A friend of mine asked me why I hadn’t written about the Salahis, America’s newest fun couple, and I replied that just like Michaele Salahi’s midriff, the topic had been overexposed. And besides, as someone pathologically allergic to parties of any kind, the thought that anyone anywhere anytime would voluntarily seek entry to a gathering to which they weren’t even invited confounds me. It’s bad enough to make a forced appearance as a matter of friendship or familial duty.
Of course, I chalk my anathema up to being single, and to having read one too many of the discrete “no singles need apply” sign most couples have posted near their doorbells. Try walking alone into a holiday open house in any suburban neighborhood. If you are smart you will head straight for the bar; if you were really smart, you would have declined the invitation in the first place. Drink in hand—better make it a double—what will you find should you attempt to mingle? Most men and women will self-segregate, and even in an academic town such as mine the men will likely be talking sports. Moving on. The women will be talking about their husbands or children or both. OKaaay. The few mixed-sex clusters will likely have husbands and wives in fused dyads…best not to intrude and upset their equilibrium. As a last resort, you look to the kids for companionship and if they are well mannered it is here you may strike conversational gold for a moment or two. By this time you’d best head back to the bar for a refill.
Single women everywhere know the strategies for surviving parties: help pass hors d’oeurves, volunteer to sit with senile Aunt Josephine, enlist as a litter patrolman and police for discarded napkins, glasses and plates. In other words, they assume the role intended for them by the hosts: unpaid laborer. “Working the room” has a very literal meaning for single party-goers. So why do we subject ourselves to such abuse? To placate the inner child for whom the words “Christmas party” signify ineffable excitement and possibility even though experience has taught the grown-up otherwise. To dress up in outlandish sweaters and jewelry that by their decorative themes have limited runs on the calendar. To scope out ideas for our own repertoire of Christmas recipes. Whatever our reasons, year after year, many of us continue to be authors of our own agony and show up like the good sports we are.
But what of the Salahis? Do they, like me, have a terrible time of parties to which they are invited? Did they, unlike me, think that in their desperation they’d have a better chance at enjoying themselves at one where they were not wanted? Could be. In that case, may the holiday season bless each of them with more invitations than they can accept. I couldn’t imagine a more fitting punishment for their crime.