Do you remember last year when one of Steve's more influential co-workers threw a Christmas party and I had a small, but powerful come-apart about being worried that I'd been strange and awkward the whole time? No? Well, you should follow that link and read about it. Geez.
Anyways, the man had another Christmas party this year, and believe it or not, I wasn't the least bit nervous about going. Part of it was that I knew what a lovely couple the host and hostess were, and I guess the other part was that, at the time, I was still on medication for whatever mystery illness I was being treated for and it made me feel too terrible to think about all the things I could do wrong. Who knew feeling like death was good for the self esteem? The only thing that had been worrying me about this party was the fact that I wasn't sure if I'd done the right thing for a host/hostess gift. See, I know I could have gone to that party empty handed and it would have been OK. Had they been good friends of ours, I wouldn't have felt it necessary to give a gift, but it just seemed like good manners to take something to this party.
Well, everything started off better than I could have expected. I was feeling a bit better by the time we got there, and our gift was a huge hit. Seriously, they weren't just being polite. I mean, they seemed genuinely thrilled about the towels I'd embroidered the name of their farm on. (Yeah, they live in a place with a frickin' name! Awesome, huh?) So I relaxed and figured that the rest of the party would be a piece of cake!
That's when God punished me for my hubris.
The host gathered us all together, prayed over the food, and we filled our plates with various little nibbles. Steve and I found out of the way seats where he could tell me who everyone was without them hearing us talking about them. Things were going well, and we were laughing and talking, when someone came over to tell us goodbye. We were sitting and the man was standing in front of Steve. He shook Steve's hand, and I leaned forward - plate in hand - to say goodbye. I didn't realize how close to Steve I'd apparently leaned, but when the man released Steve's hand, Steve's elbow went into my plate. Hard. It was like a wrestling move. Almost in slow motion, a jumbo shrimp, covered in sauce, sailed across the room. The rest of the sauce, which had puddled on my plate, immediately fell onto Steve's lap. Crumbs fell, napkins fluttered, Steve froze in place and the crunch of my plastic dinnerware hitting the floor echoed around the room. Now, of course, it probably wasn't really like that. It all happened so fast, but it felt like time had slowed to a crawl. Steve's face had a look of panic on it that I rarely see, and of course, I lost it. I started laughing so hard all I could do was sit there as Steve retrieved the shrimp and started piling the trash into my plate. The man who had been shaking Steve's hand made a "yikes" face and fled, and I still sat there laughing like a lunatic. Apparently the medicine I was on made me not care how loud I was laughing either. Poor Steve was so embarrassed, and he couldn't even stand up because of all the sauce on his pants! One of the caterers (the one I hugged last year was back, and I'm fairly certain he recognized me) quickly walked over and took the plate from me. I sat and snort-giggled until Steve was able to get up and find a bathroom to clean himself up in.
When he finally got back, I was calm enough to go back to the food and get some dessert. Now, what they were serving were these tiny little chocolate shells filled with various and sundry flavors of whipped cream, or something like that. I got two, and walked back to the seats. I sat down, picked up my first little dessert thingie, when my plate - which was sitting on my knee - tilted sideways. I managed to catch the plate before my food went into the floor, but not before almost crushing my chocolate thing. It startled me into saying "SON OF A WHORE!" a little bit louder than I meant to. Of course, that set me laughing again. Then Steve started laughing, and we were like two little kids in church trying not to laugh too loudly. Once again, the caterer was at my elbow, taking away the plate. It was then that I knew they had noted the frequency of my messes and had targeted me so that they could keep everything around me clean!
At that point I felt that Steve and I should walk around and talk to some people, so that we wouldn't have to hold plates anymore. While we were doing this, I started feeling very ill indeed, so I walked outside on the deck to get some air and there were the dogs! Of course, I immediately started petting them and talking to them. When I started feeling better, I was getting ready to go inside when I noticed the sweet dog faces looking at me. I could tell that they really wanted to go inside, and dummy me thought I remembered that they were trained only to go as far as the screened in porch, so when they followed me back into that porch I didn't think anything of it. I walked back into the house, and the dogs followed me!! I don't think this would have been a problem, had they been small dogs, but the 110 pound lab decided that not only should it visit as many people as possible, probably to see if they had food, she was also just the right height to pretty much stick her face into the chafing dishes. Luckily, very luckily, I managed to stop her before she did that. The woman caterer walked over to me and said "I don't think they're supposed to be in here!" and she chased out the smaller of the two dogs. It took longer, but the man caterer managed to shoo the giant lab. By that point, I was fairly sure the catering staff was very tired of me!
After getting the dog out, I somehow managed to lose Steve. Now, this house is big, but not so big that I could lose my husband in, but I swear he just disappeared! I stood in the middle of the room kind of non-plussed, looking towards all the different groups of people and not seeing him. I finally had to start asking people if they'd seen him. Of course, no one knew where he was, and I had a very bad moment of wondering if I'd embarrassed him to the point of just leaving me at this party to find my own way home! After some searching, and more than a few more moments of panic, I discovered him, wedged into a hidden corner of the living room (seriously, I hadn't found him that whole time because of a stupid bend in the room) talking to some of his coworkers. Yeesh. As I made my way over, I stopped at the bar to get a cup of apple cider. It was in one of those silver, heated coffee dispensers that you have to press a black flipper thing on the spout on its front. Since I'd pretty much spilled everything I'd had in my hands that night, I only planned to fill my cup half-way, and as I was doing that, the fricking catering lady jumped over to my elbow to make sure I was doing it right. Seriously. I was starting to feel stalked. I got away and made it over to Steve without spilling it, so IN YOUR FACE, CATERING STAFF!
After sitting there for a while, the yuck feeling came back fairly badly. I had to surreptitiously tug on Steve's sweater and let him know I was feeling bad again and wanted to leave. Although I'm sure he would have liked to have stayed longer, he was gracious enough to realize I honestly didn't feel well, so we got up and made our goodbyes to the host. I'd like to say that we managed to get away without any further embarrassment, but no. Because of where we parked, and because people had pulled in behind us, we couldn't get out of the driveway without some fancy maneuvering. In fact, in our attempt to figure out how to get out, we had to drive up and reverse pass a giant picture window that looked directly into the party about 37 times. We had to drive past and reverse so many times that it got stupid and we started laughing again. Big Ben...Parliament. I had to get out and direct Steve in what was probably a 42 point turn, one in which he drove a tiny way into the flower garden and almost hit one the dogs. We finally managed to get turned around and we left the party, our dignity in tatters and flaps, but everything else luckily all in one piece.
I think there's a part of me that would love to think that my antics (for want of a better word, I guess) were adorable and that possibly I could pull off being seen as sort of a poor man's (or in my case a very poor, homeless, and possibly meth addled) man's Zoe Deschanel: a precious, elfin creature that can't help but be awkward and freakishly cute while knocking things over and spilling everything, but I don't think that's the case. Instead, I'm fairly certain I'm more like that kid your mother made you invite to things and they were always the one to spill the red punch on the couch and break your new birthday toys.
I wonder if we'll be invited back next year?