Tag Archives: party

Classic Phil

I had a party at my house a few weeks ago, and I’ve always hated the idea of excluding anybody, so I kind of cast a wide net in terms of invites. It was too wide, I know it, I hate having to do stuff like this, but it’s either invite everybody or don’t have a party at all. Because the last thing I want is for someone’s status update or shared photo to ruin it for someone else, that, sorry, I had a party and I didn’t invite you.


And am I really being cool about it? Looking back, I don’t think I’ve ever been cool about it at all. I kind of spread the word in advance to the people that I would have invited had I allowed myself a more exclusive get-together, and then like two or three days before, I put out a general announcement to everybody at work, friends on Facebook.

All I’m really doing is reaching for the bottom, right, like who else is not only not going to have any plans on such short notice? I feel like a jerk even laying it out like that, but that’s exactly what it is, all right, people with nothing else to do, just waiting for a last minute sympathy invite.

The party was on a Saturday, I sent out my mass invite on a Thursday. Friday morning this guy Phil at work sends me an email, “Hey Rob, what should I bring?” And what do you mean what should you bring? You ever been to a party before? Just bring some beer, a bottle of wine, I don’t know, a bag of chips. This isn’t high tea here.

But what do I say? “Don’t bring anything.” Because what are you really supposed to say? You tell people not to bring something. You kind of hope that they bring a little extra booze or some snacks. Not Jell-O. OK, that’s just weird. That’s what Phil brought. He brought some weird molded Jell-O thing, like something straight out of a sixties cookbook, a big, green ring with stuff floating around in it.

“Hey man, I made some dessert,” and he was smiling, like I was trying to get a read on him. Was this some sort of a joke, like a gag gift? But I swear, I couldn’t tell, and while a part of me really wanted to laugh and be like, “Ha, that’s hilarious,” I just really wasn’t that convinced that this Jell-O thing wasn’t anything less than a hundred percent sincere.

I was right in the middle of laying out all of the snacks, pouring this giant bag of tortilla chips that I had bought at Costco into a big plastic bowl. I had all of this party stuff spread out around me. And it wasn’t because I wasn’t ready yet, OK, it was because Phil showed up exactly at eight o’clock.

Like was he walking around the block? Just waiting for the clock to strike eight so he could knock on my door? Nobody else was here yet, and I was clearly still setting up, but he has this thing in my face, it wasn’t even wrapped, like I don’t understand how he got it all the way from his place to my place, was he just sitting on the subway with the Jell-O on his lap, breathing on it? It’s too much.

And I get it, OK, like I can be socially awkward sometimes, I have that same tendency to overthink everything. And yeah, when I get invited to a party, I’m totally stressed out about what time I’m supposed to show up, right, but I’m not the guy walking around the block wasting time so I can show up at just the right second, OK, I’m the guy walking around the block waiting for just the right time to make an entrance that looks natural, like I’m not obsessing about how many people have arrived before me, or if I’m too late.

OK, so I understand. But this guy is like me but with absolutely no inhibitions. Just, it’s eight o’clock, ding-dong, here’s your Jell-O. Maybe it was a joke. “Ha, that’s funny,” I did say it, hoping he’d laugh back, because come on dude, I’ve never seen a dessert like that in real life, and maybe it’s really tasty and everything, but nobody’s going to eat that. And tell me you had it wrapped up, please, tell me you ditched the wrapping outside, something, because I can’t get over the exposed jiggly surface, like somebody two seats down from you on the subway sneezes, it just seems like a giant germ magnet.

“What’s so funny?” and what do I say to that? “Nothing,” I said, “Just something I was thinking about from earlier, something funny happened.” And he was like, “What happened?” and I wanted to be like, Phil, come on dude, just help me out a little here, OK, just stop with the follow up questions, just put down the Jell-O man, come on dude, just let me finish setting up here.

“Where do you want me to put this Jell-O?”

“I don’t know man, anywhere’s fine. Just grab yourself a drink, OK, just hang out while I finish getting ready.”

And I’m telling you, that fucking Jell-O was like the hit of the party, I don’t even know where that cake slicer thing came from, because I definitely don’t have a cake slicer, like Phil must have brought it, OK, he must have had that thing in his back pocket. But everybody had like cake slices of Jell-O, I wanted to give out a warning, like, “Jesus, Chris, don’t eat that Jell-O,” and Chris was like, “Why? This Jell-O is awesome. Classic Phil.”

What was I not getting? “You’ve had this before?”

