Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?


"50 First Dates"






Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
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or Search by State

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Contact The Media
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Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue

Slanglish

It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations


Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"


















 
Mail Trillian here





Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)

CellStories

Alliance for the Great Lakes


Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras


The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.



Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.





Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains





























Life(?) of Trillian
Single/Zero

 
Wednesday, December 17, 2008  
I just received another gift from the Universe.

Sure, I'm not perfect. I have my personal issues with men and dating. I am not blameless.

But.

I feel a lot better, now. It's not just me. It's not entirely my fault.

The Man Situation, the dating scene in Chicago is so bad that Drew Peterson, that Drew Peterson, is engaged.

A woman, a young woman with her entire life ahead of her, finds dating prospects in Chicago so bleak that she has agreed to marry Drew Peterson.

For those keeping score, Drew has divorced two wives, one wife "drowned," and one is "missing." This new girl will be wife #5. Henry VIII had six wives - divorced two, had two executed, one died and last was his widow. Just saying...

But hey, like Peterson's publicist says, "He's got a right to be happy."

Oh, where to begin with that assertion. Wait. Drew Peterson has a publicist?

3:36 PM

Monday, December 15, 2008  
The holiday party season is in full swing. Office parties, neighborhood get-togethers and business lunches are on most social agendas this week.

I had two such affairs in the past few days. I saw some of the usual behaviors among attendees at these events. Behavior falling short of the pleasant, polite and mature adult marks. Reminded me of an old post which apparently needs to be brushed off, revisited and reposted. There are people out there who need some reminders in party behavior.

The Esoteric Poseur
Long ago and far away I was at a party. A rather "cool" affair with some art, music and academic types in heavy attendance. A guy came up to me and, without introduction announced, "I have nothing to offer anyone except my own confusion." It was like one of those '80s Calvin Klein Obsession commercials so I laughed - I thought he was joking. He was not joking.

He left me in a snooty huff, on to pounce and announce on the next girl. An hour or so later he targeted me again, this time announcing, "Offer them what they secretly want and they of course immediately become panic-stricken."

I knew he was quoting Kerouac with his first attempt at "shocking" me, which is why I felt so certain he was joking, assuming I knew Kerouac, assuming I knew the perfume commercials, assuming I'd think it was funny that he was making fun of self-important scene makers. This second assault, after his dismissive huff, left me annoyed. This guy was not Andy Warhol any more than he was Jerry Seinfeld.

You wanna talk to me? Talk. Use your words.

Or, if you feel it appropriate, use someone else's words in an either jokingly poignant or sadly ironic tone, acknowledging the origin of the quote and then moving along quickly to conversation with your own words.

If you're not smooth with the prose or if you just have a hard time approaching people, use that as your opening, "Hi, my name's Eric and I'm really awful at party banter. I'm a software designer, I grew up in New Foundland, I have two cats, I like manufacturing documentaries and I'm wearing a new shirt." Or something like that. Honesty is usually the best policy. Trying to come off as something you are not will almost always backfire. Badly.

This guy made a lot of assumptions. He assumed either a) I have not read Kerouac and would not recognize the quotes, thus assuming I would find him original and provocative (when in fact he was plagiarizing in an attempt to make an esoteric and deep impression), or b) that I have read Kerouac and would be impressed that he, too, “knows” Kerouac.

Both approaches are flawed. The first assumes ignorance, the second assumes arrogance.

Ever since the Kerouac poseur I've had a serious dislike for people who try too hard to be esoteric. I didn't like them before the Kerouac poseur, but I've seriously disliked them since. I made a conscious decision to avoid them.

Esotericism is not something you can fake - you are or you are not. Striving to be esoteric is like striving to be blond. Some people, with enough effort, time and influence, can achieve a close proximity, close enough to almost pass for natural. But most come off looking fake, cheap, insecure and stupid. Like frequent salon trips for root touch-ups, maintaining the charade of esotericism takes a lot of effort. And everyone always knows the truth anyway.

Better to make peace with who you are and what you have, or don't have. Approach the world (and other people) with honesty. Yes, that means exposing yourself and letting yourself be vulnerable. However, the lessons learned while allowing yourself the vulnerability of honesty are the soul enriching lessons which help you understand yourself. Understanding yourself, knowing yourself, makes you comfortable in your own skin (or hair or personality).


