Monday, January 6, 2014


I attended several Christmas parties this year and had a great time at each one. But as I sat there enjoying myself, I couldn’t help but think back to some of the not-so-great holiday parties I’d suffered through in my past.

I can remember a Christmas party way back when I was in the sixth grade. I wore a new lacy white dress for the occasion, and accessorized it with my favorite charm bracelet.

This guy, Harvey, asked me to dance a jitterbug. As he grasped my hand and started to spin me around on the dance floor, my charm bracelet accidentally sliced his wrist. The next thing I knew, my white lacy dress was covered with red splotches, and Harvey was staring at me as if I were Lizzie Borden, with a hatchet tucked in my underwear.

In later years, it seemed that whenever a guy I was dating invited me to a Christmas party, it was guaranteed to be a disaster.

For example, there was one party a date took me to that was given by a recently divorced woman. Strangely, all of the guests were male. When my date and I arrived, the hostess frowned at him and said, “I thought you’d be coming alone,” then cast me a look so cold, I felt frost forming on my bangs.

Even worse, every room in her house was decorated with so much mistletoe, the place looked like a greenhouse. There was no safe place for me to stand without feeling like fresh road-kill surrounded by vultures. I pretty much figured out that this woman wanted to celebrate her divorce in a big way – and it didn’t include any other females. I think that was the shortest length of time I ever spent at a party – 12 minutes.

Another date invited me to a Christmas party at his friend’s house. Unfortunately, we were the only people who showed up. I felt bad for the guy because he’d laid out a fancy buffet that could have fed 25 people. To make matters worse, his date stood him up, so he spent the entire night whining and drinking to drown his sorrows. My date, “Mr. Excitement,” fell asleep on the sofa.

When I worked at Leavitt’s Department Store, the annual Christmas parties were fantastic. I mean, the store went all out and rented a big banquet room at the Chateau Restaurant. It was a fancy affair, with the women wearing evening gowns. The festivities featured a nice roast-beef dinner and drinks followed by dancing to a live band. Also, several of the employees would put on skits or entertain with singing and dancing.

One year, I was asked to be in one of the skits. An employee named Dan was going to portray Tiny Tim and sing his hit, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” The program director wanted me to act like a crazed fan, screaming and carrying on from the sidelines. Then, after Dan finished singing, she wanted me run up and throw myself at him while launching into the song, “You’re Just too Good to be True.”

Unfortunately, when it came to singing, I sounded like a cross between a foghorn and a bull moose searching for a mate. I protested, telling the program director I couldn’t sing.

“Oh, nobody cares!” she said with a wave of her hand. “It’s all just in fun anyway!  You’ll do just fine!”

So I made the mistake of allowing her to convince me to do the skit. Every night for a week before the big Christmas party, I practiced singing my song for hours, until I thought I didn’t sound half-bad.  I ate, breathed and slept “You’re Just too Good to be True.”

The night of the party, the director told me to go over to the band and discuss the music for my song with them.

“Do you know the song, ‘You’re Just too Good to be True’?” I asked one of the guitarists. “I have to sing it during the entertainment portion tonight.”

“Yeah,” he said. “What key?”

Key?  Heck, the only key I was familiar with was the one that unlocked my front door.

I still have no idea why, but I blurted out, “Key of G.”

The guy looked wide-eyed at me. “You sure?”

I nodded, too embarrassed to tell him I didn’t know a thing about music.

As it turned out, the key of G was so low, when I began to sing my solo, I practically had to reach down to my toes for the notes. If the party guests had closed their eyes, they’d have sworn some big, burly man – like a Sumo wrestler – was singing the song. Even Dan, the guy portraying Tiny Tim, looked shocked when I began serenading him in my baritone voice.

I still have no clue which key my voice really is, but I’m pretty sure I can rule out the key of G.

And then there was the year I went to a family Christmas party, and my cousin, who had the flu, sat next to me. She had such a high fever, I actually could feel the heat radiating from her body, kind of like a human space-heater. When I suggested that she probably should go home to bed, she protested, saying her young son had been looking forward to the party for ages.

Three days later, I got sick. My cousin obviously had given me the gift that kept on giving.

But the parties I went to this year were nice and calm. No one drank too much or tried to do the hoochie-koochie dance on the coffee table. No one was obnoxious or flirted with someone else’s date. No one sang 50 choruses of “The 12 Days of Christmas” while trying to remember whether there were 10 or 11 drummers drumming.

Yep, all was calm, and I really enjoyed myself.

I must be getting old.


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