Last night was my company’s Christmas party. I usually attend every year, although I am not really a party guy. (Okay, let’s face it. I just plain don’t “do” parties.) But we have a pretty small company and there are a number of people here I get along with pretty well, so there’s almost always somebody I can hang around and chat with for the evening. I don’t partake in alcohol, not so much by choice but more because I can’t stand the taste of any of it, so usually I’ll hang around with somebody else from Michigan or another car buff who I can talk shop with.
Anyway, this year we had our party at the fancy-schmancy La Playa resort right on the beach. I decided to really outdo myself so I put on a black button-down shirt, black pants and a pewter jacket. Normally I don’t do formal, either, but I thought I’d try something different. So anyway I drove down to the club at 7:00, bumping Knight Rider tunes in the ol’ Pontiac, and promptly discovered that if I wanted to go to this shindig, I would have to valet my car. Okay, six and a half years of ownership and I have never let a valet touch the Trans Am. Worse yet, I had no cash to tip the guy with. But I left it in the kid’s “capable” hands (praying to God he’d remember to release the parking brake before driving off) and went on in.
The setting was really quite nice, I must say. The evening began with drinks on the terrace, which faced a small inlet from the gulf. Across the water you could see these multimillion-dollar houses all lit up. It was pretty cool. During drinks one of the waitstaff knocked a table over, spilling drinks all over my friend’s feet and breaking about three wine glasses. Yeah, okay. Shortly after that the food was served, so we went inside.
The food was great. They had four big tables set up inside, and there were two buffet tables up front with everything from salad, to pasta, to sauteed mushrooms, to some REALLY GREAT chicken. An acquaintance of one of our employees was on hand playing guitar and singing some selections from The Beatles, CCR and other well-known artists. About halfway through dinner the CEO got up and made his annual “rah rah” speech, and then in a most unorthodox fashion, six or seven other employees were goaded into giving speeches about basically the same thing. (“The best thing about this company are the people! 2004 was great, but 2005 is gonna be even better! Tally-ho!”) Finally the Chief of Accounting put a stop to all the speeches because it was getting ridiculous.
After dinner everybody just sat around schmoozing, imbibing drinks at the bar, or dancing around in a fit of drunken glee. I snapped pictures with my digital camera. Even shot a few quick movies of people making fools of themselves, which was especially humorous. As 10:00 approached, I was basically hanging around talking with the boss and a friend about Detroit, Corvettes and the Pontiac Fiero.
That’s when it started to get freaky. One of our newer employees, who I hang around and chat with now and then during the average workday, was totally trashed. She was dancing like a lunatic with any man who got close enough, and when I happened to enter her general vicinity while taking pictures, she ordered me to dance. Ohhhhhkay. I am not anywhere near drunk enough, I told myself, to do anything even remotely like what she is doing here; it looks like Elaine’s dance from Seinfeld or something. It was quite clear that she was completely drunk and I tried to laugh it off.
She started to get all nutty on me, saying that since I was supposed to be such a creative person, the best way to express that creativity was to GET DOWN ON THE FLOOR, FOOL! Whatever, I’m thinking. When the song is over she then starts to get all in my face—I mean literally her face was an INCH from mine; I had to turn my head to the side in order to breathe—and she’s bobbing her neck around like an ostrich on morphine, trying to get me to join her and some other people (who were never identified) at a local club after the party.
Where is this club? I asked her, stalling for time while I tried to figure out how to get away from her. It’s right down the street, she says. She promises me that I can just come with her just for a few minutes and check the place out; if it’s not my scene I can leave. That seems like an odd comment to make, so I ask her what kind of club this is. She says it’s a gay bar.
SORRY! HOMEY DON’T PLAY DAT.
At this point one of our female account managers swoops in and grabs my arm, starts tugging on it and proclaiming that “Let go; he’s mine!” The drunk lady abruptly gets me in this humongous bear hug and slams me against the wall, completely blocking anyone else from reaching me. “Please, don’t fight over me!” I joke, all the while wondering when this shit is going to stop. Finally drunk lady backs off and says very sternly to me, “All right, I’m going outside to the bar for a few minutes, and when I get back I want an answer from you, whether you’re going to the club with me or not! You are NOT to leave without giving me your answer!” So then she went outside and promptly started to monopolize the conversation the CEO was having with the CFO.
The account manager (“He’s mine!”) suddenly sobered up and revealed that she had come by to rescue me from the other crazy lady. “I saw what was going down from across the room,” she says, “and I thought, oh my God, I have to save him.” We had a good laugh over it, although I was still a bit spooked. It’s probably tough to express how weird I felt, especially since my readers don’t know any of these people, but the drunk lady was someone who I’d actually worked with quite often since she was hired, and whose way of thinking I found refreshing. She’s good at what she does. So it was really weird for me to see her bouncing off the walls. I guess I’m just not used to the transformations people undertake when they’re intoxicated, not being someone who’s ever gotten plastered and all.
At this point, since it was about 10:30 and many people had left, I decided to slip out before this very boisterous woman came back and demanded that I join her for a date at the gay bar. I retrieved my car from the valet and went home singing “Eye of the Tiger,” which wasn’t even on the radio or anything, but which was filling my head probably as a defense mechanism against all the FUCKING WACK-ASS SHIT I’d just dealt with. Eventually I put the Knight Rider disc back on and slammed the volume to the point where my interior trim was vibrating. I never do that either. But something about being out late at night on semi-deserted roads, driving a black Trans Am, pimpin’ the Knight Rider theme…fuck all yes, it’s awesome. Just take my word for it.
Anyway, that was the story of the Christmas party. All-in-all, an enjoyable evening. A little weird at the end, mostly for me since I’m not typically exposed to that kind of thing, but everything ended up cool. (And today at work, Mrs. Liquor was back to her usual self, with no mention made of the previous night’s events, thankfully.)
Speaking of today, it’s been going great so far. I’ve been plenty busy at work, but all of the management staff are gone—including the two noisiest drama-queen employees, which is great. It’s just me, the account managers and the IT guys, all busy working on our projects. Jussssst like it should be. Someone brought pastries in this morning, and the programmers received T-shirts and trinkets from ThinkGeek courtesy of their manager. (One guy got a T-shirt that says “There’s no place like 127.0.0.1,” and another’s read “Resistance is futile (if <1 ohm)".) I got a nifty National Geographic Adventure cap from one of our clients who likes my work. I've got Knight Rider tunes on the headphones (again) and plenty of logos to Photoshop. And this evening, I'm gonna jet a little early and pick up a last-minute gift for someone. Then I'm going home to watch Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and finally begin filling that large cultural gap in my existence. Our cable internet was out all night long, but my wife reports that it finally came back online, so everything is go. Ready for the weekend!!