The Drunk Girl
Oh boy. Here we go. The bar is open. The food is bite sized appetizers passed on small trays. None of the girls have eaten much (if anything) for a couple days in order to fit into their cute holiday party outfits. It’s a recipe for disaster. She starts with a few sips of wine. She is really not intending to drink much at the party. But a few friends arrive, they all have a cocktail, she has another. And then another. And then another.

The next thing she knows she’s leading the room in the chorus of “I Like Big Butts” punctuating butts by salaciously slapping her own butt.

My observation is that The Drunk Girl is not someone who normally engages in loud, obnoxious behavior. But on the other hand…no one’s terribly surprised, either. She’s the sort of girl who is outgoing among her circle of friends, and has a pretty solid reputation…but also has a few stories circulated about her, too. She’s professional, but will seize an opportunity for “fun.”

In the grand scheme of things every party has a Drunk Girl. Someone has to do it. And letting off a little steam at a party isn’t a bad thing, releasing a little steam might even charge up the energy vibe at a dull event. But. If this is a company party, or an event attended by professional colleagues and you want to advance in your career, do not be the Drunk Girl at the party.

Sure, the chances are good that most everyone else is imbibing, too. Sure, other people are going to do stupid stuff at the party. Sure, the chances of your loud, obnoxious behavior being held against you next June when budgets are being reviewed for lay-offs are slim. But why take the chance?

A) eat something substantial before the event and
B) keep your alcohol intake to a minimum.
Have a cocktail, or two, but when you feel your cheeks flushing and your inhibitions waning, cut yourself off. If you can’t trust yourself to do this use the buddy system. Make a pact with a friend before the party that you’ll watch out for each other during the party. If one of you notices the other getting louder, laughing too loud, or, worse, singing, you get the other out of there, immediately. Have a safe word, or a safe phrase, like, “Jen, we have to go, remember? We’re meeting Mark and Susan? We really need to get going. Now.” A friend and I used to use the safe word, “Kirsten.” If you’ve seen Days of Wine and Roses this will make sense to you.

My observation is that serious drinkers, the real “Kirsten’s” of the world, are “good” at being drunk. They might get loud and sloppy, but at professional gatherings they can down several drinks and not become The Drunk Girl. They may be drunk, but they’re not the one everyone will remember the next day or next year. The Drunk Girl, the one everyone remembers, is usually not an alcoholic, or the one people suspect “has a problem” with booze. Which makes her loud, obnoxious, party-girl behavior all the more noticeable.

The Drunk Guy
Different from the Drunk Girl. The Drunk Guy is the one everyone knows puts away a lot of booze on weekends. He’s the guy who gets the kegs for the summer barbecues, the one who brings the hard stuff to the tail gate parties, the one who organizes happy hour get togethers after work and knows where the best drink deals for each night of the week. Looking for a two-for-one martini special after work on a particularly difficult Wednesday? This is your go-to guy. He’ll not only know where to go he’ll give you the names of bartenders, tell you mention his name and you’ll get an even more “special” deal. The Drunk Guy at holiday parties is pretty much what everyone expects. He drinks. A lot. And mingles. A lot. And from the moment he arrives he’s organizing a party after the party.

Okay. Not such a huge deal, right? Well, no. Unless you’re hosting the party. And Drunk Guy is effectively sabotaging your event by instigating an early departure for another location – a more promising party with stronger cocktails.

The Drunk Guy will also go around hugging and kissing women, perhaps even coming up behind an unsuspecting victim and grinding into her backside, or mock-grinding into her from behind. Everyone knows he’s had too much to drink and his behavior is to be expected. Everyone feels sorry for the women he assaults, but no one does anything. It’s pointless to call out or argue with a Drunk Guy. He’ll make a scene and make the whole thing worse. Better to tolerate him for a few minutes knowing he’s making the rounds and will move on to his next victim in a few minutes. And then he’ll move the party elsewhere.

One of the differences between the Drunk Guy and the Drunk Girl is that in real life, even without alcohol, Drunk Guys are usually teetering on the edge of obnoxious. Whereas alcohol brings out deeply buried party girl desires in the Drunk Girl, alcohol merely magnifies existing irritating personality traits in Drunk Guys.

Don’t be the Drunk Guy. Just because no one slags you off doesn’t mean everyone thinks you’re cool and loves your behavior at parties. Use the same tactic as Drunk Girls. Engage the help of a trusted friend who will limit your alcohol intake. Plan ahead of time to limit your socializing to a few people and engage them in conversation rather than shot drinking contests. Enjoy the party for what it is, not what it could be when you get a group together and leave for a club down the street.

