Monday, November 15, 2010

Going to your spouse's company holiday party? I'm sorry.

            Are you one of those poor souls stuck having to attend the company holiday parties arranged by your spouse’s employer? I feel your pain. After many years of practice, I am now comfortable speaking in front of large groups of people. My husband’s company Christmas party, however, brings on a serious case of the willies.

            “It’s nice to meet you. Chris has mentioned to me that you are a talented programmer.” Yes, this is a socially acceptable outright lie. While it is nice to meet this girl who is quite possibly half my age, I have to confess that my husband has never mentioned her. Of course, I might have gone to my happy place while he was speaking, but that’s not really the point, is it?

            “Do you have children?”

            “No, I don’t. I’m too focused on my career right now to start a family,” she answers.

            I nod and clear my throat, deciding not to mention that my eldest son is the same age she is. I also decide not to ask her if she’s married. My son really hates it when I fix him up. “Good for you,” I say in that overenthusiastic voice that makes me cringe when I hear it coming out of my mouth.

            She nods.


            “I’m a teacher,” I offer.


            My turn to nod.


            “I teach middle school English.”

            She grimaces. “Really?”

            “I’m afraid so,” I answer. Her response is not uncommon.

            “I don’t like kids,” she says.

            I smile broadly. “Me either.”

            She doesn’t get the subtle teacher joke. She obviously has never had a teacher who felt that it was her life’s goal to make children miserable.

            We look at each other for a moment, and then quickly focus our gazes on opposite sides of the crowded, too warm room. I’m having what might be called a hot flash if I were 6 months or so older, and inwardly cursing the impulse that led me to wear this festive red sweater.

            “I just finished reading the new Grisham novel. I had stopped reading his books for a while – they had gotten formulaic and were kind of boring – but I really liked this new one. Have you read it?”
            “I don’t read.”

            “Hmph!”  It’s the involuntary sound made when all of the air rushes out of your lungs. I eye her closely. She’s not kidding.

I raise my hand to attract the attention of the cute waiter with the tray of red and white wine, and then grab a glass of the Chablis as if it were the last life vest on the Titanic. This conversation, such as it is, is over.

            I hand her my business card. “Well, honey, if you ever want to learn how to read, give me a call. I’d be glad to teach you.”

            I left her staring after me with a puzzled expression on her face.

            “I don’t read?!” What-ev-a.


  1. Good one!
    I'm afraid I'll be having a migraine the night of the company party ;)

  2. That would be more pleasant, wouldn't it?