Safety in Numbers

I always found parties where you have guests to be such a nuisance.

-Best Friends

You can't legislate popularity.

That's one thing 12 years of parochial school taught me, and that's kinda what I meant when I wrote about being so crushed last week when I don't make a guest list.

Just go ahead, push me down, take my lunch money, and get it over with.

I guess everybody thought I was talking about them, because the next morning, I got a LOT of apologies - mostly from people who'd had parties within the last six months that I didn't even know about (but it's never too late to be offended) - as well as a LOT of invitations to upcoming parties from people who seemed to be trying to cheer me up. Which I thought was incredibly sweet, and touching.

The thing is, the party I was writing about wasn't even a party I wanted to attend. I just wanted to be wanted there.

Or as my pal Rockford put it, "you just wanted him to say, 'it'll be boring and I'm only going because I have to, but baby, you're more than welcome to come'..."


He could've varied it a little.

Like maybe he could've called me 'Kitten' (like Rockford does) - as opposed to 'baby' - but either would've been ok.

And it's worth noting: Rockford always has a girlfriend. Usually a good one too.

In truth, my probable response would've been, "I'd rather stick needles in my eyes..." but I'd still have gone and tried not to embarrass him.

Geez, I'm not Ernest T. Bass. I clean up nice. I don't spill at the table. My conversational skills exceed, "How. Do. You. Do. Missiz. WilEY."

I either wanted to be asked, or at least casually presented with some plausible excuse why I wasn't. (If I didn't take him somewhere, I usually volunteered the reason, like "it's just us girls," or "you hate these people.")

Rockford immediately honed in on the source of my distress - realizing it sure as hell wasn't because I was worried I might miss a free drink.

The best date I had last year was staying up all night in front of the fireplace and listening to records (not CDs, records). I love to stay home.

Last week, I was out every single night... most all of them spent making small talk (at which: I suck) and longing for the sweet, sweet release that only death could bring.

So last Saturday night, when I was invited to two parties (which I have no doubt, were superb), I opted to spend the evening with my 3-year-old niece, Emma, instead.

First we had Chinese food. (Sure, she ate her fortune when I wasn't looking, as opposed to reading it, but I say, go your own way, baby.)

Then we went to Dairy Queen for ice cream while her mom went shopping. I had a Blizzard. She had a kid's cone (some of which, I think I might still be wearing).

I enjoy teaching her things that will horrify her parents, like how to describe HBO's Oz... as "gripping prison drama."

"Oh, we were supposed to watch the WIZARD of Oz...?" I'll say later, incredulously. "Well... You really ought to be more specific."

Generally speaking, over dinner, I enjoy lively discourse on politics, religion, books, movies, or current events.

Emma, on the other hand, likes the color green. And that's cool, too.

This isn't my biological clock ticking - this is more about the fact that I've always wanted to be a bad influence, and now I get to be.

Last Saturday night, for example, she tried to teach me: "don't put things in your mouth without asking a grownup first." I told her this info was too late for Bitter Aunt Rhonda, but that it's a good rule.

That was my kinda night out. Because the truth is, I really don't like parties all that much.

Because I am very, very, bad at them.

Crowds bring out the worst in me.

Like when some goth chick last weekend asked me to get her a Stoli and juice, I said, "I have Belvedere."

When she turned up her nose and condescendingly sniffed, "what's that?" I responded, "expensive vodka that hasn't been passé since 1987."

About that time a wingman put his arms around me and dragged me backwards into another room, where he tactfully suggested bartending was not one of my finer talents.

But the truth is, by the time I get to any party (as hostess or guest), it's involved so much anxiety, that I'm almost invariably the most unpleasant person in the room. As a hostess, I'm always convinced no one will come. As a guest, I'm usually convinced (accurately) that I will accidentally break something of value.

The stress is unbearable.

One night last week, for example, I left work late. Got home, stepped into the shower, and was - within minutes - standing in soapy water up to my knees. An hour to go till party time, and I was snaking a drain.

I explained that to people when I arrived late, and I think they thought it was some weird sexual metaphor, but it wasn't.

At this particular party, my conversation partners included Australia's kickboxing champion and two pro ball players. A good party by anybody's standards.

At another point, I was being hand-fed grapes by the sexiest surgeon in town (oh it was all very Roman, and I've known him forever, lest anyone think I let just anybody put just anything in my mouth... and I did ask a grownup) - until, out of the corner of my eye, I saw somebody spill a drink.

Whereupon I unceremoniously jerked his fingers out of my mouth, grabbed a towel, and started mopping up the ice before somebody could slip and kill themselves on the hardwood floor.


A lot of girls might've let that go, in favor of enjoying the moment (an admittedly good moment).

Not me... Because I am not a glass half-full kinda gal.

If I see a glass half full, all I see is a lawsuit waiting to happen.