Ten Secrets to Surviving a Cocktail Party

‘Tis the season for cocktail parties. Some people enjoy them, I know. But then some people like to have various body parts pierced and tattooed and I don’t get that either.  I’m much happier enjoying dinner with a few old friends, at an honest-to-goodness table with an honest-to-goodness plate of food, than I am teetering about in heels, leaving a trail of puff pastry crumbs in my wake, searching for the rumoured smoked salmon nibblies and anyone with whom to engage in polite chit chat. Sometimes, though, there is no good way to avoid making an appearance. When I have to walk into a crowded room of fashionably attired strangers with high ball glasses in hand, these are my survival strategies.

  1. Sleeves look better than goosebumps. Pearls elevate any outfit, unless you’re a guy. It is tacky to overdress.
  2. Wear black. You’ll blend in with everyone else and can sneak out unobtrusively when you’ve had enough.
  3. Drink white. You might spill. Okay, you might not but I probably would;  if there is anything worse than spilling Beaujolais on your new white cashmere sweater, it is splashing it on someone else’s fabulous antique beni ouarain rug.

    source: pinterest via stepbystep.com

    source: pinterest via stepbystep.com

  4. Eat before you go.
  5. Do NOT engage in contact sports at the party.
  6. Conversation is like painting your living room, it’s best to stick to light neutrals. Avoid the brashly colourful, which means swearing off swearing, unless the party is hosted by the stevedores, truck drivers and lumberjacks my mother warned me against sounding like.
  7. If you’re going to quote someone (Dorothy Sayers was right, it saves on original thinking), avoid Nietzsche. “God is dead. God remains dead.” Bummer. Not good party talk.
  8. If you’re going to quote someone, pick someone amusing.  Woody Allen, David Sedaris or George Carlin are all worthy candidates or you can go more vintage with Mark Twain and James Thurber. Best of all is someone like Erma Bombeck, who found the funny in family life, a subject we can all relate to, and who has been largely forgotten by anyone under 40 so it’s reasonable to assume you can get away with stealing her lines:
    source: quoteHD.com

    source: quoteHD.com

    • I haven’t trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had sex on their lunch hour.  I’ve never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.
    • Never accept a drink from a urologist.
    • Never order food in excess of your body weight.
    • My theory on housework is that if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire or block the refrigerator door, let it be.  No one else cares.  Why should you?
    • Housework, if you do it right, will kill you.
    • Don’t confuse fame and success.  Madonna is one thing; Helen Keller the other.
    • One thing they never tell you about child raising is that, for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child’s name and how old he or she is.
  9. Have an arsenal of questions at the ready in the event the conversation suddenly goes as silent as the Blue Jays’ bats.  Ideally, your questions are about the very person you are talking to, a topic they are sure to enjoy.  One of my favorites is, “Have you had any vacation lately?” (though I tend to avoid that with teachers who stiffen up and get defensive.)  Once the other person is off and running about Tuscany, smile, nod and look interested.  They’ll consider you utterly charming. 
  10. Have a designated driver or taxi available to take you home.

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