When it’s time to party, I’m not all that hardy

Want to know what is really awesome about working for The Herald? There is no nighttime company Christmas party.

That’s so super. I prefer to spend my off hours playing darts or cards with friends because you don’t have to dress up, eat stuff you don’t like or dance.

There are some private party plans cooking around the office water cooler. I am not on anybody’s "A" list because I never show up. I hope my coworkers don’t take offense, but I have no interest sharing my down time with them.

OK, quit throwing paper clips at me. I really like the people I work with, but we don’t have to bond over shrimp dip at a fancy restaurant. My husband, on the other hand, loves his office Christmas party. We’ll be on the company cruise Saturday night.

Whoop de do.

Please understand, Chuck’s coworkers are swell folks, but the evening gets off to a bad start because I can’t remember names and faces.

If I write a column about you, then we bump into one another in the grocery store six months later, I probably won’t remember your name. Sorry. I can tell you who bunked next to me at Meredith Walter’s sixth-grade slumber party, but my 50-year-old brain is more and more selective about what it files in the keep drawer.

We’ve missed my husband’s summer company picnic for three years, so when I see the staff and spouses only in December, I am hard pressed to remember who has kids, who works where or who lost weight. I simply repeat three key sentences — "I love your outfit," "Great to see you again," and "Did you try the chicken?"

My social butterfly husband flits around the room, chatting, laughing and enjoying seeing his sheet metal friends off the ladder.

Meanwhile, I park myself at a table and try to remember not to prop my head on my elbows. Whenever Chuck turns around to check on me, I manage a grin. Early last December, my spouse said he had a huge favor to ask me. He wondered if I would try harder than the year before to be pleasant at his Christmas party.

He knows when I am with my friends doing something I like, I am a perky party girl. When I am out of my element, I can’t be bothered to blossom.

I swear I tried harder at the dinner last year. I wondered on the way home if Chuck noticed my warmer personality. I thought I carried my end of the conversation.

"Not really," he said. "You were still a lump."

Oh that hurt, but I can’t change. When I get my hair cut, I don’t want to visit with the stylist about my favorite television shows. Getting a manicure, don’t ask me about the weather. There are six words I’m bound to hear Saturday night that really tick me off: "Are you ready for the holidays?"

Does anyone really care?

Bland chitchat isn’t the worst part of the evening. We always seem to be in a too-bright room after dinner when "Rollin’ on the River" cranks up. Did you see the Ryder truck transporting ballots in Florida? That’s me on the dance floor — a Ryder truck.

My twinkle-toes husband could teach Arthur Murray a thing or two. Chuck grew up with four older brothers in the 1950s. Their girlfriends took turns teaching little Charlie Boy to dance.

Too bad Chuck married someone with the grace of Barney. We were recently at a wedding and noticed, that according to Emily Post, after the bride and groom dance, the groom asks the mother of the bride to waltz. When my sons Ron and Brody go down the aisle, if they ever do, I won’t have to be the first old geezer on the floor.

Before we go to parties or receptions, Chuck and I practice dancing in the living room. We have a couple of set routines that I can manage. Chuck always promises to stick to the prearranged plan, then gets carried away on the dance floor and attempts to twirl me around like a parade baton.

Picture Gene Kelly and Humpty Dumpty.

Perhaps I’ve released all my anxiety about Saturday night. There’s a chance I could sparkle like a belle of the ball. Maybe everyone will crowd around my table to hear scintillating conversation.

Perhaps I’ll bond with another lump lady, and we’ll hang around the dip.

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