Just before Christmas there were two Christmas parties for work- one for the whole company, so where a couple of hundred people I don't know would have gone to get drunk and try and sleep with one another.
The other party was just for our section of the company, so Nic wouldn't have been allowed to come. There was two hours of free drinks provided.
The first, people didn't mind so much that I didn't go, because hardly anyone from our team went. The second, I'd given an indication that I might go, but only until finished work (so I'd be there from about 4.30 to 6ish, then we'd leave. We were driving home together). I don't really drink. They tend to have 'drinks runs' at work on Friday arvo, where people spend their pay on a 6 pack (or whatever), drink it at work, then go home. I don't think I've ever bought drinks in a drinks run. I don't go out, and I never really have. So I'm getting pressure from co-workers to go to this party, get smashed, go crazy. I go, I'll say, but not for long. To which they give me a look. Like I'm being deprived.
When I said I didn't think I'd go to one girl, she looks astonished and says: "Just come out and be SOCIAL!"
And I think about the coffee I'd had with a friend the evening before and wonder how or why that is any less social than going out, getting so intoxicated that you don't make any sense, make a fool of yourself, fall asleep in a pile of drool, and wake up not remembering a thing. Because let's face it, that's what they're taking about. It's not a sophisticated wine at a clean bar somewhere- it's a divey pub with sticky floors.
Maybe I should have gone and said hello, but then as soon as I said I was leaving, I would have gotten the same treatment.
In the end, I was watching people getting ready- a flurry of activity as girls madly straightened their hair in the bathroom, boys smoked outside and cracked open their third can of JD and coke (at 4.30pm, mind you)... and then girls started applying concealer to mosquito bites on their legs. These girls are married and engaged. And they're worried about a couple of red spots on their legs. For a party in a room with minimal lighting where nobody could care less. This was the point I decided 'enough is enough', and very quietly made my exit.
Because here's the thing. By leaving early, my life could continue like this:
Nic drives me home, we have a chat about our day, some nice time with just the two of us (not having to shout over music or getting drinks spilled on us), as we ponder over dinner and miss our furkids.
We get home, greeted happily by Mallei who has been inside all day and is just mega-stoked to see us, but really needs to pee. The kitten hasn't figured out how the front door yet, so gets stuck behind it again, and we have a laugh. We bustle inside and head out almost immediately to take Mal for a walk in the last of the sunshine for the day. This is another nice time for just the two of us to talk and relax and unwind. We head home. Nic starts on dinner while I feed the animals, then spend some time playing with Reya and Mal. We eat, relax, watch an episode of one of our tv shows, then head to bed at about 10 or 10.30 where we cuddle up and talk about nothing for another half an hour as the kitten races around and plays in the bath, skidding around corners and 'glomping' up and down the hall. Mal sighs from his bed, like he's too old for this crap, but is secretly fascinated by Reya's antics. And then we go to sleep. If it's a friday night, we have a sleep in till about 8, and then have the whole day to get out and about, to run or cycle or paddle, to cook or garden or go shopping, or whatever we want...
I think the alternative- of succumbing to pressure and 'getting smashed' at the party- would have been much less enjoyable. I'm just sick of that being the norm, and for me being weird or unsociable for not wanting to go down that route. Were it not for work, I wouldn't speak to or socialize with any of those people, so why is making a fool of myself in front of them apparently a prerequisite for a harmonious work environment? I know, I could go out and only have a drink or two, but then there's still the 'party-pooper' mentality if I try and leave before I'm completely off my face.
Grow up, people. There's more to life than that.
(and I'm not just saying that because I'm a soon-to-be-grumpy-old-wife ;) )