Requiem For A Holiday Party Novice

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Requiem For A Holiday Party Novice

“What the hell did I do? Please don’t tell me I made the intern take shots with me. Ah fuck, did I hit on the new sales girl? Fuck, fuck, fuck.” He ran through these thoughts over and over again, with no chance of resolution, like a blind dog chasing its tail. He thought about his phone and the horrors that await him when he reads his texts.

Dehydrated but confined to his memory foam prison, he debated whether getting up to pour himself a glass of holy water was worth suffering the 12 step hike to the kitchen. He determined the life-saving reward wasn’t worth the treacherous risk, even though deep down he knew sooner or later he’d have to make the trip to the sanctuary of the Brita. After pondering life for a few more minutes, and coming to the conclusion he is going to invent an I.V. Bar, he decided it was time to stop putting off the inevitable, face the facts, and check his phone.

Reluctantly, he reached for his phone, unlocked it, and navigated to his messages. Timestamped at 12:42am, “Why is edfrybody right now” was the last text he had sent. Not even autocorrect could help articulate this group message delivered to a few of his coworkers. He scrolled through more embarrassing texts, but unfortunately for him the humiliating messages offered little to no clues about the debauchery of the night before. As he was giving up on his initial attempt to figure out what happened, his eyes caught a slight glimpse of a yellow ghost – maybe Snapchat would provide him enough evidence.

His assumption was correct.

A red box displayed the number “7” in the lower left corner of his screen. One by one he viewed the images and watched the videos, and one by one his tired face grew redder than the icon. The snaps were sent to him by his coworkers, and one by one, they brought everything back.

The night started out with little promise, but he deceived himself into thinking otherwise. He felt the specious belief that his company’s holiday party would actually be a good time: his superiors would find him sophisticated, the ladies would perceive him refined, and his lame coworkers wouldn’t be so lame. In fact, although internally he secretly knew the chances of having a good time – and being himself – were slim, he was kind of, sort of looking forward to the party. In a weird, sick way, he felt himself actually liking the idea of the company holiday party: how responsible, mature, and adult-like it seemed. “I’ve made it,” he thought to himself as he walked into the big banquet room in his cocktail attire.

His first few moments, and even minutes, started out innocently enough. He was first greeted by his manager, then said his hellos to a couple of 40-something women in HR, and eventually found his way over to a few fellow associates standing by the open bar. This was mistake number one.

Trying to start out easy, but trying to relieve the tension, he chose a single vodka soda as his first drink. “Ketel One – not too bad,” he remarked to the other two associates with him. They proceeded to make jokes amongst themselves – none were eager to mingle with the rest of their colleagues.

“So how about the solid two days we get off for the holidays?”

“Yeah, I know it’s bullshit, but what are you going to do?”

“Are you going home at all to see your parents?”

“For a little bit. Should be a nice time.”

“Fucking Odell Beckham Jr., dude. Knocked me out of the playoffs two years in a row. Fuck Miami’s defense.”

“Your team sucked anyway.”

“Is that Paige from Sales? She’s looking pretty hot in that tight dress. She’s new here, right?”

“I think that’s against our Code of Conduct Policy, man.”

The elegantly-decorated, second story room was beginning to populate. Sensing the impending awkward conversations, he asked the bartender for another drink. This time was a Jack and ginger. “Well, here it is. Time to go make conversation.”

As the night progressed, the more he drank; the more his fear of small talk with his peers subsided; and the more he drank. He was becoming increasingly good at carrying conversation with everyone at the party. He knew that his superiors found him sophisticated, the ladies perceived him refined, and for some reason, his lame coworkers weren’t so lame. This was mistake number two.

Before he knew it, his liquid confidence was overflowing into a pool of lowered inhibitions. When his director approached him to address his stellar performance on his most recent project, his weakened speech and motor skills crept into sight.

