Thursday, December 09, 2010

reverb10: Party (oh good grief...)


What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

(Prompt Author: Shauna Reid)


Disclaimer: Due to the continuing cheesy self-helpness and/or annoying inaneness of the prompts that have been emerging of late, I'm being forced to respond in the only way that I know how short of abandoning this project altogether. If things don't change soon, I will be renaming it Things That Make My Arse Twitch.  If you are averse to cynicism, bitterness or bad language, don't bother reading any further.  Go read something dull and inoffensive instead. 


I think it’s fair to say that, for much of British & North American society, the word ‘Party’ necessarily and automatically means alcohol, bad music, more alcohol and acts of idiocy fuelled by as much alcohol as possible. Calling them shenanigans, I suppose, is a way to make them appear more charming than they actually are. This is all in the name of “fun”, and anybody who does not partake in such activities is viewed with great suspicion and cast out with mocking more fervent than that shown for any religious or political cause. For there seems to be no religion more feverishly practiced than the religion of “fun”, except of course Consumerism.

I don’t drink and the gene for small talk skipped me over. According to some, I'm a (GASP...wait for it...GULP) Party Pooper.  It's true.  I don’t do parties and I wear my badge of social outcast with a touch of pride. There is little worse than being the only sober person amongst a hoard of drunk party goers, convinced of their own charm, sex appeal, intelligence, talent for singing, sense of humour, happiness, love of all mankind and invincibility while under the influence of alcohol. Perfectly likeable people with whom I’d normally be able to hold a cogent, interesting, thought-provoking conversation become babbling strangers.  Also, herd mentalities scare me. People behave differently when they are gathered in groups. Even without the inclusion of alcohol the word group makes me shudder. 

I prefer to be with lucid people on a one-to-one basis. I prefer to enjoy music of my own choosing at a reasonable decibel. I prefer not to have to clean vomit or red wine out of the carpets of the flat I’m renting. Even these days, now that I’m older and the parties I may get invited to no longer involve vomit or shenanigans, I find it hard to be polite when faced with inanity. When I don’t like someone or something, it’s very clear. I’m no good at fake-smiling and pretend-liking and faux-flattery. I cannot talk about the property market or mortgages or designer furniture like it’s the be all and end all of my existence.  Honestly, I find farts more amusing.  So I have a tendency to be silent – which is the worst possible thing you could be at a Partaaaayyyyy. Because everyone suddenly feels the need to draw you in or ask you if you’re okay with a look that confirms their suspicion of your mental illness. Not that I’ve had a great deal of experience of this because, thankfully, I haven’t been to a Partaaayyyyy in a long time.

It’s a “nice” attempt at inclusivity for the prompt author to also word it as a “social gathering” and to write drink instead of booze, but I know what she really means, not least because it’s not a glass of Ribena she’s holding in her photo.  (And let's not even get started on the phrase "rock your socks off".  Even my arse is cringing at that.)

But even if I'd been fooled by that, I could not be fooled by the instruction to write about the clothes. In my mind, this cannot be justified in any way (fashion is the only swear word I try never to use) unless it refers to fancy dress – and anyone that I would want to socialise with knows that the only fancy dress that really counts is one that involves a small child and a costume made out of cardboard, string, toilet paper and cut-up pairs of old pants.

So I’m betting Shauna's definition does not include any of the “social gatherings” that I have attended this year, all of which included children (GASP!), yes, NUMEROUS children UNDER THE AGE OF 3, complete with sticky digits, mucky chops and loud voices, running around with gleeful abandon, some of them barefoot, many of them also naked or clad in nappies, OUTDOORS, in a PARK, being allowed to be themselves and feed themselves (the food was laid out on the ground and later demolished by pigeons) and climb into slimy fountains and splash each other and then fall over in sand and come running to embrace the nearest adult they belonged to for comfort kisses and cuggles. Which is a shame, because I actually enjoyed one or two of those this year. In fact, they are probably the best “parties” I’ve ever been to. And not a glass of booze or designer frock in sight.


Glovecat said...

Ha ha, nice. This project is really bringing up the bile, and I am enjoying the taste of acid very much :) You're right. The prompts are shit, but you are turning them around very nicely indeed.

Keep it up.
Or don't.
I like what you're doing though!


Anonymous said...

I love your response! Hope it didn't make you too twitchy to write it! I feel the same about parties - haven't been to one in years and don't feel like I'm missing out in the slightest!

Anonymous said...

Love, love, love this!
Thanks for a great post. :)

Callie said...

Ha! Love it! Reverb10 is too shiny, sappy, and calculated this year! Love your responses! Cheers!


FarmGirlInDC said...

I really liked your post and also prefer a small gathering of friends instead of a partaaayyyy. But I had a different reaction to the clothes prompt. Instead it reminded me of how I ended up wearing a swimsuit and cover-up to my own bridal shower. Oops!

Helen said...


Gwen Bell said...

This year is a totally different look & feel than last year, that's for sure. Taking it from a solo project to one with multiple organizers, multiple authors and thousands of people has been intense. Waking up to the stories of thousands, not hundreds, has been the biggest joy and hardest thing I've done this year. It may be one of the hardest things I've ever done professionally, full stop.

Wanting to respond to every blog post but knowing I can only get to a handful has been a challenge.

But it has also been incredible, having this many people spend time reflecting on their year, in public. Many folks are baring their hearts. And I see my role as bearing witness and supporting where I can. My energy is spent holding the container while allowing for new prompts, new energy, to be breathed into the project daily. Each prompt energizes me in a new way.

Each prompt brings with it its own question - its own promise - to make you think - if nothing else. I'm happy to see it has done that for you and your readers, too. To my mind, the project is a success if it helps even one person pause and notice. Thank you for letting us know, through this post, that it has done so for you.

Heartful said...

Thank you all, and Gwen, I really appreciate that you took the time to comment with the limited time you have. It's true this project is not what I expected, but it's certainly provoking deep responses from me. And I think I'm baring my heart too.

Karl said...

Heartful Dodger, hi. I started this project as an excuse to get back into writing as I had fallen slack.
I've had a bit of trouble with some of the more recent prompts because, like yourself, I don't tend to join in with the usual herds doing their usual herd-y things.
It was nice then, to see your approach of bare-faced honesty and cynicism.
Well written!


changapeluda said...

this is a kick-ass post
twitchy or Not!

Shauna said...

For what it's worth my full intention was for the word PARTY to interpreted by people any way they chose at all! Large or small! Just like the other prompts, I thought the idea was to interpret them to suit yourself. My own social gathering was just six friends coming over my place to make cupcakes. It's hard to capture that spirit in a 160 character prompt - if I had my time again I would have done it a lot differently. And I would not have used the phrase "rock my socks off" which is what i used to describe a great cup of tea! I guess when I submitted my prompt I never thought there'd wind up being 3000 people doing Reverb, that's for sure :)