June 4, 2006

I never understand people who go to big parties for fun.

A few weeks ago there was a big party that my friend Kim was invited to. It was the kind of Manhattan party that you read about, filled with celebrities and rock stars - the kind of party that everybody would die to get into. Not me. Unless you're famous, those parties are never fun.

I've been to a couple of red-carpet events, and if you're not a VIP you're invisible. The last time I went to one I overheard a photographer ask a woman with a clipboard who I was. Her response? "No one." How's that for a self-esteem boost? Being no one makes being invisible sound appealing.

But just because I don't want to go anywhere, it doesn't mean that I don't want to be invited. Getting the invitation is the best part of it. It's reassurance that I exist and confirms my presence in the world. Or at least that I'm still on a mailing list.

If I get invited to something, let's say an after-party for a movie premiere, here's what will happen: I'll open the invitation and feel excited. That will last three minutes. Then I'll panic. What will I wear? Will I look fat in it? I need to buy new clothes. I hate my clothes. No, I can't afford new clothes. How did that happen? I'm working all the time and yet I'm still financially in the same rut I was in a year ago. My life is a mess. What's the point of going to a party anyway? I have nothing new to say.

Then I'll change my mind. I'll force myself to go. I'll think: you can stay home any night of the week. Go, push yourself. You can leave any time. I'll talk to myself like a motivational therapist talks to a quadriplegic. "You can do it. Yes you can. Take a shower. Don't give up." I'll review the reasons for going. All I have to lose is a cab fare. And I might meet someone. Or make a work connection. Or have an enjoyable conversation about a new illness I've never heard of.

I'll RSVP and plan to go. Right up until an hour before. Then I'll reconsider and look for signs to stay home. Is that a raindrop? It is. I'll never get a cab in a thunderstorm. Plus, what are the chances I'll meet someone anyway? I'll end up giving my number to someone I don't want to talk to and then I'll have a stalker. The last guy I gave my number to at a party called the next day and left a message about how he felt our "connection". What connection was that? Maybe it was the moment when?I asked him what time it was and then said I had to go.

Either that or nobody will ask for my number and I'll feel like a big fat loser. Plus, I hate networking. I don't want to be that person scanning the party for people I should talk to. And I'm terrible at it anyway. If there's one person in the room who is unemployed with no connections, that's the person I'll gravitate towards.

I never understand people who go to big parties for fun. I suppose if I drank I'd look forward to an open bar. But I don't. Sometimes watching people get drunk can be fun - but there's only so long you can stand alone before someone comes over and tries to talk.
Even though I wasn't invited to the big party, I was still curious. So the following day I called Kim to hear all about it. "Oh, you'll be so proud of me," she said. "At the last minute I stayed home." But I told her it didn't count - because she's married.