“Yeah man, Phil brings it to all the parties, that’s like his thing.”

And I was just thinking, how come I’ve never been to any parties with Phil before? Like I don’t care, OK, it’s not like I have to be invited to everything, OK, I know that not everybody does the whole blanket invite thing like I do. But not once? How many parties are people having that Phil’s invited to and I’m not? Because I would have noticed that, OK, I’m telling you I would have noticed a green fucking Jell-O ring cake with pieces of canned pineapple floating around in it.

There’s this circular scar on my arm

When I was in high school, there was this really brief period where I felt as if I was actually having what I always thought was supposed to be the high school experience. You know, the kind that you see on TV, where everyone has a ton of friends and every weekend you go to some crazy house party where the adults are perpetually away for the weekend and someone’s older brother or sister happens to be home from college, available to buy everyone booze and beer.

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I went to an all-boys Catholic high school, it was one of these giant institutions that pulled its student body from various corners of Long Island. What this meant was that I didn’t really have any hometown friends, aside from the few guys that I went to grammar school with who also attended this high school.

But sometime around junior year, one of these few guys befriended a clique from my town’s public high school. One night I got an invite to a party at some kid’s house, someone that I didn’t know at all. I mean, I knew a lot of the faces, I’d see them at basketball games and stuff like that. But never in a social setting.

Just like that, I went from not knowing anybody to befriending a couple of dozen people. And like I mentioned earlier, it really was all of the crazy that you see on TV, house parties on the weekends, insanely casual parents of people who I’d just met that had no problem letting thirty or forty teenagers get drunk in their basements and backyards.

I had drank beer and the occasional mouthful of liquor before, but the closest that I’d ever been to getting drunk was almost finishing a six-pack with a couple of guys behind a playground supply shed one summer night. This high school party scene that I was now suddenly a part of, there was beer pong, people brought funnels, everyone was smoking pot.

Marijuana was something that, as a little kid, all the way up until my junior year of high school, I promised myself I’d never touch. I don’t know where it came from, but I had a legitimate fear of drugs, like all of those videos they showed us in school, every warning about how it only takes one time for this stuff to ruin your life, I bought it. I was genuinely afraid.

But then it was like one day, I was at my second or third one of these parties, someone offered me a little pipe and I consciously felt that terror not only go away, but there was a total shift in attitude, a complete one-eighty from fear to an embrace. I took a few hits and got really stoned, I woke up in the morning without any lasting permanent damage and I thought, wow, that wasn’t really anything to be afraid of.

And it went like that for a couple months or so, each adventure seemingly more outrageous than the next, all the way until one night, some guy got his hands on a box of cigars. Everyone lit up but, not really knowing how to smoke a whole cigar, everyone got bored. I don’t know how what happened next actually happened, but a couple of guys started taking the their cigars and burning each other’s arms with the lit ends.

One after the other, everyone present got sucked up into the frenzy. It became this macho test that nobody present made any effort to back away from, to stop and think even for a second, what the hell is going on? And then it was my turn. I didn’t put up any fight either. I was drunk, I was high, I felt invincible.

And the next day when I came to, I looked at this oozing open wound on my right bicep, I couldn’t make sense of what had happened. This thing took forever to heal, and it was right below my t-shirt sleeve, so there was no use in covering it up. I made up some bullshit story about working at the restaurant, how I’d accidentally dropped a lemon into the deep fryer, causing a huge glob of grease to splatter in a perfect circle on my arm. And everyone bought it, my parents, the doctor that summer who looked at it curiously during the course of my annual physical.

I still tell that story. There’s not much of a scar now, but it’s noticeable under the right lighting. I’ve told it so much that part of that lie has actually grown pretty deep roots, that sometimes it takes me a minute or two to remember the truth, that I got sucked up into some weird animalistic moment of mass insanity. Someone had a crazy drunk idea that caught and spread like fire that night at a party.

I’m totally embarrassed to write this all out, I’ve never really told anybody I’m close with, but there’s got to be some lesson that I can take away. One is that, whatever I was trying to get out of being part of that group, friendship, acceptance, none of that stuff was ever there in the first place. As quickly as I had been taken in by my group of peers, I was summarily rejected a few months later when, one night at a different party, some kid I’d never met before decided he didn’t like my jokes or whatever. He convinced everyone to turn on me, casting me out on the spot.

