December 9, 2008
There’s a decent chance your office holiday party is this weekend. Excellent. After 11 months of petty politics, gossip, bickering, and backstabbing, you and your annoying co-workers are going to put the cherry on top with a booze-fueled yuletide blowout. Merry indeed. Still, corny though they may be, office holiday parties are exactly the kind of team-building exercise that upper-management types spend thousands of dollars trying to recreate with overpaid consultancy firms. It really sucks being put in uncomfortable situations where you have to relate to and rely on your co-workers, but at least with the holiday party you get the reach-around of being inebriated. Of course, that is, as long as you do it right. Surely somewhere in a magazine, on a website, through a Sunday sermon, or perhaps even in your employee handbook, you have been warned about the dangers of overindulgence at the office holiday party. And now every time December rolls around, there’s a little white angel on your shoulder whispering in your ear: “Don’t get drunk and say something stupid or embarrassing in front of your co-workers or, gasp! Your boss!” Right? Bullshit. Swat that self-righteous little bitch off your shoulder, and order up an afterparty cab ride home right now, while you’re still sober enough to remember the address. Here’s the dirty little secret the man doesn’t want you to know: The problem isn’t getting wasted at the holiday party. The problem is not planning on getting wasted at the holiday party. Spontaneous alcoholism is cute and all. In fact, it has made for some really interesting Girls Gone Wild video footage, but real drinkers know that like any other potentially dangerous activity, it’s best to observe some basic precautions. Remember: This is the office holiday party. You’re not trying to pledge a frat. First things first, you’re going to need a ride home. Cabs are great, but don’t rule out that unctuous Baptist co-worker who listens to Joel Osteen tapes. On a team, everyone has a role. Hardcore stoners will work too, but be prepared for a long ride home – possibly with a three-taco pit stop at Jack in the Box. Whatever, just work it out in advance. You don’t want to let your crotch arrange for your ride home. Sure, you’re in control now, but a good holiday-party buzz can turn a chaste mistletoe peck into a slobbery game of tonsil hockey. Avoid PDA. You can’t just assume that people will know you’re only bi when you’ve been drinking – especially your boss. Especially when your tongue is down his throat. Really, when you think about it, team building is about learning to trust your co-workers, and nothing builds trust like sharing a really embarrassing secret that probably wouldn’t have happened if you were sober – something the Human Resources Department would have to write you up for. You don’t have to accidentally kill a prostitute or anything, but what happens in a hotel hot tub will probably stay in a hotel hot tub, which is why sober people avoid hotel hot tubs unless they’re sure the hot tub has recently been sterilized. You don’t have to go there. Leading a bunny-hop line with a lampshade on your head will do just fine. Some people might see that as attention whoring douche baggery, but others, mostly the ones in line behind you, will see it as leadership. Ideally, one of them will be someone who can give you a raise. Remember though: Team building isn’t about personal recognition. It’s about doing what it takes to get the job done. That’s a good description of what’s happening at Maplewood Elementary this weekend at the Cherrywood Art Fair, the annual fundraiser for the school’s art and gardening programs, as well as public art projects in East Austin. Buy arts, crafts, and clothing from original Austin artists, plus hear live music from bands such as the Coffee Sergeants, Colin Gilmore, Joe McDermott, and Troy Campbell. Admission is free, but you’ll want to bring a fat wallet to buy some nice gifts for the folks in Human Resources.