* Editor’s note: Tanya is taking the day off. This column, which has been slightly edited, first ran in 2010.
I have finally come to terms with something unpleasant: parties will happen.
It might seem strange that I dread parties because I’m a pretty social person. I particularly like hosting parties, but that might be an offshoot of my problem with social gatherings — namely, they are endlessly long.
The real problem is that my definition of “endless” doesn’t seem to jibe with most other party-throwers. There is nothing more haunting to me than an invitation that has a ? where the end time is supposed to be. The end time is very easy to calculate: just add two hours to your start time.
My basic issue with a long social get-together is that I’ve said every interesting thing I can think of in the course of two hours. I have no more witty anecdotes, no more did-you-hear-about stories, and worst of all, no more ability to feign interest in boring small talk.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that if my husband has had a great time for the past two hours, he figures more fun is inevitable. I, however, apply the economic theory of diminishing margin of returns: We will not have more fun later, we will have less.
To add to my plight, my husband hates to stand. In our longstanding (heh heh, good one) debate over whether it’s better to stand in the shade or sit in the sun, he always picks sitting. No matter how much I try to make the sun scenario unappealing — it’s high noon in the desert, sun is bouncing off the metal sheet you’re sitting on, you have no sunglasses — he chooses sitting.
This manifests itself in a most unpleasant way at parties because he wants to plant himself on a chair, virtually guaranteeing he won’t easily be able to flit to a more inviting conversation after his has died. I want to be with him because he’s my favorite person to talk to, but I don’t want to be trapped with whomever else has flopped down in his territory.
We take two cars to many places.
It’s a situation that plagues me in other ways, too. I want professional baseball games to last seven innings, max, and I can’t stand more than seven holes of golf. Of course, my husband likes 15 innings of baseball (woe unto me when there is a tie score after nine innings), and he’d happily play 36 holes of golf in a day. Heavy sigh.
But back to parties … I am ashamed — OK, and a wee bit proud — to say I actually have forced people to leave someone else’s party when I thought they’d overstayed their welcome.
Friends of ours had a party to bring together a lot of people my husband and I wanted to see while visiting California from Virginia. A nice barbecue, fun conversation and lots of laughs were had. But four hours later, I was beyond done with this scene.
A drunken foursome had been saying their goodbyes for at least half an hour, although the party clearly had ended 45 minutes before. Since we were the house guests of our party-throwing friends, I knew I could crawl into bed when the last revelers left. But, alas, they would not leave. They kept lingering, until I finally yelled — Yes, I yelled this — “Just leave!” It was incredibly obnoxious and I was embarrassed, but my shame was quickly assuaged when they walked out the door and my head hit the pillow.
So now that I’ve just given away my party M.O., I hope I still am invited to things. I am thrilled to be included, and it’s possible that I really do have a headache after two hours, or that the kids can’t be left alone any longer. But it’s more likely that I wish somebody would yell at me to “just leave.”
— Tanya Perez is an associate editor at The Enterprise. Her column publishes every other week on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Reach her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @enterprisetanya