The Topper
Like esoteric poseurs, I have little patience for Toppers in general. But their urge to impress seems to swell in party situations. I’m going to share another recent experience.

I could also call this section: How to Insult Your Host and Never Get Another Invite
I have two clients who know each other. CA and CB. A third client, CC worked on a charity with CB. So. To make an even foursome for a holiday dinner I invited the three clients to a nice restaurant. I mentioned the “guest list” to each of them, all three were enthusiastic about our little get-together.

The evening of the dinner arrived and CC showed up with their spouse. The spouse was never mentioned, by me or by CC, yet, there, in the flesh, was CC’s spouse. The reservation was for four people. Not five. The restaurant is very popular and it’s very difficult to get a reservation. Adding another person, a fifth, would mean a different table than what I reserved—if there was even a large enough table available. I tried to be polite and gracious to CC and the spouse, then excused myself to talk to the host of the restaurant. Fortunately this is one of those places where the staff is very polite and talks in hushed tones. I explained my dilemma. He understood. Rearranged the reservations and switched our table to one which would accommodate a fifth person.

Our original table had a stunning view. The new, larger table had an okay view. Not a huge deal, but, the unexpected addition of the spouse stole some of my hosting aplomb. CA and CB arrived, both a bit surprised to see CC’s spouse. CA is recently married. I felt horrible – it looked like I invited CC’s spouse and omitted CA’s new spouse. (Fortunately, I guess, CB is divorced so there is no spouse to neglect.)

Sure, I could have called attention to the fact that CC showed up with the spouse, uninvited. But. I’m a nice person and I try really hard to be a gracious host and put my guests’ needs and feelings above my own. Especially when my guests are clients. So I stayed mum on the topic and just bit the dignity bullet. I let the spouse issue hang over my head, not CC’s.

Turns out the spouse is a very pleasant person. Unlike CC who continued to manipulate and control the entire evening.

How?

Here are a few examples of a Topper at work.

The host escorted us to our newly revised table. The view was obviously not the best in the restaurant. Underscoring this fact was the empty table with a stunning view, the table which would have been ours if the spouse hadn’t been there. CC said, “Oh. I’ve never sat here. I’ve always been over there,” pointing to the primo area with the empty table which by rights was “ours.” Oh yes. I could have said many, many things. The host could have said many, many things. But no one said anything. CC’s obvious disdain for the “inferior” area of our table got no response.

The first thing CC did was appraise the silver and crystal. CC thought the silver should have been heavier. CC’s silver at home is heavier. CC’s silver is “real” and “solid.” CC’s crystal is the same as the restaurant’s crystal. CC approves of the crystal. CC didn’t like the “new” china in the restaurant. CC told us about the china the restaurant used to use and how the new china is inferior. And how CC’s china at home was purchased on one of many trips to Florence. Everyone at the table now knows exactly how much CC paid for said china and what the shipping and customs fees were to have said china delivered from Florence. CB, trying very hard to swing the conversation away from CC, said, “Trillian, do your have your grandmother’s lovely china out of storage from your move, yet?”

“No, not yet. My goal for the next year is to finally get settled into my place.”

CC then jumped in talking about the home they purchased and how they just paid the moving company and decorator to do all the unpacking and organizing.

I asked CA about the recent wedding and getting settled into a new home with the new spouse. CA got two sentences out about the wedding and CC chimed in with a lengthy description of her son’s wedding – two years ago – and how stunning it was, how fabulous all the details were (we know the details were fabulous because we heard every detail about the details – right down to the price tag for each detail).

The menus arrived and CC naturally had much to say about each item on the menu – and speculation as to how the items would stack up against similar food CC has ingested in France, Italy, New York and most recently Hong Kong. “The truffles here cannot possibly compare to those we had in Italy so I’m avoiding the dishes with truffles.”

And on and on and on it went. It’s not just that CC likes to brag. There’s more to it than that. CC feels a need to top everything. Doesn’t matter what the topic, doesn’t matter how slight or incidental the statement, CC must top it. CB mentioned the recent cold snap and wind and how difficult it was to walk her 10 pound dog. CC told us it was much worse where they live, that their 100 pound lab was struggling to do his business in the back yard because of the cold and wind. Which was much worse in their back yard than downtown. Okay, then!

