Free-Floating Hostility

Friday, December 03, 2004


The Holiday Party from Hell

Last night Free-Floating Hostility was guests at a Christmas party hosted by an editor at the paper. Mike went last year and told me I had to go this year "so that you can understand." Indeed, his description hardly conveyed the full effect.

Our host (whom I have promised not to name) begins putting up Christmas decorations the day after Halloween and finishes just in time for his annual party. Blinking colored lights cover the front of the house from top to bottom and side to side, then sprawl over the lawn and a trellis constructed over the path to the back room. Cutouts of the Grinch and other trademarked holiday cartoons are posed sinisterly underneath two flashing signs reading "Santa Checks his list...TWICE!!!!" and "Don't just park and look, turn on 106.4 AM", this last because our host pirates radio waves for two months out of the year in order to broadcast Christmas carols to approximately four houses. An electric train runs overhead as you wander, stunned, to the back door, where the host greets his "friends" and coworkers.

The interior of the house is full of snoopy-related merchandise of every description from handbells to impressionist watercolors. One of the party games prepared for this occasion is Count the Snoopies. I don't know if some kind of meaty prize was involved, but certain older guests were taking the party games very seriously, and harrumphed at me indignantly for standing in front of a snoopy and throwing off their count.

We made our way to the kitchen where our host's surprisingly normal wife was offering cider and mild humor (we stopped to greet Mike's ex-boss who left the paper to write Christian Young Adult fiction and who by the end of the night was overheard imitating Snoop Dogg) and took our place by the artfully arranged Williams Sonoma chocolates and a TV displaying a DVD of a crackling fireplace. Our host sidled up and asked if we had seen the second story. "There's more?" I said faintly. There was. A whole floor dedicated to floor-to-ceiling shelves of snoopies and woodstocks and another electric train running around the base of a snoopy-festooned Christmas tree.

When we made our way back downstairs a circle of dazed twenty-something couples had formed at the base of the stairs. Only one of the six, an agriculture grad student, had the good sense to be drunk. He was valiantly keeping up the conversation by telling stories of the time he was riding his bike when something crossed his path and caused him to "eat it," which I took to mean that he fell. The story went something like "I just ate it, and the guys driving were like, man, some guy just ate it." One other member of the circle, a firefighter, made a good effort to laugh. I tried to share the story about the kid I knew from Browning who was running and collided with a van that was standing still, but no one laughed. "It happens," the guy who ate it responded sympathetically. I've met these people before, and they're perfectly lively and interesting, but something about this purgatory of a party sucked their will to live and used it to power an electric festival of crap.

After one hour that felt like twelve we made a polite exit and went home feeling more Jewish than we've ever felt in our lives. Happy Holidays.

5 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Lola at December 12, 2004 12:05 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Sounds like a nightmare soiree from hell...

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at December 12, 2004 6:07 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • There you go again... Hope this wasn't the sports editor...

    First, the most important thing about a party critique is the food; and drinkage. Frequently the dividing line is whether comestibles [had to go on line for correct spelling] fabricated from marshmallow are provided. Or, outside of Philadelphia, cheez wiz. Were people mixing Jack and coke [known as a Tennessee Libre]? [A sin against the Jack]

    Second, it's worth noting that the New Yorker ran a huge article about Charles Schultz and Snoopy; the decor may have been an homage to NY recognition of national culture. Does the Grinch evoke the entire Geisel oeuvre [too tired to look up spelling]?

    Third, people should have christmas lights up all year around. The lighted santa, not so much.

    Finally, the question of public health [not mental health] aspect of christmas decoration has recently been examined by CDC:

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5348a1.htm

    This actually deals with falling down while putting up lights. During 2000--2003, an estimated 17,465 persons were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments (EDs) for holiday-decorating--related falls. Approximately 62% of those injured were aged 20--49 years; approximately 43% of injuries were caused by falls from ladders; and males were 40% more likely than females to be injured.

  •   Posted by Blogger Mike at December 12, 2004 9:29 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • This wasn't the sports editor, though he was there and looked slightly overwhelemed.

    The trouble with the party, I think, was that not enough people were drinking. I am dieting, so can only drink if I know the nutritional content of the food I'm eating. But other people there have no such excuse. There was a lot of breakable stuff and it would have added some much-needed nervous energy to the party to have people wobbling around threatening to break stuff.

    I was at this party last year and can vouch that the decor has nothing to do with any recent articles in the New Yorker.

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at December 12, 2004 7:45 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • You are dieting? Please explain. I think this deserves a post of its own.

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at December 13, 2004 10:08 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Yes. Please explain. What exactly can't you drink on this diet? White russians with whole milk?

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