September 15, 2011

At the Party

todd_S_2010aBy Todd Schoepflin

The neighborhood was nicer than mine, so I was a little class conscious upon arriving to the housewarming party my friend at work had invited me to. I'm still getting used to housewarming parties. Am I supposed to bring a gift to congratulate his movement up the ladder? What's an appropriate gift? A welcome mat? A vase? A decent bottle of wine?

I opted for a bottle of wine and scribbled a note--"May you always be happy in your home." The sentiment was sincere. There were some beautiful people at the party, a bit intimidating in their trendiness. Each person seemed to have a knack for finding the right thing to say. I was a little tongue-tied that night. At parties I search for good conversation. I'm less interested in food or drink. I'd rather find someone with something interesting to say.

I found one eventually. About halfway through the evening, I met a guy who seemed a little out of place. He was the odd sibling of my friend from work. He presented himself as the scrappy blue-collar guy who doesn't care much for houses and possessions. He cares more for drinking beer and playing horseshoes. We teamed up for horseshoes and beat all comers. Why it feels like such a grand achievement to beat strangers in horseshoes, I'll never know. But it does.

We became fast friends, shooting the breeze about lost loves and lost opportunities. We talked a lot about annoying people from our past and wondered why people are so caught up in cell phones and Facebook. We shared an observation that everyone at the party was white. We wondered why people from the same race always seem to congregate. Is it so hard to befriend someone of another race?

We also noticed that guys mostly talked to guys, and women to other women. We overheard guys talking about home projects. We heard moms talking about being moms. It was all pretty stereotypical. One guy managed to strike up a conversation with an attractive woman. He flirted, she flirted back. Man I love to watch people flirt. I was something of a flirt in my younger days. So I always appreciate someone who's good at flirting.

When the clock struck midnight, it was time for me to go. I'm always the first person to leave a party. It's just what I do. I never need to find out how the party ends. In fact, I'd rather not know how it ends. I went home hungry because I passed on all the nice food. I stopped at Great Pizza, which isn't great at all, but I always like to end a Friday night with a slice of pizza.

All in all, it was an interesting night. It's always fun to find out what makes people tick.

Author's note: This is a work of fiction. I wrote this story as an example of what I had in mind when I developed a writing assignment about the sociology of parties: http://creativesociology.blogspot.com/2011/07/sociology-of-parties-writing-exercise.html

You might want to try it yourself after your next party.

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Comments

I read your paper 'On Being Degraded in Public Space'. That was a very insightful discussion into whether you had been degraded ceremoniously. I sympathise with the feeling of distrust that arose from the situation and hope you have found closure now that Journal #4 has finally published it.

Hi Rachel. Thank you for your kind words. I have let go of some of the distrust that I describe in that article. I don't look over my shoulder as much as I used to. Ten years have passed since the incident I analyze in the article, so I guess time has a way of healing wounds. Thanks again.

A good housewarming gift would be anything that he needs for his new home. If theyre too expensive, find out what the person needs, and go get it. Or, just the card would have been good enough. Sounds boring in my opinion if its like that; guys talking to guys, girls talking to girls. I'm young still and if I were you I would have tried to get everyone talking. Not just guy to guy, girl to girl, but guy to girl, girl to guy.

Now that we're adults and most of us are married, I think one reason guys stick to talking to guys is that if they talk to other women, their wives get jealous. I try to mingle with everyone, and have noticed if I get into a conversation with a man, pretty soon the wife shows up and either joins us or whisks him away. I'm happily married and not a flirt, but I am friendly and that sometime gets misinterpreted.

House warming gifts - I bring a bottle of wine, or a plant or flowers. Something "non-keepable" in the long run. Most people don't need more "stuff".

I believe that the older adults tend to stick with the same race and the same gender because like someone commented earlier their wives might get a little jealous and usually the same race tends to work together. On the other hand, being a student in college I believe that at parties women and men communicate and flirt more because we are young and most of us are single trying to get to know one another or most men are just looking for a hookup.

Also, I feel like the topics that are spoken about at house warming parties are different then most parties that I have attended in a social manner. We talk more about us in the present rather than us in the past like he has talked about in this blog.

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