Things Not To Say at a Christmas Party
There are some gaffs I've made that I've never gotten over. One is a Christmas party I attended years ago with my roommate, Keeley. I'd been invited to the party by Sara…she was part of our writing/acting group and she was pretty cool. I didn't know what she did as a job, but I knew she made money and it had something to do with medicine. To me, though, she was an actress. Just like I'm sure that to her, I was a playwright and not the girl in charge of fundraising at a local nonprofit.
Keeley didn't want to go. I forced her. "It's going to be so much fun! We'll meet lots of people, we'll get gussied up, free food. Come on, it's the holidays. And we're bored. And broke. And seriously in need of a party."
So Keels broke out the makeup and we played dress up. She wore a long black skirt with a bright blue angora sweater. Very chic, very stylish, very Keeley. I wore thigh-high black boots, a neon pink skirt and a stretchy black top. I was going for cute and artistic, but I think I just looked desperate.
We walked in the door and I knew we were in trouble. Everyone there wore khaki. A sea of khaki. In December. Khaki pants, shirts, skirts, even a khaki suit. There were about equal men and women, but everyone seemed paired up. The music played softly in the background: something classical and smart. People milled around talking in hushed tones, using a lot of medical sounding terms. "Wooo-hoooo!" I said to Keeley. "Are you ready to par-tay?".
She sat down in a corner and hugged her bag. I walked to the food table to get some dip. I interrupted a group of people and to show Keeley that we really belonged here, I busted right into that group and introduced myself. "Hey there! I'm Tanya, a friend of Sara's." they looked at me, at my outfit, collectively blinked. "So. Okay. What are you talking about?"
"We're talking about work," a woman said. "We're pediatrists."
"Wow. All of you? Pediatrists, huh?"
They nodded, eight heads bobbing. "Are there that many people in Grand Rapids with bad feet?"
More collective blinking. "You must like warts," I offered. Hehehe. "I've got one I could show you. It's a doozy!"....
The woman swallowed a smirk. "I believe you're thinking of podiatrists. We're pediatrists. More commonly called pediatricians. You know, we help children."....
"Sure. Yeah!" I said. "How are their, uhm, feet? Probably pretty good." Then I dipped a celery stalk into some ranch dressing, got a glob on my shirt and turned to Keeley. Before I could make my escape, a gentle man in the group asked: "And what do you do, Tanya?"
I could have told them I wrote, produced plays, acted. But none of it paid me any money. And it was only local stuff. So I told them my real job: "I work in fundraising. At Gilda's Club. It's a cancer support center. A great place. Super fun."
I swear there was a gasp.
The Pediatrist Woman said: "Cancer? Fun? My mom just died of cancer. It wasn't fun. It was terrible. Four horrendous years."
A guy said: "Yeah. My dad has cancer right now."
Well, Merry Christmas everyone.
The khaki sea parted. I walked over to Keeley. "You ready now?" she asked. And we took off quietly for turkey ruebens.
Sara never invited me to another party again. I guess Christmas parties and cancer don't mix. Who'd have guessed?