Monday, December 13, 2004

Office Party

So, you all know that I'm starting my new job on wednesday. I went to the office holiday party on saturday and needless to say, it was interesting. I wrote it down because I don't want to forget it. Here it is:

The Christmas Party

The party is on Saturday night. It’s Tuesday. I’ve known about this party since before thanksgiving when I got that call of all calls asking me if I’d “like a job.” Yes, I’d like a job. I’d like a job very, very much.

“Send me your address.” He said. “I’ll send you an invitation to the Christmas party on December 11th.”

Of course I sent it. I wouldn’t want to be rude or flaky to the person who just answered all my prayers.

A few weeks passed from the time of that conversation to the Tuesday I decided to do something about the lack of invitation. I had been speaking with the managing director of the advertising agency about my formal offer letter and other such administrative business. He repeatedly voiced his enthusiasm to meet me on my first day of work, which was to be December 15th. As time went by and the invitation to said Christmas party failed to materialize in my junky mailbox, I decided that much against my will I would have to email someone at the agency about this matter. I didn’t want to email the creative director who had invited me in the first place because he is the boss. First of all, I’m sure that he is incredibly busy and that is why I never got the invite in the first place. Secondly, I care more about the impression I make on him and therefore preferred not to pester him about an invitation that he said he was going to send. It just felt like it would make me seem lame. So, since I had been having contact with the managing director I figured I’d brooch the subject with him.

Hi Patrick,
When I spoke with Dick on the phone before thanksgiving he had asked me to send him my address for an invitation to the
Christmas party on December 11. I haven't gotten an invitation and just wanted to make sure it was still going on. I didn't
want to be rude and not show up if I was supposed to! Can you tell me the details?


He sent an email back to me copying the girl that works at the front desk saying that she would give me the info and that it was in Malibu at 7:30 on Saturday. Elizabeth sent me an email later that day that confirmed the party was at the creative director’s house. It read:

Here’s the scoop:
The party starts at 7:30
Dick and Diane’s home
Malibu, CA
You can bring a guest
Cocktail attire
Food, drink and dancing
Approx. 200 staff, vendors and agency friends invited!

Looking forward to seeing you there...

Great, I thought. Problem solved. My mother and friends were happy, as I had been annoying them for advice on what to do in this situation of no invitation.

Saturday night my husband and I got dressed up and headed out to Malibu. It was foggy but not too cold. Perhaps that’s why it was so foggy: I suppose the temperature of the ocean was much colder than the temperature of the air and that clash created the fog. Down a windy little street the line of cars indicated: party. The valets looked like the Strokes and in their little untucked shirts and messy hair and valet get up I couldn’t tell if they were a Hives cover band or the people who would be parking my car for me.

