December 11, 2000
Social Regurgitation


David tells me that I would have hated the Christmas party on Saturday night.

"Well ... we knew THAT already, didn't we?" I reply.

It's not exactly a secret that I hate parties in general, and office parties in particular. I skipped my own company Christmas party this year -- citing the conveniently ambiguous "family obligation" -- precisely because I SO hate this sort of enforced corporate merriment. And the fact is that nothing short of a court order -- or the promise of a small tasteful engagement ring, maybe, hidden in the crab-and-artichoke dip -- could have dragged me to David's office party this year.

It wouldn't be so bad if I could just go to the party and sit quietly in the corner by myself all evening, snacking on hors d'oeuvres and reading People Magazine. But they make you *participate* at these stoopid things. They make you engage in actual conversation, for instance ... and they tell you to "smile," even when you thought you were smiling ... and they point cameras at you and take your picture a lot, and they force you to eat seafood, and they grab you by the hand and drag you onto the dance floor and make you do something called "The Chicken Dance." It's like a little slice of hell for a social hermit crab like me.

But David says no ... he means that I would have really, really hated this one, even more than usual. "It turned out to be a wine-tasting party," he explains.

Oh. Geez. When he's right, he's right.

As excruciatingly awful as an evening of polite uncomfortable chit-chat with a roomful of total strangers might have been for me,  this would have been a bazillion times worse. This would have been an evening of polite uncomfortable chit-chat with a roomful of total strangers ... with cabernet on their lips.

And on their breath.

And swishing fragrantly in their glasses, two feet from my nose.

An entire evening, in other words, devoted to the celebration -- and social regurgitation of -- my favorite toxic substance. A toxic substance that almost killed me, more than once. A toxic substance which I have made a lifetime commitment to avoid. A toxic substance I still occasionally/irrationally/momentarily crave from time to time, particularly in difficult social situations.

Like the holidays. Or parties.

Or holiday parties.

"Oh god. Were you OK?" I ask, alarmed, and he says yes, he was fine ... it wasn't any big deal at all. When he got to the house where the party was being held -- a beautiful home in the Castro District -- his host immediately offered him a glass of wine. David asked for a Coke. "I don't drink," he told his host without elaboration. (David is a couple of years ahead of me in the recovery process, and he is perfectly comfortable in situations where other people are drinking. I'm not as evolved as he is, yet.) He made the rounds and shmoozed with co-workers and nursed his soda for a couple of hours -- long enough to be polite -- and then he excused himself, citing the conveniently ambiguous "family obligation," and he left.

"I was fine," he says. "But you would have been miserable ... and I would have been miserable for you." And neither one of us would have had anything even approaching a good time, and the evening would have been a disaster, and we would have driven home to Alameda in stone cold silence, and it would have fudked up the whole rest of the weekend.

So we're both glad I listened to my Antisocial Inner Child this year and skipped the festivities completely.

I will admit to a minor *Pang-of-Regret Moment* when David left for the party. It was only the third evening we've spent apart in the two years we've lived together -- not counting my trips to TicTac -- and any separation is still ridiculously wrenching to us both, even if it's only for a few hours.

(Yep. We're a couple of big stoopid babies.)

But once he was gone, I snapped out of it and actually had some fun ... in a quiet, nerdy, antisocial way. I turned off all the lights in the apartment and lit vanilla candles everywhere ... slipped a panful of chocolate chip cookies into the oven, and a couple of Celtic CD's onto the stereo ... and spent the evening catching up on all of the other journals I'm supposed to be reading every day.  I finished designing the fabulous Ю僱êrvØ¡ & SecraTerri *Christmas 2000 Holiday Card.* (Look for one to land in an e-mailbox near you, soon!)  I knocked off a little more of my online Christmas shopping. I put little Santa hats all over the Panda Toaster on my splash page.

At one point Jaymi twinkled onto my Buddy List, and we enjoyed a merry little conversation ... online at first, but then we switched over to phone. I got to sing "Happy Birthday" to her long-distance.

All in all, it was a pleasant evening of aimless, self-indulgent cyber puttering. I'd forgotten how much fun -- and how emotionally re-energizing -- that sort of stuff can be.

It certainly beat standing around watching a bunch of strangers spit up Beaujolais Nouveau into little silver buckets all evening, anyway.

repaying a little more of that karmic debt

two years ago: directionally challenged

throw a rock