The Holiday Party: Surviving a Tragedy

Mrs. Cutter’s office held its annual holiday party on Saturday night.  Yes, February may seem like a strange time for a holiday party, but I think this was done because the party was twice cancelled due to snow two years ago.  So the holiday we were celebrating this year was Valentine’s Day.

The good news for us was that Grandma was visiting for the weekend, so we had free babysitting for the night!  So for once we actually got to sit back and enjoy ourselves without a fare meter ticking away inside our heads.

The party was held at the National Building Museum, which is quite an impressive structure.  Then again, I guess you wouldn’t expect the National Building Museum to be housed in a dump.

It was imperative that we arrive near the beginning of the event.  The first time we attended one of these parties, we ended up sitting at a random table, and Mrs. Cutter was determined to never let that happen again.

So we arrived just after the 6 PM start time and quickly located the rest of her work clique, which has apparently been (affectionately?) nicknamed “The Coven.”

A table was obtained, and several places were reserved for the key members of The Coven.  A neighboring table was also saved for other members of the work group who they wanted nearby, but for one reason or another weren’t quite worthy of the inner circle.  And apparently, there were also several undesirables who would NOT be allowed to sit at this table.

Having worked in a very small company for the past four years, I’ve lost touch with how office culture can function, especially when you get a group of catty, female co-workers together.

Topics covered in conversation included:

– The attire – both good and bad – of some of the women present.

– Why some of their co-workers chose not to attend.

– Speculation as to whether or not a guest was a paid escort.

– I even got to hear them “Andie McDowell” a woman who briefly stopped by to say hello.  After the woman left the table, the conversation went something like this:

“Oh my God, she looks gorgeous.”

“I know!  How beautiful is she?”

“That dress looked amazing.”

“And her hair!”

“She is just so beautiful!”

For those curious, the concept of “Andie McDowelling” comes from a Bill Simmons column: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/050810&num=0

The music for the event was provided by what appeared to be about a 12-person band.  I wasn’t quite sure why a band needed twelve members, and after studying them for a while, I’m still not entirely sure. 

There was one saxophonist who didn’t seem to do anything for the first few hours.  Every time I looked at him, he was just kind of bobbing his head.  A couple of times it looked like he was about to play, but then decided not to.  Later on in the night, he did indeed start to play, so maybe he was just saving his energy.

They also had a female singer.  Obviously, they needed her to handle the songs with female vocals, but that left her without much to do half the time.  She would just kind of dance around to the other songs.

I thought her dancing style looked kind of familiar, but I couldn’t place it at first.  Then I realized that her side-to-side wobble was eerily reminiscent of the Cutlet when she dances to music.

Naturally, this led to me bringing up the band vs. DJ debate with some people at our table. 

It seems to be mostly a generational thing whether you prefer a band to a DJ at an event.  My parents’ generation thinks bands are far superior.  When planning our wedding, both my parents and Mrs. Cutter’s parents were shocked that we didn’t want to have a band. 

But most people around my age prefer DJs.  Personally, if I want to hear a particular song, I want to hear the actual song, and not some band’s version of it.

I thought it was somewhat telling that the dance floor seemed the most crowded while the band was taking a break, and some CDs were playing.  Then again, they played the Macarena, and who wouldn’t want to dance to that?

We were about midway through the evening, when I received a text message from Squinty informing me that Whitney Houston had passed away.

I realized that this was my chance to shine.  With most of the people busy eating, dancing, and socializing, it was unlikely that too many people had already heard this news.  I would get to be the person to break the big news story!  I would be the hero of the party!

I stood up and loudly pronounced, “Whitney Houston just died!”

Naturally, this set off a flurry of questions:  “What?  How do you know?  How did she die?”  Sadly, I didn’t have any further details.  If I had, I might have been forever immortalized in holiday party history.

A flurry of phone checking soon followed.  And the resulting Facebookgasm confirmed it: Whitney had passed away.

One of my greatest skills is the ability to make jokes that are in slightly poor taste in the wake of tragedy.  And so naturally, lines like these soon followed:

“Should we let everyone know?  People might want to go home and be with their families.”

“I hope Metro doesn’t close early because of this.” (Knowing Metro, it wouldn’t entirely surprise me if they did)

“I need to call home and make sure my daughter is okay.”

“Should we go up and request a Whitney song?  The band probably doesn’t know, so they’ll probably be really surprised by the reaction.”

“Why couldn’t it have been Whitney Cummings?”

In all honesty, the show Whitney isn’t THAT bad.  It seems to have improved somewhat, and while watching an episode on Sunday, Mrs. Cutter’s mother seemed to be getting a real kick out of it.

And since she didn’t approve of me at first, you know she must be difficult to please.

Anyway, despite the tragedy, somehow we all managed to carry on for the remainder of the evening.

There were some raffle prizes given away, and they wisely spread the drawings throughout the evening to prevent people from leaving early.  Prizes included a MacBook Air, some gift cards, and a free flight. 

The MacBook was won by a member of The Coven.  Naturally, while she was up retrieving it, the rest of the table made plans to steal it from her or guilt her into giving it away.  As far as I know, those plans did not work.

Just before the last prize was given out, Mrs. Cutter and wisely headed to the coat check and valet, knowing that if we didn’t beat the rush, we might be stuck there for another hour. Thankfully, we made a quick getaway, and got home in short order.

Finally, here’s a tribute to both Whitney Houston and America:

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About The Cutter

I am the Cutter. I write some stuff. You might like it, you might not. Please decide for yourself.
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