“For just one night let’s not be co-workers. Let's be co-people.” Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
|© 2013 Chris Terrell|
Don't have too many of these at the holiday office party!
The Godfather (Part I or II)
“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”
These are the office parties where your boss expects you to attend. In fact, it is probably required. When you get the invitation, you can hear your boss, sitting in the cold recesses of his top floor corner office, speaking coldly to his secretary: “I'll make him an offer he can't refuse.” These are typically invite-only parties, reserved for “upper management.” This fact creates envy amongst your co-workers who were not invited, thereby adding to the stress of the evening. If they only knew that you would prefer to trade in your invite on some kind of invite exchange and stay home with a six-pack of PBR, a pizza, and the latest episode of Game of Thrones.
Mr. Braddock: Ben, this whole idea sounds pretty half-baked.
Benjamin: Oh, it's not. It's completely baked.
This is the kind of party in which a boozy Mrs. Robinson wanna-be is in attendance. She spends the whole night trying to drag you into the back corner, whilst telling you how bored she is. This particular party guest, however, is in excellent shape for her age (expensive Pilates classes) and shows up one step ahead of the competition in terms of how many drinks she’s had. Her dress is expensive and low-cut and she always stands too close, with one hand glued to the small of your back. Now don’t get me wrong, I thought Anne Bancroft was hot as hell in that movie and Benjamin Braddock was a fool at first, but it is a lot different when your office party’s version of Mrs. Robinson is the wife of an executive VP who wants you to marry their daughter. Of course, you spend the whole time worrying that you don’t drink too much and do something stupid. To borrow a line from the movie above: “women are more dangerous than shotguns.”
Another use for this movie reference would be the party with the really bad food; food that tastes like…shall we say….plastic? Oh come on, you remember:
Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
“My momma always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.’”
Remember Bubba Blue from Forrest Gump? He was the guy who talked about 2,465 different ways to prepare shrimp: “You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it.” Well, this is the party where there’s always that one guest you try to avoid—maybe it’s Bob from accounting or Janice from the mail room—who thinks you are their best friend (or at least the only person too polite not to run away) and who proceeds to talk your ear off, as you try to figure out how to talk to that cute new girl in HR. They will tell you every boring detail of their otherwise dull life, as you try and pull away, reflexively drinking from a beer that you finished about twenty minutes ago.
“Why do they insist on announcing dinner like a damned cavalry charge?”
This is the office party where we know how it's going to end, and we know that it is going to end badly. Like Mr. Fleet in the crow’s nest who first sees the iceberg dead ahead, the sense of inevitable doom is palpable. These office parties are more typical for smaller companies where everyone knows each other; the hierarchy is rather flat; and the workforce is young. Think dot com start-up or even a restaurant. I’ve been to these parties. Eventually, someone gets way too drunk. Someone gets way too belligerent. And someone gets way too frisky. And like The Hangover, Parts 1-16, no one ever remembers a damn thing in the morning. As a result, no one gets fired!
Midnight in Paris
“[B]ut I will say that we both like Indian food, not all Indian food, but the pita bread, we both like pita bread, I guess it’s called naan.”
This is the office party you haven’t been to in a long time, or one in which old friends or a girlfriend plans to attend, or even an party at the company or firm where you worked for many years. As a result, you have very unrealistic, if not downright romantic, notions about what to expect at such a party. As Gil discovers, the idealized past wilts in the blazing noonday sun of the present. But like the dialogue in Midnight in Paris, the conversation amongst old friends is relaxed and nostalgic and, like an old sweater, it feels comfortable even if a bit tight around the middle.
Well, there you have it—the unofficial five categories of office parties explained through the movies. Think of this as a public service announcement, for if just one of my 14 readers can better survive a holiday office party, then my life is certainly complete.