The evening was painful. The tricky topic of wine arose. I asked if anyone had any requests or suggestions. I even said, “CC, you’ve just been to France, maybe you discovered something great when you were there.” Everyone, including CC, deferred to my judgment. The sommelier made a few suggestions based on what was being discussed for entrées. I made two choices. CC liked them both but of course thought they didn’t compare to what they had at another restaurant and naturally nothing compares to the wine they had in Italy and France. Of course. I did notice, though, that somehow both CC and the spouse managed to choke down several glasses – at least two bottles between them. I know, I know, that’s catty. I know. I’m just saying…for two people who hold such strong opinions about wine and my inferior selections, they sure guzzled down the stuff.

I know the psychologists in the crowd will point to inferiority complexes, insecurity issues, competitive drive and something stemming from a childhood trauma. Obviously CC, and all other toppers, have a need to “prove” their worthiness. I suppose one could make arguments in favor of pitying them. But. In the context of a dinner where they are guests, and there are other guests present, pity needs to be directed at the other guests graciously suffering through an evening with the Topper.

Pity, too, for the host who is left trying to accommodate all the guests and navigate around the Topper to include the other guests and their feelings. Every time a Topper opens their mouth someone is going to be belittled. The host is left trying to repair the damage. Toppers offend everyone and put the host in very awkward situations.

The bottom line is being a gracious guest and thoughtful human being. Even if you had a great experience in Tuscany or the weather really is horrific in your backyard, parties, events, are about socializing. Focus your attention and conversation on other people. If someone mentions how their tiny dog nearly blew away in the wind, offer sympathy and agreement that yes, the wind and cold are unseasonable. Done. You could ask them about their dog and maybe mention that you’re a dog parent, too. If they ask you about your dog you can add a few details. But there’s no need to launch into a “my dog is bigger/smarter/cuter than your dog” conversation.

This is a party not a competition. Prizes will not be given for best in show.

The Wallflower
Oh I know. I know. Of all the party personality types this is the least offensive. And how can I, a very shy person, stand in judgment of wallflowers? And, Wallflowers at holiday parties???

It’s not an oxymoron. Plenty of shy people have jobs. At those jobs they make contacts with clients and vendors. A lot of shy people are even outgoing in one-on-one situations. It’s the crowded rooms full of strangers which freak us out. During the holiday season there are professional obligations shy people have to navigate. Those clients and vendors will send invitations and truly want their colleague to attend their party/event. Wallflowers: Being shy is not a reason to shirk your professional obligations.

Nor is it an excuse to stand frozen in panic with your coat on next to the door/entry. Shyness can cause people to be inwardly panicked, or afraid, or nervous. Sometimes their panic/fear/nervousness reads as such on their face and body language. But unfortunately more often the panic on the inside reads as aloof or bored on the outside. Fear can read as disdain or contempt. Nervousness often comes off as frustration and irritation.

Yes. I'm saying shy people are often misunderstood. Because we tend to be quiet in group settings we're often labeled aloof, bored, snobby and, the one I hate most: Intimidating. I'm standing or sitting there gripped to the bone with social anxiety, barely able to speak and horrified that I may pee my pants if someone talks to me, only to find out later that people were intimidated by me and think I'm bitchy. If you're shy or have social anxieties I can see you nodding in agreement and feel your warm embrace through my monitor. You're welcome. I know. I don't get it, either. Never have. But. It's a cruel paradox we shy people have to deal with on a regular basis.

So, going into a party, especially a festive! holiday event, we have to be even more mindful of our body language and appearance. Smile. Summon every "I'm a warm, friendly person" vibe you have and shout it through every pore. Your demeanor is a reflection on the party, the party is a reflection of the host, the host is probably a client or vendor, so for the love of your paycheck, do whatever you have to do to look and act happy to be there.

This advice goes for non-shy people, too. But the shy among us might need the reminders because our social awkwardness tends to get the best of us in these situations and leave us looking for any excuse for less than gracious behavior. The good news is that this is a very busy time of year. Chances are high that you’ll have many invitations, some on the same day/night. Even if you don’t, this is a good “excuse” to leave a little early.
Do not, I repeat, do not tell your host you can only stay a few minutes because you have to attend another client’s/vendor’s event.
Do not arrive before the scheduled start time or 15 minutes before the end.
Show up at a reasonable time, check your coat, get a drink (doesn’t have to be alcohol) seek out your host, say hello, make conversation, enjoy an hors d’oeuvre act as if you have all the time in the world to spend there, then, seek out your host again, thank them for the lovely party and say good night.

