Tuesday, June 24, 2008

From: Snook (The Elder) at Home

15 Ways to Keep Your Friends Entertained at Parties

1. When you arrive a half hour early make sure not to help with the preparations. Neither should you offer to help. Appear annoyed with the host and hostess when their busyness prevents them from hanging on every word of your rambling introductory palaver.

2. Do not bring any wine of your own or for the house; scrutinize the labels offered you by the other guests (when they arrive) and the host. Emit short, sharp guffaws at regular intervals--preferably as you set the given bottle back down on the table--shaking your head without cease. Reluctantly settle on one. Do so with a sigh.

3. It would appear that you have an acquaintance in common with one of the other guests! Hint that this has made you privy to information of a delicate nature pertaining to him. Say, "Oh! so you're X! Yes, Y has mentioned you. A number of times!" When X nervously asserts his hope that "only good things" were the cause of Y's confidences, draw X's attention to the bad/good weather, the prettiness of the neighbourhood, the unsettling situation in the Middle East, etc.

4. You would prefer that the property you've recently purchased be referred to as a flat, not a "condo". Even your real estate agent learned this in fairly short order. Anyone, therefore, of the gathering who insists on calling your flat a "condo" after you have tersely corrected them the once, is to be sneered at openly, or simply ignored.

5. When the food is being served, express a particular interest in only one of the items on offer. Do so in such a way that it becomes clear that your interest is inspired less by the the virtues of the given dish, than by the repulsiveness of all the others. Pick at your food as would a particularly spoiled Siamese cat of childless owners. Be the last to finish, without actually having finished.

6. Appear quietly, though conspicuously, aghast that two of your fellow guests have been encouraged to have their postprandial cigarettes indoors, and at table. Take shallow breaths for the length of time it takes them to complete the abominable act, periodically batting at the air around your head. Suggest that you might need to step outside for a breath of fresh air; make it clear what an absurd notion this is but for a world, apparently, gone topsy-turvy.

7. Complain that the wine being served after dinner is inappropriate. Do not say so directly, of course. Instead, convey a mild, even unserious shock that Port was not the chosen accompaniment to the very rare, very creamy Brie. When the host then semi-seriously offers to open a bottle of Chip Dry for you, do not protest, but do not accept either. Allow the natural awkwardness of the situation to guide him back to the rack.

(REMEMBER: the secret to the most memorable behaviour at parties is making the satisfaction of your vulgar demands the quickest and easiest remedy to the unbelievable uneasiness your every utterance generates.)

8. You overhear that one of the more soft-spoken members of the party has expressed--in confidence to their neighbour--an interest in farming. Make sure to mock this relentlessly and without subtlety. If that same guest happened to mention that she reads a website called the Tiny Farm Blog, be sure to refer to it as the "Iddy-biddy farmer blog or whatever." Turn to the host at the opportune moment and say in hushed but quite audible tones: "Oh God! She's talking about her iddy-biddy farmer blog or whatever again!" With any luck, the host will be taken sufficiently unawares that he will appear complicit in the humiliation.

9. Further to tip #8: assume an air of familiarity with the host that verges on the intimate. Do so in full view of the hostess. Point out to the hostess at some point that she has been slurring her words.

10. If one of your fellow guests, the host, or hostess should appear deeply hurt or insulted by any of your petulant barbs at any point during the evening, remind the gathering that you are not in the habit of consuming alcohol on the scale that they apparently are. If the hour is late, you might consider sulkily waving off any further attempts to fill your glass. Appear disappointed that your resolve in the face of temptation is not being emulated by everyone else.

11. Your hosts and a number of the guests are fond of cats, and the conversation has turned to that subject. This is risible in the extreme, insofar as you neither like nor own any cats. Make sure to point out the error here. This will provide you with an opportunity to resume what you were saying re. the dubiousness of honouring blood-soaked warmongers on a "Remembrance Day". (Incorporate the use of finger quotes.)

12. Contradict yourself often and completely over the course of the evening. Side always with the strongest opinions being expressed--no matter how stupid--so long as they have the approval of a bulk of the most self-assured-seeming guests. Laugh derisively and without mercy at any dissenting opinions, particularly if they have been made by the more nervous members of the gathering.

13. Apropos of nothing, announce that the reason you have been avoiding the company of the few beer drinkers present is that you "don't want to be belched at."

14. It doesn't matter that barely any of the party are familiar with the works of Iris Murdoch! Or that those who are, don't particularly like her! Nor, indeed, does it matter that you never actually met the woman yourself, but that it was your mother who did when she was pregnant with you, and that the event was painfully unremarkable! Iris Murdoch's is a name that should be dropped often, casually, and in connection with yours!

15. The host has produced a selection of single malts, which he has arrayed decorously in the centre of the table. Amongst these, you'll notice a bottle of Dalwhinnie--a whisky so smooth that the joke amongst connoisseurs is that it is meant for ladies. Point this out to everyone as they choose their nightcap. Indeed--now that the host appears to be distancing himself from you for some reason--insinuate with the bare minimum of tact that this is likely some reflection either upon his sexual orientation, or the size of his genitals. Obsess over the bottle as though it were the only one on the table. Should someone insist on taking some in order to relieve the host of the burden of your belittling inferences, snort loudly and begin a quiet conversation with your neighbour, never allowing the smirk to fall from your face.

BONUS TIP. In future, should you run into any of those who attended the party with you, make it clear that the occasion exists in your memory only as an unduly painful event following the evening in question. Suggest that this was likely due to the negligible quality of the cheese.