I know, I know. This post is a bit out of sequence. So sue me.
Otherwise, read on...
Another year has come and gone. I’m not sure how that happened. One minute, I was unhappily dodging nosy relatives at Chinese New Year and suddenly a year has passed and I’m unhappily dodging manic crowds on Orchard Road as I stock up on Christmas presents for people I don’t like.
I swear, at this rate, I’ll soon be pulling up at the maximum security Sunset Home for the Terminally Bewildered. Close behind will be another truck carrying all my worldly possessions including a walking frame, a respirator and a lifetime supply of adult nappies.
Thank God for the Christmas parties to see me through this time of the year. There’s nothing like copious amounts of food and alcohol to take one’s mind off one’s problems (mid-life crisis, career doldrums, girlfriend woes, parental nagging…pick your poison).
Under the benign influences of an especially good Pinot Noir (or something on special from Cold Storage if you have a cheap boss), everything looks a little rosier. In particular, office romances that have been kindling the entire year take the opportunity to flame a little brighter, as men, who really should know better, pluck up the courage to strike up a brazen conversation with that hot chick from accounting.
I remember a Christmas party a few years ago when Matt, one of the lawyers working in my firm, approached a colleague who was minding her own business as she inspected the smoked salmon tray at the buffet table.
Matt had had the hots for this particular lawyer from the moment she first strode into the office in two-inch Manolo Blahnik heels and a body that caused every pair of male legs in the vicinity to cross and uncross. Repeatedly. But he’d never had the courage to approach her on account of her ravishing looks and her Harvard educated brain.
“She’s out of my league,” Matt told Saffy. “She’s from Harvard.”
Saffy was unimpressed. “Amanda’s from Harvard and she’s thick as two bricks. Why don’t you date her instead?”
“Saffy!” Amanda shouted from the other side of the room.
“She’s got the hearing of a bat, though,” Saffy went on in confidential tones.
But now, at this Christmas party, Matt felt uncharacteristically bold. He later blamed the cheap chardonnay he’d been drinking all evening. It helped, he said, smooth over his ragged nerves as he approached Darla. And also for later when he hid in the toilet after she loudly announced that he was wasting his time hitting on her on account of the fact that she didn’t bat on his team and already had a life partner.
It occurred to me that as if the dating scene wasn’t already perilously fraught with pitfalls for the single (or married) millennial man, there was now the issue of alternative options to contend with. “That’s progress for you,” said Matt who, to everyone’s surprise, ended up being best friends with Darla and her girlfriend. “We go bowling together.”
When Saffy heard about this, all she had to say was, “He should have just dated Amanda. He would have had much better luck.”
“Saffy!” Amanda yelled from the kitchen.
“I’m just saying!” Saffy yelled back.
In an odd way, we’re all looking forward to this year’s round of Christmas parties. Yes, it will probably be held in the office conference room. Yes, it will be held just when you’re meant to have an important conference call that’s scheduled to last two hours. Yes, it will be filled with people you work with every day. And yes, many of them will be people you have absolutely no respect for.
Amanda says she did a list the other day of people she disliked in her office and was surprised to discover that, except for the cleaning auntie, she disliked everyone she worked with.
“You must be really bored at work,” Saffy told her.
“This can’t be right,” Amanda said, looking disturbed. “How can I not like anyone I work with? I need to do that list again.”
But in the end, people you don’t like aside, what’s not to love about an evening of free booze and food, and the chance to make out with someone hot in the photocopy room?
And as Saffy points out, “Even if they’re not hot, the alcohol will help numb your better judgment! Hey, is Matt still single?”
If nothing else, all the partying will help me forget the fact that Chinese New Year is just around the corner, another occasion to be dreaded. As we speak, I’m psyching myself up for the inevitable “This had better be the last ang-pow I give you, ok? When are you getting married?”