So the global economy is sort of collapsing, except sort of not, and those of us in the middle class (i.e. me and pretty much everyone I know) don’t much know what to make of it. In fact, until very recently, I counted myself among those who were totally unaffected by the crisis. That all changed with one fell instant message, in which Jared informed me that his office’s holiday party has been canceled this year due to financial constraints.
Jared’s Office Holiday Party is something we live for all year round. It’s a beautiful, magical event that involves things like the renting out of a ballroom in a fancy hotel in Harvard Square, free hotel rooms for every attendee, and such an endless, decadent, ridiculous supply of top-notch victuals and libations that you are pretty much guaranteed to need that free hotel room. I very much dislike parties, especially parties where I don’t know most of the people, especially parties where everyone gets crazy drunk…but I love this party. It cannot be explained; it just is.
It occurs to me that I never told the story of Jared’s Office Holiday Party Aught-Seven, which happened to fall on the same night as a friend’s wedding. And it wasn’t just any friend’s wedding, but our friend Juju who is a delightful guy and whose bride-to-be was immigrating from Pakistan. It was a very big deal. But fortunately, the wedding ceremony was brief and in the evening, and the reception was to occur two days later (per Muslim custom), which meant we could go to the wedding and then go to the office party and not miss a moment of either.
On the big night, we obtained directions to the wedding venue (something called the Old State House), and from the venue back to the party. We set out for the wedding, giddy with excitement for both our friend and our party. We drove into Boston, expecting to wind up more or less downtown. Instead, our directions lead us into Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, which, for those of you who don’t know, is pretty much the ghetto. (Yeah, there are some nice parts, but let’s not split hairs here; it’s the frigging ghetto.) “This doesn’t seem right,” we said. “From the website, the wedding venue looked like an upscale place, and this is Dorchester…but then again, there are some nice parts.” We arrived at the address and parked on the street. There was nothing resembling an Old State House, but instead an actual shack covered in graffiti. Something was definitely wrong.
I got out of the car, determined to ask a local for advice. I noticed a man walking down the sidewalk in my general direction. “Excuse me,” said I, “is there an Old State House around here?” And I shit you not, when the man opened his mouth to reply that I was most definitely in the wrong part of town, I saw that he was wearing a full gold grill over his teeth.
Well, fuck. By that point there was definitely no time to make it to wherever the Old State House actually was. We made some frantic phone calls and found that some friends of ours were also running disgustingly late, but they were able to give us correct directions to the venue, which was not in Dorchester but in downtown Boston (which, no shit? The Old State House is downtown? Because we thought it was in fucking DORCHESTER). We drove there as fast as we could, and made it there and parked and ran. When we arrived at the venue, we dashed up to the second floor and saw: our late-ass friends, who had made it there before us, a room full of people who appeared to be deep in prayer (many of whom had travelled all the way from Pakistan just to hear us creaking the floor boards as we interrupted the wedding), and our friend Juju with his incredibly beautiful bride, being pronounced husband and wife.
Well, we had totally fucked that up, but the wedding was over and there was nothing we could do about it, other than go to the Office Holiday Party and try to forget our woes. So go we did, and we got there and ate amazing food and desserts and drank drinks. Now, y’all who know me know that I do not dance. But on this particular night, I not only danced, but I somehow wound up dancing with the singer of the live band while he sang “Brick House”. I ended up hugging Jared’s boss (the CEO of the company), who later joined the band on lead guitar. I ended up wearing a lei and eating sushi with my fingers while clinging to Jared, who was drinking out of a plastic coconut. All in all, it was one of the more successful parties I’ve been to.
All year I’ve looked forward to experiencing that night once again, except with less “missing the most significant day of my friend’s life” and also less “wearing a quasi-gothic black dress to an island-themed party”, but let’s face it, with probably more “waking up in the hotel room in the middle of the night in abject misery, wanting nothing more than a swift and immediate death”. But because a few people in high places were wicked dumb, I don’t get to re-live that unique joy. Instead, I now have the night free to go to my office holiday party, which lacks swank hotel ballrooms and free gourmet food, but features a top-forty DJ and two drink tickets!
Hard times are definitely upon us, friends.