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December 16, 2009

Holiday party nerves mitigated only by the cold that will not die.

Tomorrow is the holiday party.

Every year we have a holiday "party" at work and every year I see it for what it truly is: another opportunity for me to get nervous and in my attempts to seem like I'm normal I overtalk and say truly godawful inappropriate things for which I may possibly get fired for later. Rock on!

When I worked in the newspaper business or in entertainment, holiday parties weren't these scary things where work mixes with socialness in a confused jumble. At my previous jobs the holiday party was a big Saturday night drunkfest. One year the advertising director of a certain entertainment company showed up at our Christmas party with two hookers and a bottle of tequila. One year when I was at the Daily News the reporters burned editor-in-chief D.B. in effigy and then later I drunkenly propositioned someone from the city desk ... it was all in good fun. Somehow I lost a shoe.

Here, at Big Corporation, Inc., the "party" is held during the middle of the day and you come back to work right after. It's like a long lunch with drink tickets. Except this is an extremely business professional environment, so there's a very fine line on the drinking plus you're still technically at work and on the clock so you want to be sure you still have your work face on. I have a hard enough time keeping a lid on my mouth while I'm here just working, adding in a veneer of socializing can be disastrous for someone like me. Meaning someone who has a limited ability to filter combined with a brain that says things like, "You know in France they're just called fries. And what do you think they call the good plates in China?"

Usually I manage to say something really inappropriate that makes whoever I'm talking to need to take an urgent phone call, then I sweat until it's time to come back to work.

I had no idea until I came to work here what a business professional environment was like. I'd always worked in deeply dysfunctional newsrooms and later, equally screwed up entertainment companies. The parties were fun but in that way it's fun when the lunatics start running the asylum. Here, the day-to-day is so much nicer, people are pleasant and respectful and no one swears or throws things at you and no one is crying in the bathroom stalls. The dress code is much stricter and I have to monitor my trucker's mouth, but for the most part it's really nice. So the holiday party seems like a bizarre thing to be the most stressful event of my year, but there you have it. It's a two-hour landmine in which I try desperately to not say anything that will make people shun me back at the office.

Luckily (or otherwise) I've been unable to shake this horrible cold and my voice is raspy and it hurts to talk so maybe I'll run out of steam before I get wound up. And to keep from having to carry along a backpack of Kleenex I'll be downing some cold medicine before the party which will hopefully make me too drowsy to say ridiculous things, like last year when I told an SVP that he had "junk in the trunk and gold in the hold." As you can imagine, he had to take an immediate important call... away from me.

Kind of makes you long for the days when your boss showed up with a couple of hookers and some tequila.

Posted by laurie at December 16, 2009 6:28 PM