Another is, in what ways is whatever was inside of me that night still a part of who I am today? I’d like to believe that I’m an independent thinker, that you’d never be able to find me sucked into poor decision-making by peer pressure and the social dynamics of groupthink run riot. But I don’t know. I thought I was independent back then. To what extent am I truly self-aware of the decisions I’m making day-to-day?

I guess it’s a good reminder every now and then to look at that barely visible scar on my arm, to be grateful that a superficial inch or so of skin is the extent of the physical consequences. But it’s a scary reminder. Just like how my convictions abruptly reversed course in a split second under the right circumstances, in what other ways might my values today be similarly overturned? It’s a good idea to take stock of my life and ask, how much freedom do I really have over my everyday actions?

Closed on Christmas

Unfortunately, due to budgetary constraints, we’re not going to be able to have that holiday party this year. I know, everybody was looking forward to getting together, or maybe not everybody, but Morris was definitely excited, remember last year? Ha. But we’ve got to look out for the bottom line, and in this economic climate, well, you never know when we’re going to need that money. Besides, think about the shareholders. Do you think they want to see us loafing around for four hours at an open bar?

office christmas

I know what you’re thinking, you’re wondering about those bonuses. Yeah, well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that we’re still doing bonuses. The bad news is that it’s not for any of you. Haha. That was supposed to be a joke. The delivery, anyway, I guess the subject isn’t that funny. Just think of it as more of an incentive to work harder, year after year, and maybe someday you can become an executive, and hopefully then you’ll be eligible for a bonus.

We are buying some bagels though. They’re actually already here, I think Manny dropped them off this morning in Conference Room B. There was cream cheese in there, right Manny? No? I thought I told the secretary to get some cream cheeses, a regular one, and then something else, something with chives, or scallions. Manny, are you sure there wasn’t any cream cheese?

I’m actually just being informed that the bagels are all gone, apparently the nighttime custodial staff must have cleaned house on their way home for the day. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts, right? Although, I probably should have had Marge make an announcement, an interoffice memo. As long as somebody ate them, I guess it’s not a total waste.

Morris, can we write off those bagels as some sort of a charitable contribution? How much do you think two dozen bagels cost, fifty bucks? Seventy-five? I’m just going to go ahead and write eighty, because I definitely ordered cream cheeses, I’m sure someone must have had them. Can we write it off as a teambuilding expense also? Does the IRS let us write off expenses incurred while building the team? That’s job creation right there. Just write it off twice.

Good news everybody, we’re giving everybody a half-day on Christmas Eve. It’s nothing, no need to thank me. Just go home and have a very Merry Christmas, you know, after three. The half-day ends at three. At least you’ll beat the afternoon rush home. But to help kind of make up for lost time, we’re actually going to open up on New Years Day. So, you know, you can come in a little late, let’s say nine-thirty, or nine. Let’s just say nine-fifteen. But yeah, enjoy Christmas Eve, but remember to come in on New Years Day.

Why the long faces? You’re still getting Christmas Day off. Right? Marge, check the calendar. Well, that’s got to be a typo. I’m not even sure the building will be open on Christmas Day. Well does Manny have an extra set of keys? Can he leave them with someone else? OK, no, yeah we’ll just keep Christmas Day. Why not? We’ll all stay home on Christmas. But let’s maybe rethink that whole nine nine-fifteen in time on January 1st. Let’s just make it nine flat.

Come on, don’t look at me like that. Don’t you want to be team players? Don’t just think of yourselves, consider the team, about everyone else. And to think, I was just about to send out for pizzas. Well, you guys can forget it. I’m just kidding, everybody march over to Conference Room C, I’ve got a couple of pies waiting for everyone. OK, so you brought lunch, that’s great, can’t you just take it back home and eat it for dinner?

What’s that? Manny, goddamn it man, I told you last night that I was thinking about ordering pizzas today, not that you’d order pizzas last night for today. Man, those’ve got to be … well, cold pizza’s not bad. I love cold pizza. Help yourselves, this place gets pretty cold at night, ask Morris, ask anybody, you know what this place feels like after five, so I’m sure that pizza’s still good. Enjoy.

Me? Oh, no thanks, the board’s going out for our annual holiday luncheon. Honestly, it sounds a lot more glamorous than it is, you know these corporate wine-and-dines. Anyway, get back to work everybody, and Merry Christmas. Right, Happy Holidays, whatever, that’s what I meant. No, I wasn’t trying to exclude anybody, Jesus, just have a great day off, and remember, nine o’clock sharp on Thursday.