I went to a fun party last night, given by a colleague and friend. The party’s host was Latino as were most of the guests. It was an interesting and eclectic bunch, although I do believe my husband and I were the only two folks there that did not have some variety of Spanish heritage.
Good food, great music and fun. We did a White Elephant gift exchange, which did not take long since everyone was happy with the gift they got to begin with. I decided to introduce a game called ” How’s Yours?” It is a very fun game, with no need for supplies. The rules are simple. One guest leaves the room and the rest of the guests decide on an item. It has to be something everyone in the room has, but can be a body part like lips or a possession like a sofa or car. The person who left is then called back in and can only ask each guest one question, ” How’s Yours?” The guest can only answer in one word adjectives. The person who gives the answer that allows the guesser to get the right object has to leave the room next. Fun game.
When we arrived at the party there were only a few people there. One couple and the father of the male of the couple, the sister of the hostess and the host and hostess. It seemed that things were just a bit tense. It soon became obvious why. The woman of the couple, who I will call Louise, was a handsome woman, I do not know how old she is, but she has three grown children, so no spring chicken. She had on a short, tight dress, a red coat which she kept on the entire evening, and spike heels, with a black organza bow near the open toe. My first thought was, where did she think she was going? My second thought was admiration that she could totter around on those high, high heels, especially at her age.
It quickly became apparent that Louise is the type of female who wants to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral, in other words she wants to be the center of attention. That is not necessarily a criticism, I have quite a bit of the same pathology myself. I do, however, I hope have more subtlety in my approach to garnering attention. This was the first time we had met Louise and her virtually non-verbal husband. I could not decide whether he did not have anything to say or if he simply could not get a word in edgewise to say it.
In order to start conversation I asked her what she did. She had asked where I worked first. She launched into a ten minute oration on her education, her career, etc. When she told me she had a doctorate I asked her what her dissertation was on, usually a good conversation starter among those Piled Higher and Deeper holders like myself. She stumbled on words for one of the few times that evening and I figured out she is not a Ph.D but an Ed.D., also known in academe as children of a lesser god.
Louise went on from the dissertation discomfort to tell me she is a “green belt” and Six Sigma and that she left the world of education after becoming disillusioned with the way education was conducted in the US. I have some sympathy with that position, having often said we need to burn it down and start over again, but she was not looking for a conversation. When I tried to insert my agreement with some of her statements she rolled right on telling me how much money she makes and how well her employers treat her, and reward her for doing well.
We could have had a good conversation about how society values certain things and people and disregards others , but, as I said, she was not interested in discourse, she was interested in performing. I actually was fascinated watching her, and wondering if I did not sometimes do the same thing. I know that I tend to be very comfortable being both the center of attention and sharing my views, but I certainly hope that I do not project a personna that not only will not allow anyone else time or space, but also indicates a truly deep seated insecurity. The need to convince people you do not know and may likely never meet again how wonderful you are is a sign that you are not so sure they will discover it for themselves in short order.
When we played ” How’s Yours” her answers were almost universally self-congratulatory, ” Sexy, Pretty, Expensive, a gift from God” in answer to the words, toes, feet, dining room table and tongue. I think you get the picture. She was trying so hard to be fabulous that she ended up being a parody of herself.
Her daughters, who were at the party, two beautiful young women, are very quiet, reserved, almost timid. I have known one of them for several years, the other for a couple of years. I always wondered why they are so shy, I now know why. There is no way the sun could get to seedlings in the shade of that Mama tree.
One of the other couples who came in later, a professor and his wife, are both fairly quiet, although both of them have a great sense of humor. My husband and I ended up talking to them quite a bit, mainly about the differences in race and racism between the North and the South–he is from Michigan originally, she is from New Hampshire.
During the game the wife of the couple, I will call her Nan, was empathetic to the point where she wanted to give the clue that could allow the person guessing to get the right answer. Louise kept yelling at her telling her ” don’t say anything ( or actually anythin, she did have an accent) more!” Yet, during the game Nan, with her quiet laugh and pleasant, outgoing nature, managed to steal the spotlight more than one time with her answers and her good humor. If you asked the other guests who they would invite to their own party, Nan or Louise, I do not think it would be any kind of contest.
So, my first party of the holiday season has given me food for thought. I need to take the lesson learned by watching the would be diva perform and be less flamboyant myself. If you are fabulous people will figure it out, if they do not then you always have your own knowledge of your marvelousness to comfort you. And, you will not have made a fool of yourself in front of a bunch of people!
I am giving a rather large ( 24!) dinner party next week myself. I hope people do not mind sitting on the stairs to eat! Actually I will have enough space for everyone, but some may have to balance plates on their laps on the couch or in a chair. I willq1have three tables, the dining table seats six, the card table four and I will clean off the computer table in the study and seat four so only ten will have to find a roost, and hopefully everyone will not arrive at once.
Although being the hostess does carry with it some kind of guaranteed star power, I will try very hard to make my guests the center of attention. I will have to recognize that the turkey may, however, be the star for at least part of the evening.
Hope your holiday party season is fabulous! If you are not invited to a party, throw one! 🙂