“Hey, I’d like to compliment you on the job you did on the Lenovo Project. Both your senior and your manager had a lot of good things to say.”

“Yeah, man. Of course they did. I’m pretty smart; probably a lot smarter than most of the people here. Yeah. So it’s not, like, very hard to look really good when you’re surrounded by people who aren’t.”

His director was taken back by the audacious comment. The only words his director could muster up to say were simply, “Well, okay then,” before walking away, shaking his head both disapprovingly and disappointedly.

This exchange of words was mistake number three.

Part of him realized he had said something dumb, but the other part of him didn’t care. It was time to regain composure and rebuild his inebriated assurance.

He sped off to the bar, stumbling on the trail. With only two minor falls during his trip, he made it to the right end of the bar. Next to him was an intern by the name of Jake, who he found to be pretty cool – “For an intern,” at least.

He turned to his left and commanded Jake to take a shot with him. Enthusiastically, he requested the bartender for two tequila shots.

As the bartender handed Jake and him each a shot of gold 1800 Agave, he asked Jake how he liked interning, and said how he’d been doing a good job and that he was pretty cool, even for an intern. Then, perhaps too eagerly, he raised the plastic shot glass for a toast. With his coordination off, he moved his arm too forcefully toward Jake’s white dress shirt and spilled the dark 1.5 ounce shot down Jake’s button up. Unlike the quiet conversation with his director earlier, everyone in the surrounding vicinity saw what happened.

This scene was mistake number four.

Now with his alcohol-fueled invincibility fading, he came to a crossroads. For a brief period of time he became cognizant, and he figured it was time to call it quits, count his losses, and go home… but then the last few Captain and cokes took hold of his courage and he remembered that quitters never prosper. He could still make this night a success. He could still prove how cultivated and polished he is – how suave he is. He had no choice but to shake it off, keep fighting, and try again.

That’s when he saw Paige from sales.

Paige was wearing a tight black dress that barely touched the knee, an outfit almost too racy for a company-sanctioned event. He believed this was her way of daring him to come and get it. After all, she was always staring at him in the break room, throwing quick glances his way, smiling when he looked in her direction, and running her fingers through her hair when he was around. It was clear that she wanted him.

“Hey, I saw you looking at me. That’s a pretty tight dress,” he suavely said.

Paige replied, “Are you okay? You seem like you’ve had too much to drink,” which sounded very similar to, “I think you’re hot. Want to make out?”

This lapse of judgment was mistake number five.

Just as fast as he put his hands on her waist, she pushed him away. Unluckily for him, Beth from Human Resources was at the table next to them and saw the events unfold. She rushed to the two and asked them what happened and if they were okay. Although not particularly pleased by the situation, Paige kept a steady demeanor and was relatively cool about what took place. He, however, couldn’t hold himself upright, and when Beth asked for his side of the story, his stomach leapt up looking for escape. He took one step forward with his right foot, then a half step back with the same foot, and throwing his arms forward, he lost the liquor, the steak, mashed potatoes, and vegetable medley, and what was left of his dignity. He left his pride on the carpeted floor, and carried his shame with him.

Then his flashback ended, and his feeling of being mortified was just beginning.

Looking through his phone, he noticed a receipt from Uber from the night before. “So that’s how I got home,” he declared to himself. It still didn’t explain why he woke up on top of his bed covers, in his blazer and boxers, with no dress shirt and pants. All he could think about was Monday, and how much he didn’t look forward to Monday. He had no desire to face the repercussions for his behavior. “Oh well, there’s always next year.”

He was then reprimanded the following week, and fired before the next year’s holiday party.

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After a 1.5 year victory lap at the University of Florida, Chit Chat has spent every day since contemplating life as a bartender on an obscure beach while he sits at his desk in his office in Tampa, Florida. Hobbies include writing, drinking, complaining, spending money he doesn't have, undergoing therapy at the church of weight lifting, and "consulting", whatever that means.

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