Tall pillar candles in glass holders lined the drive leading to a table with a security guard. He asked my name and I gave it, knowing full well that I would probably not be on his list. And, I wasn’t. There was another couple standing to the side waiting to be let in and the security guard radioed to some woman to come. I assume she was the event planner. When she arrived, the guard told her the other woman’s name and mine, adding that I worked at Secret Weapon, which I had told him in my defense. Jesus, what do you think that I just trawl the back streets of Malibu looking for holiday office parties to attend? You never know. This is LA. The event planner waved us through and we proceeded down the driveway, past the port-o-potties, past the mint condition 66’ VW Microbus, and to the front door where another young gentleman told us to go through the house and back past the pool to the tent. And to watch our step on the red carpet as it was wet and dangerous to those wearing heels. Through the house, past the pool, past the coat check in the pool house into the gigantic red tent. The inside of the tent had so much furniture that it really seemed like a nice lounge or bar somewhere in LA. As every bar in LA is red according to my husband. I began to scan the room for someone I knew as you often do when you first enter a party and then I realized that I haven’t started the job at the agency for which this Christmas party was being held. Who was I scanning for? I didn’t know anyone. Except for Dick. I knew Dick. The creative director. The party host. The person whose party I felt like I was crashing. Of course my mission was to talk to him so that he knew I had made it to the party. I could have stressed about this situation half of the night if it hadn’t been for the fact that I ended up face to face with him as soon as I had gotten a drink at the bar. Perfect timing. It was incredibly dark in the tent as the only thing lighting it were a few chandeliers from the ceiling and candles on the tables. At first when I turned and realized that he was standing just a few feet away facing me I did that mental scan, like, “ok, that’s him right?” And just as I was about to affirm that assumption he sort of stepped forward and I said:
“Hi!” he said. As people do at parties.
“How are you doing?” He asked.
“Good!” I said, trying to sound enthusiastic.
“This is my husband John.” I introduced. They shook hands.
“Hi, Dick, nice to meet you.” He said.
My husband made small talk with him about the Microbus, as he is a huge VW enthusiast.
“So, I see you found the bar.” Dick said.
“Yep.” I replied.
“I don’t recognize those glasses.” He said. “Did you bring them from home?”
“Yeah.” I said. Holding up my tiny clutch purse. “I brought them in my bag.” Thinking to myself. “God, that wasn’t funny!”
“Where are you coming from tonight?” Dick said.
“West LA.” I replied.
“Where?” He said.
“West LA.” I repeated.
“That’s not too far.” He said.
“So, do you know everyone?” he said.
“No, actually the only person I think I know is the girl that sits up front.” I said with that damn hint of a question in my voice that I get when I’m nervous. He didn’t say anything. I was hoping he would that that opportunity to introduce me to some people. The people I would be working with in a matter of days.
“So who all is here?” I prompted. Hoping that he would walk me over to a group of people from the agency or something and give me someone to mingle with.
“The agency is here. Radical Media is here. The crew is here.” He said.
“Oh, ok!” I said. Not really sure what to say.
Then he proceeded to tell us to enjoy ourselves and that there was a buffet, a sushi bar, two bars, and lots of places to sit etc.”
“Thanks.” My husband and I said.
Then we parted ways.
“God, I’m glad that’s over with.” I said. “I was dreading having to do that and it happened right away so that’s good.” “I felt like it was just as awkward for him as it was for me,” I said. “Did you get that impression?”
“Definitely.” My husband said. “I think he’s pretty drunk.”
“Really?” I said. I never can sense these things. Someone could throw up in front of me and I’d probably say, “Oh are you sick?” Which is funny because I’m no stranger to being out of control. I just don’t notice it in other people so well.
We stay at the party for an hour or two and then decided to head out. I glimpsed the front desk girl but she didn’t seem to recognize me and at that point I didn’t feel like going over to her and being like
“Hey! I’m the new girl at Secret Weapon. You don’t know me!”
So we just left.

The next afternoon I got an email.

Dear Leah,

There's always that one thing at a party that doesn't go as planned and this morning I realized what that was.

I am soooo sorry that I didn't get an invitation to you properly. And because I failed to put you on the invite list, when you
came to say hi I totally blanked. I thought you said your name was Sara. I feel like an idiot . . . Had I had a little clearer
head, I would have introduced you all-around. I blew it.

When Diane and I got married the one thing that went wrong was the cake was supposed to look like a chocolate basket of
flowers- it looked like a dirty Bird's nest.

See you on Wednesday.


So he didn’t know who I was. I definitely never said anything about my name being Sara. I never said anything about my name at all because I thought it was established that we already knew each other. I’m about to be his new employee for god’s sake. And furthermore, if he wasn’t sure what my name was or who I was I figured he would have asked me and then we could have avoided this whole ridiculous mess. Christ. I’m not the one that has to feel like an idiot on my first day of work though. I did what I should have done. He was the one that A) forgot to invite me to the party ‘properly’ and then B) didn’t know who I was when I spoke to him that night. I sent him back an email saying that it wasn’t a big deal and that I thought it was pretty funny. I mentioned that at my wedding that I forgot to have my best friends picked up at the hotel they were staying at until just the last minute. He emailed back:

Thanks, but I still feel like a jerk.


Good. Now I’m even more nervous for my first day.
At least he realized what he could have come into your first day of work and saw him and then he would have realized who you were and flipped! So, now you two have made your amends over email, which is way easier then in person on your first day.
at least you'll have something to laugh about it eventually, and I'm sure from now on he'll remember you!

ha! i forgot about that wedding snafu. thank goodness for the super friendly guys at the counter!
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