m all good with the chatting and eating part. I also enjoy meeting new people. It’s the standing around that is the most difficult. When it hurts to stand for more than 5 minutes because of nerve pain in your feet, it is hard to feel relaxed at these events.
After no more than 5 minutes after our grand entrance, my anxiety rises and I desperately scan the room for a chair or something to lean on. Rocking back and forth, relieving pressure first on the right foot, then on the left, the right, the left, I wondering if the other guests are noticing my discomfort. So as to not look too silly, I even start bopping my head and swinging my hips to the beat of the music, as if I were lightly dancing and really into the melody. (This probably made me stand out that much more, but at the time, it seemed reasonable.)
10 minutes is my max tolerance before I excuse myself from whatever superficial conversation I am engaged in and plop down right into the arms of my new best friend- the chair. Thank God – the pressure is off of my aching soles. I wave to Gilles, just to show him where I’ve landed. Colleagues in tow, Gilles slowly makes his way toward me and over the noise, the music, the laughter, I overhear, “…… foot problems……can’t stand too long…..pain.” One of his cohorts, wearing a glittery cocktail dress and 10-inch heels chimes in, trying to relate to my situation, “Oh, my feet are killing me too! Ouch! I just have to slip these off….what women wouldn’t do to look their best! Staring down at my bulky size 10 (mens) hiking shoes, I could not take it anymore. “OMG, can we leave now?” I pleaded to deaf ears. “I just can’t relate to these people and they obviously can’t relate to me.” But, my protests were drowned by the noises of background laughter, glasses clinking and live, blasting music.
Loving the comfort of my chair, people politely stop by to say hi, but no one really wants to sit with me. Why? Because it is a COCKTAIL PARTY and people STAND at cocktail parties. As a seated attendee, engaging in casual or meaningful conversation with a standing guest just translates into craning of the neck in an upward position for an extended amount of time. The result? A trip to the chiropractor’s the following day. So, to bypass unnecessary appointments and self -afflicted neck pain, I set my gaze forward, looking straight in front of me. From this vantage point, the scenery is mostly just crotches and belt buckles. That’s exactly what I wrote – crotches and belt buckles!! Yep. Can you say, awkward? What’s worse, if the room is crowded, intimacy is quickly forgotten with up-close views of back pockets and butts. Feeling pretty helpless, I just end up praying that no one passes gas too close to my face. Escape would be difficult.
I usually get a few stragglers who spend some time talking about how mean Gilles is as a boss (just kidding), but mostly I pretend to be really busy on my phone, answering urgent messages, texting and making note of some vital, earth-shattering information.
I’m usually overjoyed when it is time to leave. Another holiday party over. Check! In all honesty, I think I would have rather unplugged the toilet.
There is no moral to this story, but here are a few thoughts:
- If you want to see crotches and belt buckles up close and personal, attend a cocktail party. Make sure to sit for the entire duration of the party so you’ll be able to relate to my experiences.
- Feign sickness and just don’t go to standing only events. Stay home, watch a movie and cuddle with your cat or dog. It’s much more relaxing and the therapeutic value is undeniable.