I’ll say this for the office party: it’s great for bringing out the year’s pent-up frustration and hostility. I spent mine suffering altered-state-of-mind envy as I mentally paced the side-line of wanton inebriation. Being the getaway driver will do that to you. Not that it prevented a steady decline into incoherence. My final act of conscientious efficiency was to bite my lip at the more preposterous remarks for as long as possible before joining in with an endless supply of my own. Just another regular work meeting then; with added flashing earrings and paper crowns in various undignified states of lop-sidedness. Neither of which lent credibility to the litany of Any Other Items folk were determined to swashbuckle their knives over.
If Doreen thought I was blithely playing a game of hypocrisy by giving our daughter her Da’s surname while keeping my own, then she should’ve known better than to start eating before everyone was served. She just undermined her own argument, even if the soup was gloopy. Yes, two can play at applying arbitrary levels of judgement and respectability. Or six women who rarely meet outside the meeting room, in this case, leaving a gender imbalance to be excessively polite to the waiting staff. It should’ve been an all-sorts of 15 but various car-part fatalities, emergency excursions to the lobotomist, and mysterious illnesses, intervened at the last minute to reduce numbers. The lucky fuckers.
Every cloud has a few glasses of wine going spare, so by the time dessert came round Nora and Doreen had substituted one of the crackers with The Church. One of those crackers too cheap to be pulled it had to be tug o’ war’ed with for ten minutes before both sides surrendered; each vowing to agree to disagree before disagreeing with themselves and resurrecting it again.
Bonhomie recovery was swift once Denise found some mutual colleagues to bitch about. By the time Shakin’ Stevens had done his third encore, the talk had entered the ostensibly safe realm of children. Doreen’s crown was nailed to the floor with her own heel so I was certain Nora was going to offer hers on hearing she had six children no less. Nora thought she was doing well with five. Neither would change a thing. All they knew was they wanted more than one. Denise beamed congratulations at them both as she traded overlaps with her own three. And I smiled, willing one of them to embarrassingly start stacking plates just so I could even up the score.