I’ve got a good idea.
For the anniversary of your birth, let’s get everyone that you know together in the same room at the same time. Make a party of it. You love a party! And your friends, some of them know each other, some of them don’t. Some of them like each other, some of them really don’t.
Go ahead with this party idea – despite the fact that you might just spend the entire evening greeting and then seemingly and simultaneously ignoring your friends as you can’t help look over their shoulder to the next lot of people arriving, hopping from foot to foot, ready to trade potted histories of what you’ve both been doing for the past 12 months, or weeks or hours – depending on the level of intimacy, or in some cases, deepening it. Forge ahead with the feeling of anxiety and selfishness that you will have invited all of these people here to spend the evening with you whilst you squander the entire evening fending off kind offers of booze so that you may keep your wits about you and remain on duty as your nearest and dearest disappear into the background so that you can rinse and repeat the process with the next lot of party goers.
Keeping an ear out for dissidence and dangerous discussions. Keeping an eye out for the zebras of your friends in amongst the lions and the cheetahs.
Trying to fight off the cliche that everyone else at this party is having a great time but you. The need to please everyone and make sure that everyone else is having a good time, got enough to drink and to talk about, and then turn around to greet then next newcomer only to find that they’re all here and you have no drink and no-one to talk to due to your party match maker skills kicking into warp speed. Best take yourself off to the bathroom, the best planned exit of all. No one will notice.
Then return, freshened up and raring to go.
“Jen here is a graphic designer. Dennis, didn’t you dabble in some form of interior design? You two will have a lot in common. Discuss.”
“Michael, you remember Tim? It was raining last time you met, it was at that gallery opening. How’s this weather tonight, eh?”
“Isabelle. Bob is a cyclist. You’ve ridden a bike once… haven’t you?”
Have a drink. Then accept the offer of another. Then another. Suddenly it’s too much.
And then do the entire thing in reverse. As people drape their necks with scarves and check their watches, wallets and phones, they wait in line to interrupt your carefully crafted surface-only conversation so that you can apologise to them for not getting to spend any quality time together but you were so glad to (at least) see them here tonight. And “we really must catch up.”
Never again. It’s better to be a guest at a party rather than the host.
They say that the best party of your life will be your funeral… but who will make sure that everyone knows one another and has enough to talk about? But the reason that they’re all here is because of you, selfish you, and you never really liked the attention anyway and you wish they’d just stayed home, it’s far too cold to come out on such a Winter’s day. Depressing really. And Julie and Mark had such a long way to travel… Poor them. They really are good friends to come all that way. I wonder if they’ve met Isabelle, I really must introduce them… she likes Yahtzee, too!
I’m dying for a drink.