ar·ty /pär-tē/ Noun: A social gathering of invited guests, typically involving eating, drinking, and entertainment. Verb: Enjoy oneself at a party or other lively gathering, typically with drinking and music.
I walked into the ladies room before leaving work last week. There was a colleague reapplying mascara. She looked like she’d been crying.
“Are you okay? Is everything all right?” I asked her.
She looked at me with sad eyes, mascara wand in hand.
“Yes, I guess.” Her shoulders slumped and body went limp. “I have a holiday party to go to tonight and I’m just in no mood. Why do we have to go to these things? I’d much rather just go home.”
I laughed and she smirked with a grin.
“I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but I just do,” she whined. “When did it happen that going to a party was such a dreadful thing?”
“I don’t know,” I joked, “but I avoid them, too.”
“What do I wear? What will I talk about? Have we stayed long enough not to offend our host? Can we leave now? I suppose once I get there it’ll be fun, but this part is really awful.”
I knew how she felt. I wouldn’t have expected to identify so closely with this woman. Beautiful, friendly and social, she seemed like she’d be the life of any party. If she was in distress, maybe party avoidance was more common than I thought. Strangely, it often seems like people would prefer to be away from each other rather than together.
I thought it might be a New York City thing. The city is already a non-stop carnival. Just working in the area expends enough energy for one day. Add to that the thousands of tourists ogling in Rockefeller Center, “oohing” and “aahing” the enormous Christmas tree and ice skating rink, the Fifth Avenue shop windows alive with candy lands and miniature Santa workshops. Then there’s Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes. Ticket lines run on for several blocks. On New Year’s Eve, Times Square will seem like the center of the universe. There is no party like New York City.
But will anyone be having fun?
An Australian girl my company recently hired, Molly, shared my elevator this Monday morning. She only recently moved to New York and was still in her early honeymoon months. I asked her about her weekend.
“It was good, I guess,” she said meekly, in her drawn-out Aussie accent.
But I sensed something wasn’t quite right.
“Well, most of it was,” she said continued, now frowning. “We had a holiday event to go to on Saturday, an ugly sweater party. I guess it was okay. But really, there’s just no getting away from these parties, is there?”
No, there isn’t. But obligation doesn’t make for glee. And that can lead to smudged mascara.