I am pretty great at a party. I am one of those gracious guests that usually brings something -no, I almost always bring something. Although sometimes my libations and edibles are not of the highest epicure. That diet ginger ale? Was probably on sale at Shaw’s, I’ll tell you now. But I’m very self-sufficient in that I find a place for my gifted drinks, and make myself a non-alcoholic one while I’m at it. Since I don’t drink, I hear that makes me a rather welcome guest, too, since I’m not liable to get out of hand.
I am, however, very giggley when I first enter a party, so if I shake your hand because I just met you, I will probably immediately try to find some sort of common ground with you (Are you from the Mid-West?? You didn’t happen to take Irish step dancing lessons ever, did you?) so that an irrevocable spat of giggles does not ensue. I’m just nervous a little, that’s all, which you can probably tell since I totally blushed when we shook hands and that’s just because I am a career blusher, I do it without thinking. It’s like a reflex, like Robin Williams cannot help but be ridiculous or Alan Greenspan cannot help but frown by default. I blush, especially when meeting new people.
There is very little time wasted with me in learning your name and committing it to my memory. Your card in my mental rolodex has already been pulled and on it will be mentally written: Your Name, followed by “Nicole’s Backyard Barbecue/Going Away Party,” and maybe what you were wearing, especially if it was a great shirt that says something like “I’m not perfect, but parts of me are really great.” I will probably listen to your story of how it is you know Nicole and whether or not you think Nicole definitely liked Jordan from NKOTB, or was she a Joey McIntyre kind of a girl? Or something idiosyncratic like that. I remember most conversations that I have in life, especially at a party, because party chatter quite intoxicates me. All the while I’m drinking ginger ale.
I usually have a few favorite stories which make a predictable rotation. The rotation is only predictable to my husband, however, who is probably rolling his eyes if he is in our social sphere at this party. I, of course, never go into a party thinking, “Aw yeah, I cannot wait to unleash my schoolbus abandonment story!” But from the time that my husband slams the car door shut and proceeds towards the apartment building of our friend, I am sure he is thinking about the heat that his wife has packed in her arsenal of stories. Poor thing. He has heard them all, which is somewhat of a problem, you see. If I ever want to deviate from the main points of the story, or embellish the actual number of years it took me to figure out that my Uncle Joe was not really going back to his house in Texas when he told me “I’m going back to the house” – meaning the cottage a block away – my husband is always there to sound the alarm, as if I am forever a contestant on a game show where one must try to tell the same story you just told without deviating from it by one fact.
I am also a pretty great asset to the dancefloor at your party. Not that I need a dancefloor, I really just need a few other people busting out to venture over to the tomfoolery. I love to dance. I’ll dance to anything, generally, except awful music, like music that denigrades women which just really shouldn’t even be allowed out in the universe. I just love to dance, to keep the beat, to be ridiculous. Not bumping and grinding all up like a sweaty sorority girl. Please. More like a character from “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” where all of the characters are evenly spaced with their own rockin’ dance moves that don’t upset. At the last wedding I went to, the bride told my husband and me, “People are requesting that you come to their weddings to dance.” So I took that as a compliment which humbled me temporarily, but now I am back to being my smug self, thinking I am pretty great at a party.