“Professional Party Guest” has long been on my list of career aspirations.
I’m not kidding. I just ordered new Ridiculouswoman business cards, and they say, “Writer, blogger, speaker, singer” on them, but I’m thinking of getting some new ones with “professional party guest” added.
Or maybe, “aspiring professional party guest.”
I ordered the new cards the day before I binge-watched the entire first season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which was great.
But there was Midge, doing my party-guest act. (“Everybody does it,” right? – if you’ve watched the show, you know that Midge doesn’t.)
She was trying to work out her routine, and began accepting nightly party invitations where she’d end up entertaining the room – trying out material, improvising with another guy who was trying to make it in showbiz, and generally making a spectacle of herself, to the delight of the other guests (and the disgust of Susie, her manager).
Hey, Midge, dammit, that was my idea!
Except I intend to get paid for it. In money, not just free drinks.
Like the entire adult population of Chicago, I’m a trained improvisor, so why shouldn’t I make myself available to enhance your party? If you’re worried that some of the guests won’t get along, or be too boring, or won’t have anything to talk about, hire me! I can pretend to be mysterious, outrageous, elegant, charming….or just funny. Whatever floats your boat and adds a little pizzazz to the proceedings.
In ancient times (the ’50s and ’60’s) hostesses (back then, the party planning was done almost exclusively by women) worried about making sure they had the right combination of people at a party, especially a dinner party. If there was to be an extra woman (a widow, a spinster sister or aunt, or other pity invite) throwing off the seating arrangements, an “extra man” must be found. And vice versa.
That picture of me up there was taken on Thanksgiving, 2017 – our second one without Mike. I tried to make it as festive as I could for our daughter, following all the traditions we used to follow when he was with us. (Note Sophie the cat, in background in the Bulgarian-built kitchen, gazing appreciatively. Or more likely, wondering where her dinner was).
That year, it worked out great. This year, not so much. Lost my touch, when my rhythm was thrown off by our going to another house for the meal on the day itself. So I tried to do it all the next day. Disaster.
But I digress. I used the photo to indicate that under the proper circumstances, I can be amusing, fun, exuberant, charming, etc. You can’t see it, but I’m wearing one of those fit-and-flare ’50s style dresses with a crinoline underneath, and feeling pretty perky.
So that’s the woman I’d be as a professional party guest – dressed (ok – overdressed), smiling, laughing, the life of it.
I’m not as smart-alecky or quick with a comeback as Mrs. Maisel, so I need other people to play off of. Your guests should expect some prying or impertinent questions, or some barging in on their conversations (unless you want mysterious me, in which case I’ll be lurking alone in corners looking fabulously bored, searching your bookshelves. You do have bookshelves, don’t you?)
Here’s the Christmas version of ab-fab me:
If you look closely you can see the glass is chipped.
As part of last year’s New Year’s Revolutions, I threw it out. It was the last of our wedding stemware, which we never had very much of anyway.
I haven’t written the obligatory New Year’s post yet. It seems to be the done thing to create some sort of “best of” retrospective of the previous year, or share some new determination to get better, at something.
So, in 2019, I resolve to get hired as a Professional Party Guest.
No? But I have a purple dress for spring, just like the red one for Christmas! I have a demure black one with a white Peter Pan collar if you want me to look…I don’t know, “widowy” and demure!
And in another 10 pounds I’ll be back into that skin-tight blue one I wore to my high school reunion, or the same dress in red that I wore to the ballet, if you want me to look – well, like a woman of a certain age who probably shouldn’t be wearing skin-tight dresses.
I’ll be happy to entertain (converse with, get your mind out of the gutter, again) your “extra man.”
Seriously, think about it. Willing to make a spectacle of myself for a reasonable rate (and a coupla free drinks).
And a good time will be had by all.
Awaiting your invitation (and your check – half now, half when I leave the party, with everyone having a blast) I remain,