If they say something like, “So soon? You just got here!” Make a very polite reply of, “I know, I’m really sorry, but it’s such a busy time of year…” If the host presses you for details about where you’re heading next, keep it brief and vague. “Our charity drive committee is getting together” or “My building’s having a tenant door decoration contest” are two that always work for me. Whether I’m going to another client’s party or straight home to bed, those two escape plans have never failed me and have spared the host from thinking I’d prefer to be somewhere other than their party. Yes, honesty is the best policy, but I like to be a gracious guest…and if it were my party how would I feel if one of my guests told me they were bailing out of my party in favor of a rival vendor/client’s party, or simply because I’m too shy to stand another second of social awkwardness? This is an instance where a white lie is the best policy. Letting your host maintain dignity and the impression that you want to be at their party are your responsibilities to the host. They're giving you food and drink, the least you can do is let them think you want to be there.

You have to make a real visit at the party. No ducking in, saying hi and leaving.

Do check your coat;
Do not keep checking your watch;
Do not hover by the door/entrance;
Do not find a dark corner behind a Christmas tree and hide;
Do remember you’re an invited guest, you’re special!;
Do remember that many other people there probably don’t know anyone, either.

Holiday Party Tip for Shy People: Volunteer to help! There is usually a registration/name badge desk, a charity raffle table or some other aspect which requires “staffing.” These are great opportunities for shy/socially anxious people to be involved and help take steps toward dealing with their social issues. (But do not force a shy person to “volunteer” thinking you’re doing them a favor – you could throw them into weeks of anxiety and resentment.) But for all the shy people out there, take it from one who shares your social concerns: Focusing on tasks is a great way to divert your attention from the room full of people you don’t know. And if it happens to be your work event, chances are good the CEO will see you volunteering and interacting with your coworkers. This is always a good thing. Plus, you’ll get to know other volunteers and you’ll meet a lot of people who pass through your station in a one on one setting which is much more manageable than walking into a crowd and approaching someone you don’t know. Once your volunteer job ends and you go into the party, people will recognize you from the registration or charity table. You have an instant point of conversation. Your fellow volunteers may know people and they’ll introduce you to the people they know. It’s still rough on us shy people, and I know it sounds daunting, but after years of trying to navigate holiday events with crippling shyness, I learned this “trick.” I have come to even (gasp!) look forward to a few events where I know almost no one there but I volunteer to help because it’s an obligatory work event and I “have” to be there. Better to have some control. If I can do it, anyone can.

The Rude Taboo Cad
Okay. These are holiday events. Parties. Chances are very good there will be many guests and you will not know all of them. But you might know many of them and so you might have a comfort level beyond social manners. You might have a false sense of camaraderie. Remember, no matter how many attendees you know and how well you know them, this is a party. Most likely a work-related party. The addition of twinkling lights, festive attire and alcohol does not eliminate the rules of office/professional decorum.

Politics, religion, sex and money are off limits for most conversations.

I cannot believe I even have to mention this, but after an experience over the weekend apparently this year’s political events are giving people a false sense of lax social rules. Unless (and in some cases even if) this is a political fundraiser, do not talk politics. You may still be living in an Obama victory haze, but other people may not share your enthusiasm, or they are appreciative of the party manners regarding avoiding political topics at social events. Respect them. Respect your host. Do. Not. Talk. Politics. Even if this is the hap-hap-happiest time of your life due to the recent election, cool it at holiday parties and events. And for the love of Emily Post do not take this opportunity to gloat your party’s or candidate’s victory over someone you know supported the opposing candidate. I know, I know, it should go without saying, right? But I witnessed a scene straight out of a bad soap opera the other night when a party guest took the opportunity to mock another guest about his political views. The attendee being harassed tried several times to change the topic, the host even intervened, but the political cad kept pushing and pushing and pushing his candidate’s victory. He caused a scene. The tone of the party went from festive and relaxed to subdued and tense. This was an adult, a professional, intelligent adult who knows better but is too caught up in the election year hype to see rudeness of his jocularity. He single-handedly ended the party. The hosts did their best to lighten the mood and get the festive buzz moving again, but people started leaving and the evening ended early.

