On Friday I went to the summer party at the company some of my customers work for. It was quite a big do, and was supposed to be official for the first few hours and turn into a more casual party as the evening wore on. Even the invites said “open-ended”.
I was a little bit late (only 2 hours…) because I had a last minute project to finish so it could go in the kiln and be picked up on Monday, but I figured that 2 hours isn’t really late for an open-ended party that starts mid-afternoon.
When I got there, the hall was half full of people milling about, chattering and drinking. The bar was doing a great job of distributing apple juice and sparkling water. The barbecue was as good as over and the buffet table was ravaged.
At one end of the 8 square metres of plate-covered table lay half a baguette and a couple of tortilla chips. The rest of the buffet wasn’t, though you could tell it had been once. As I said, it was ravaged.
This is probably the point where I should have gone to find someone to thank for the invitation and made small talk. Instead, I cut off a chunk of baguette while there was still baguette to cut before I looked round the hall.
From an estimated 100+ guests, I knew precisely one person, by sight and from a few very brief conversations, and he didn’t really count because he’s so far up the food chain I could hardly march over and demand he introduce me to everyone else. Also he loked like he was already deeply involved in a discussion.
I looked round the stranger-filled room a second time, turned round and left, still eating my chunk of baguette.
It seems I don’t know how to party. (Especially when I don’t know anyone.)
That’s more embarrassing than I expected.
As much as I want to, I don’t know how it’s supposed to work. Do you go up to random strangers and start talking, or stand on the edge of a group and listen to what they’re saying, which might not be for public consumption..? Or just sit in a corner and wait until someone asks who you are and whether you’re supposed to be there in the first place..?
If there’d been a queue for the food (or indeed if there had even been food at all) I could’ve made some comment on something or other to whoever was standing next to me. If there had been a presentation or a speech I could maybe have referred to that, or caught someone’s eye when something was unintentionally funny.
As it was, I really have no idea how it works.