Hosting hopelessness: Lame parties leave emotional scars

Published January 11, 2012, in MSUM’s, The Advocate

If anyone knows about lame parties, it’s me. I’ve hosted many of the most uncomfortable get-togethers possible, ranging from pirate to Pocahontas-themed shindigs since the age of birth.

Obviously, I’m sure the birthdays from the ages of 1 to 5 went according to plan, but the years after that brought oddness and awkward feelings to one and all. Even at family birthday parties, I managed to make it uncomfortable for not only myself but for everyone else with my over-the-top thankfulness and dramatic openings. I didn’t want anyone to feel bad by thinking I didn’t absolutely adore what they got me, even if it was a pair of white socks.

So, I dramatized my thankfulness with gasps, jaw-dropping moments and, more than likely, squeals of joy for even the smallest of gifts. No doubt, a box of toothpicks would have received the same response.

Anyone who knows me knows I do these things when I’m genuinely excited, but c’mon. No one gets that excited for a pair of plain Jane socks when you’re 7 years old unless you’re the Little Match Girl, shivering in the bitter cold.

I once received a box of pencils as a gift during one of my “kid” birthday parties and appeared to be eternally grateful, though the graphite barely marked and the erasers only smudged. I think I still have them (No, I’m not a hoarder).

Needless to say, I received many eye-rolls and comments from two of my three siblings (Nate accepted my insane reactions more than the other two).

After years of getting teased for my grateful responses from my other brother and sister, I formed a complex — a gift-receiving complex. The over-the-top reaction I had formulated over the years was ready to exhaust my energy and jump out during present opening, but I held it back. I tried to be subtle but felt guilty for the suppressed drama of thankfulness I was used to displaying.

All birthday parties aside, the inner host in me felt the urge to have seasonal parties, so beginning in elementary school, I attempted to bring my friends together. Around Valentine’s Day in 5th grade, I invited some girls over for a sleepover.

One girl annoyed a few of my friends and me by eating our entire supply of pistachios and spilling beverages. The next day, she managed to fall down the stairs backward, almost managing to knock down my brothers’ senior portraits on the wall.

This was when our group separated, two of my friends being annoyed along with me while the other comforted the girl who tumbled down as we played with my Beanie Babies. My lack of sympathy was due to the fact I saw it all happen, and I still believe she did it on purpose since she looked around and slowly started falling backward.

My parties continued to wreak emotional havoc in high school. Barely anyone ever showed up, and sometimes, no one did. When they did, I often wanted the night to already be over due to the odd personality pairings of guests. At least the food was always scrumptious, and the house always looked wonderful.

Sophomore year of college, a few of my friends and I decided to throw an ugly sweater party, like so many others before us. It was my idea, of course. I always have a plethora of party ideas, only for them to end in awkwardness and emotional drainage.

Once again, the guest list was thrown together, and as the guests trickled in, discomfort grew. We had the place decorated, food and drink bounteous, but personalities were clashing. My panic heightened as I dragged Melanie (my roomie and one of my best friends) with me to “go buy more paper plates,” just to get my head together and come up with a game plan.  Yes, we left our own party for awhile.

Toward the end of the night, people loosened up and it ended up being enjoyable, but I still vowed never to host another party again, until this fall, that is.

My parties have left scars that have gone more than skin deep, so when Melanie and I decided to host a holiday Old Hollywood- themed party in our apartment, I dreaded the outcome with pessimistic predictions. Melanie had to give me several pep talks before the night arrived.

Unlike many years, some of my friends and acquaintances are annoyed that they did not receive an invitation to this last get-together. Obviously, I feel terrible for making anyone feel excluded, but I did not rent out a venue, and I didn’t want a noise violation as a reward. Besides, if I had, based on my track record, no one would’ve come.

The moral of this story is this: If your life has sewn together a quilt of quintessential party flops, take heart. Someday, you may find yourself being the host of a, dare I say it, enjoyable event.



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