Wait, why do introverts need to party at all? I give you this, my dear: destiny. Sometimes, no matter what you do, destiny makes its presence felt. There will invariably be some party you just cannot miss – an office do of the husband he has to attend to be polite, a family gathering you must go to or risk being called snobbish, you get the idea. Considering I already battle my fair share of “why don’t you talk to us more often”, I try and avoid this scenario with R. So, when he whisked me away to this event, I found I couldn’t say no.
How the party was is something I won’t comment on. It was like most parties, I guess. The usual, enthusiastic host, much fuss made about “how good the food is”, music that was much too loud, and dinner that was served later than is rational. After budging R a couple of times and murmuring “hi” to a few people before staring intently into my phone, I decided to create some golden rules for partying. I am going to religiously follow these from now on.
1. Never leave the house without completely charging your phone. It can save you from many awkward situations and empty conversations. Better still to load it with some interesting reading material – you can discreetly read on it without being labelled unsocial as you’d be if you were reading on a Kindle or an i-Pad.
2. Spend time with your drink. Do not gulp it down but instead, fiddle with your glass, put it here and there, and twirl your fingers around the rim. It’s easier to do than fiddling with your food and you can pass several minutes looking busy and self-absorbed.
3. Elongate phone conversations from family and friends. They will be happier for it, and you have to admit, hmming and hawwing over a phone is easier than talking to twenty people you don’t know at all.
4. Frame a few stock responses in advance. There will be a few questions that may particularly aggravate you so it helps to have replies planned. “So you’re new to the city. Have you made any friends yet? How about I give you so-and-so’s number?” “It surprises me but I have made quite a few friends already! Let me free up my social calendar and get back to you…” (“Who are these friends?” R asked me later. I gave him a poetic response. “Sunshine, the plant outside our window, the chicken soup…ha!”)
5. Try and not give people cynical looks. Not even when they try to err, sing, or dance, or serenade their partners in public, or act uber cool, or wave their floppy hair about. It takes all sorts to make the world so the best course of action may be to just nod, smile and ignore!
6. Plan your escape route properly. Don’t sit at the centre of the room and don’t let yourself get surrounded by crowded tables and people who look particularly gossipy. It’s better to stick to the walls, know where the exit is, and have a clear farewell message for the host. You don’t want anything or anyone to keep you when the sweet time of departure arrives.
7. Eat. Don’t feel shy or watched or judged. It is easier to tackle parties when there’s some chicken down your stomach and more in your plate.
8. Stare out of the window. You may find a stray kitten you can pet, a trace of a cloud in the nightsky, or the city lights shining pleasantly. Point being: you’ll find a thought to think and time will fly. Other ideas: the movie marathon you will have later at home, the pizza you’ll eat all by yourself, the cozy quilt you’ll disappear under and shut the world out…
9. Finally, any time during the party, when you feel yourself getting too bogged down, tell yourself that this too shall pass. The people will soon be too drunk or too tired or too bored to try and make conversation with you. The hands of the clock will finally tick a time that’s not too early to say goodbye.
I daresay these rules will ease my life a bit the next time I find myself dragged somewhere. I don’t hate going to parties, no. In fact there is something I adore about going to one. See, when you have just been to a party and someone invites you to another, you have a brilliant, no-guilt escape plan! “But I went to the last party too, you see! I think I will give this one a miss…” And no matter how dreary the world is, the very prospect of a future socialising event you can comfortably get out of is cheering. Thank God for parties!