It’s officially party season. From late October through the tail end of December, karaoke parties, dinners, family gatherings, office parties all seem to pile up in the rush of the holidays. All of this potential socializing got me thinking about the most challenging types of people I’ve encountered at parties (on a regular basis, sadly). Think of this as as my personal PSA, because you don’t want to be that guy/gal.
The Close-Talker: You surely know some of them (or maybe you are one). Here's the thing — unless you're gonna kiss me, please don't stand so close. Don't breathe on me, Don't put your lips three inches from mine to make small talk. I don't need to smell what you had for dinner. I don't need to sense the temperature of your mouth. You don't need to sniff my Trident Splash Peppermint Swirl gum either. (Best gum ever, by the way — Dear Trident, if you would like to sponsor me, I am available.)
If you are some place loud, then lean in and talk in my ear. Don't do it to my face. If we are at a party, kindly refrain from smothering me and holding me hostage by backing me into a wall. (That is the worst — when a close-talker gets you in a position where you can scarcely turn your head, let alone step back.) If I happen to step back, don't step forward again, stepping on my toes. Please, I implore you. I think you are all smart enough to get the general idea. Let's give each other a little distance, shall we?
The Clinger: Look, I get it. You have a little social anxiety and I’m a good listener. I can make conversation with just about everyone. That doesn’t mean I want to spend my entire night attached to your hip. Please, it’s a party. Mingle. Let me breathe! I promise that as soon as you start circulating, you will get the hang of it. You might even attract your own clinger! Here’s a strategy that works: If you know people at the party, split your time and make that conscious effort to move your conversation on. If you only know one or two people, introduce yourself, ask how they know the host, etc. I know this sounds rudimentary, but social anxiety can turn a person in to a clinger.
The Zealous Pundit: I’m happy that you take an interest in politics/world affairs/the environment, but no one wants to hear you shout your convictions over eggnog. Religion and politics as topics of discussion? Tread lightly. It’s wonderful to exchange meaningful dialogue about the issues that affect us, but maybe put away the gloves. I’ve found that I have a much better time if I don’t get into it with that pro-lifer or the guy who says (non-ironically), “I think Trump would make an awesome president!” So, if someone tries to go there, gently steer the convo elsewhere. You, me, and everyone you know will be thankful. There’s a time and place for debate, and that time and place is not at your boyfriend’s best friend’s Kwanzaa party.
The Sloppy Drunk: ’Tis the season to eat, drink, and be merry. 'Tis not the season to be inebriated and scary. Yes, enjoy yourself: Have a drink or two, maybe even three (just don’t drive!). But, please, for the love of tinsel, balsam pine, and latkes, don’t be the one who’s spilling drinks, slurring too loudly, and headed for the worst hangover ever. The holidays can often be a time of over-indulgence. A good strategy is to sip not slurp (duh), drink a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages, and eat something. Pace yourself, and if you are the type that can’t do that, ask someone else to remind you (and also perhaps look into why you drink so much). You will be doing yourself and all of your fellow partygoers a huge favor!
The bottom line is this: Have fun, enjoy, be merry...just don’t ruin the good times for everyone else. And for those wishing to avoid such holiday party mishaps, it’s OK to skip a few. I promise.