Monday, December 20, 2010
I'm not going to lie: all year long I look forward to December's glut of holiday parties. I fantasize about canapés and cocktails, and stunning dresses and strappy heels and shiny baubles that I will somehow wear despite the 40-degree weather and the fact that I am perpetually broke.
What I seem to have an uncanny ability to repress, though, is the central horror of holiday parties: the obligation to get approximately 500 relatives and family friends up to date on your life without horribly depressing them.
"If I told people what was actually going on," Zoe mused yesterday while sipping her drink in the anti-social corner we'd staked out next to the dessert table at my father's holiday open-house, "I think they'd finally stop asking me."
I know just what she means. There are parts of my life that are great, but there's also plenty that's too complicated to get into without trapping myself in a long conversation. Back when I was single, if a random guy struck up a conversation at a bar and I knew I would never see him again, I would often make things up. Once I said I was a flamenco dancer. I don't know why I lied... it just seemed easy, and non-committal.
Look, I know that people mean well, and that they might genuinely be interested in my (or my sister's) life, but repeating the same chipper, glossed-over, fake-happy version of the past 11 months to an endless stream of acquaintances you only see once a year while double-fisting plastic cups of wine and trying to stuff your face with pita chips gets old quick. Luckily, the questions are always the same, and so you can prepare ahead of time:
"So, how's life?"
Honest answer: "Long and confusing and probably ultimately unsatisfying and meaningless, just like Lost. Did you believe they all died at the end?"
Correct answer: "Great! How are you?" [Listen, nod for up to three minutes, then leave under the auspices of refilling your wine, never to return.]
"Are you still at [job you left four years ago]?"
Honest answer: "No, I got fired from that place for threatening--allegedly--to set my desk on fire after my boss refused to give me a raise. Then I played online poker for awhile, until it got to the point where I didn't even bother to put on pants for the Chinese delivery man. Now I work from home writing a Twitter feed about funny stuff my cat does. I think I'm pretty close to landing a book deal."
Correct answer: "Yup! Can't complain." [Smile until your lips start to actually crack, then back slowly away towards the cheese plate.]
"How's married life treating you?"
Honest answer: "Lately, whenever one of us goes to the bathroom, we make the touchdown sign with our hands. Does that mean the magic is gone?"
Correct answer: "Why, do you swing?"
But that might make them think twice about asking next year...