If you’ve had surgery, an illness or other physical anomaly this is not the time to discuss it in great detail. (Unless you're over the age of 70 and live in Florida where illness, injury and doctors are the expected topic of conversation at get-togethers.) If you see a colleague who says, “Hi! I haven’t seen you in a while! How’d the ankle surgery go?” You can say, “Great!” or “Still in physical therapy but getting better every day!” Make one short, upbeat response and then steer the topic away from your surgery or illness. No one really wants to see your surgical scar, nor do they want to hear the details of the surgery and recovery. They want to know if everything’s okay, if you’re feeling okay. And yes, people do care if you’re not feeling well, but this is a party, keep the mood light. If they know you they’ll be able to tell if you’re not quite yourself. If you know someone has been going through a health issue, it’s okay to ask about their health but don’t press for details. They probably went to the party hoping to forget about their health issues for a few hours. It’s polite to inquire about their health but if you think they’re not feeling great, don’t press the issue at the party. Later, in a week or two, give them a call or an email. Show them you care and are concerned in a more personal way – not by calling attention to their issue at a crowded party.

Ditto with divorce/break-up. If you’ve gone (or are going) through a nasty break-up, do not look upon holiday events as opportunities to spread stories about your ex. Seriously. Again, I can’t believe I’m even discussing this. But, inevitably at some holiday event I hear the gory details of someone’s ex’s sordid affair. Even if everyone there hates your ex and can’t believe you ever went out with them in the first place, this is not the time nor place to spread hate or misery. It’s just not. If you’re having a hard time with a break up the holidays are going to be rough. I’m sorry. Really, I am sorry. I’ve been through a pre-holiday break-up and it’s painful. If you’re hurting (rule of thumb, if you’re still having crying jags) you might want to bow out of all but the most integral social obligations this season. My advice is go to the parties, but the second you start feeling depressed, lonesome or angry: Leave. Do not stay and attempt to lighten your mood with alcohol. A lot of couples are very happy and festive during the holidays. Maybe it’s the jewelry commercials or red glow of holiday lights or “Winter Wonderland” piped through every store in town or true Christmas magic, whatever the source or catalyst, couples do get all happy glowy gooey showy during the holidays. Be happy for them. Don’t kill their buzz. Let them have this.

Maybe you have a new addition to your family. A new baby, puppy, kitten, automobile, or house. Cool! It’s perfectly okay to talk about these great new additions, but a) don’t brag and b) don’t hog the conversation or steer every discussion to your new addition. It’s most likely the biggest thing in your life right now (or ever) and that’s cool, but it’s not as important to other people. They care and maybe are even sincerely interested, but polite, short conversation is a must – one or maybe, maybe two photographs, tops. End then and move the conversation away from your new addition. Or maybe you can meet another new mom or puppy parent or homeowner and have those in-depth conversations with them. If it’s a large party chances are good there’s someone who is going through the same event as you. Mingle! Talk! Do the rest of us a favor and find someone with that common interest to share your 500 digital photos, someone who, unlike the rest of us, will find the conversation endlessly fascinating. Especially this year with many people unemployed, do not go on and on about the marvelous new addition to your home (or huge new home) or extravagant vacation to Fiji. It’s fine to mention these things in passing but don’t go on and on about them. Especially at events where you don’t know everyone or their back-story. At said event with the political cad, the host invited several people who were laid off from the company over summer. Some of them will be back to work soon, but others will not. The host opted to invite these people because they’re still part of the company “family” and because it would offer a networking opportunity for the laid-off employees to mingle with clients and vendors who might know of job opportunities. I debate the “right/wrong” aspects of this, but it’s a reminder that these events call for modesty. You don’t have to feel guilty about your successes, but don’t brag about them at holiday parties (or in your holiday greeting cards, either).

For all party types:
Be a gracious guest. Focus your attention on other people rather than yourself. Engage yourself in the event. Even if you're having the worst time of your life, do your best to cover up that fact for the sake of your host who has probably worked very hard at planning the event. Volunteer to work the charity table or registration desk – this will allow social interaction with a lot of people but will also require you to focus on specific tasks. Alcohol intake will be restricted simply because you’ll be busy working. Where you might normally drink two drinks in an hour, if you’re busy working you will only have time for a few sips occasionally – reducing your intake probably at least by half. Plus, the head honchos will be around the charity table or reg desk so there’s more unspoken pressure to “behave.” Most people have the sense (and fear) to not be seen downing drink after drink in front of the company CEO.

10:59 AM

 
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