Tuesday, October 9, 2007

In which Mike goes to a party

I realize that for the most part I don't really have regular readers. That's fine. This whole posting thing is more for me to vent my various weirdnesses than to entertain a specific following. But, to the extent that I do have readers, I figure the least I can do is entertain you.

OK, so the least I can do is actually to completely ignore you, but that's less fun.

As most people who know me have picked up by now, I'm something of a story teller at heart. I view my life as largely consisting of a string of amusing anecdotes. I'm not positive if more sitcom moments actually happen in my life than in most peoples', or if I'm merely more aware of them when they do. But the fact remains that I tend to end up with lots of random stories. So I'm now going to try writing up at least one of them a month (hopefully more frequently than that, but let's start with baseline goals), though admittedly in a less-than-polished form because it's just a blog entry. We'll see how long this experiment lasts.

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Parties have always somewhat mystified me. I know the standard view of college is lots of people partying pretty much whenever they aren't pulling desperate all-nighters, but that wasn't my experience. My friends and I did play a lot of party games in college, though. By this, I mean Trivial Pursuit, Taboo, that sort of thing. We weren't much into "drink till I puke" or "sleep with random strangers", games which I hear tell were quite popular in other social circles. Our "parties" also rarely even involved food or drink, unless they were potlucks. My view of parties might be a bit off because of this.

Nonetheless, I was randomly invited to a party last weekend by a guy I hardly know. I was told to bring a bottle of wine if I could, and since I had one on hand that I had no plans to drink myself, I figured what the heck. I even showed up an hour late, fighting against my normal compulsion to be places five minute early. Although the house number was not clearly visible from the street, I correctly surmised that the brightly lit house surrounded by a horde of 20- and 30-somethings was probably my destination.

As has already been mentioned, my view of parties may be somewhat off. But I do think this may have been the strangest party yet discovered by modern science.

For starters, there was the aspect of the spread. A first glance of the table indicated that it was pretty much a wine and cheese sort of party--crackers, cheese, bread, grapes, even shrimp on the table; various bottles of wine along the window sill. Eventually, though, my eye was drawn to the silver platter of...Hostess cupcakes. I doubt even Martha Stewart knows what fork to use to serve those.

Before arriving, I only knew my host. I thought this would be awkward. I soon learned, however, that basically no one knew more than a handful of other people before walking in. The guest list was a relatively random assortment of various people the host had met. Or not. While most seemed to be former dates, roommates, coworkers, friends, and relatives (including parents), there were also not only the dates of these people, but random other friends of theirs who had some free time. Or their siblings.

The lack of awkwardness in not knowing people was dutifully compensated for in the awkwardness of the people who did do the talking, however. I learned more than I ever intended to about online sites catering to May-December gay romances from a man clearly planning to be in the December category. I would have admired the self confidence involved in leaving his shirt unbuttoned to the navel more if he wasn't standing so close to me that I could make a good guess how long ago he had showered.

The party included live performance, in the guise of a band. The band set up in the third floor bedroom, which had apparently been recently reincarnated from a former life as an attic and was still getting its karma squared away. A projector was throwing images of seemingly random black-and-white stock footage onto the back wall and the fronts of the musicians--none of whom lived in the same city as each other, nor the city where the party was. The band consisted of:

~ Lead singer, on electric guitar
~ Backup singer, on electric banjo
~ Drummer
~ Guy who started out on the musical saw, later branching to accordion and trumpet

They took the tried-and-true method of making up for skill deficits with abundance of volume. Vast quantities of music spurted from their amplifiers, causing the floor to shake with each note struck. This did have the interesting effect of making the projected people dance even while they were doing things like climbing out fire escapes. I was glad at least someone was dancing to the music, as the room was way too small for us three dimensional types to try it.

Once my ears threatened to bleed, I made my escape from the band's room and retreated back to the first floor, where I attacked the cheese while listening to people discuss local politics. This was more what I imagined a wine and cheese party to be. Eventually, though, I realized that the two people discussing local politics were totally unaware anyone else was in the room. This may or may not have had something to do with the Jell-O shots sitting in front of them. After two hours at the party, I made my escape.

Lessons learned:

The primary activity at a traditional party is drinking. This is followed by making awkward small talk with strangers, and feeling music through your feet because your ears are so horrified by the volume that they quit alerting you to it.

Not knowing people is not an impediment when they don't know each other, and many of them are drunk anyway.

Being on the young side in a room full of somewhat tipsy gay men will make lots of people talk to you.

Escaping while things are completely chaotic does not make the host angry with you.

All in all, I'm glad I went. Still, it's not something I envision myself doing regularly. That is, until I find myself craving the twang of horsehair scraped against carpentry tools.

1 comment:

AdamX said...

You animal you. Rock on, Wiser, Rock on.