My wife and I attended her company's holiday party last week. Even though Hank has worked at this company for nearly a decade, I had never attended one of her corporate functions before, so I was going to be meeting the vast majority of her coworkers for the first time.
Going to your spouse's company holiday party for the first time is really about two things:
1) Choosing the right shirt. My algorithm optimized for color, formality, lack of stains, and unwaddedupness.
2) Finding out who is trying to sleep with your wife.
I did ok on #1, but #2 was a bit more challenging. Frankly, if there's one thing worse than my ability to put together a fashion ensemble, it's my ability to read people. I eventually decided that the best approach was the one that's often recommended in poker, and that's to assume that whatever persona someone is presenting, the truth is the opposite. If someone looks confident, they probably have a crappy poker hand. If, on the other hand, they look nervous and outmatched, they're probably banging my wife.
So, when we approached a good looking and well-coiffed dude and Hank exclaimed "Hi honey!" and gave him a big hug, I felt relieved. We met a few other guys and no one was nonchalant or sweaty enough to set off any of my alarms. Well, one guy seemed a bit out of sorts, but when he literally sprinted out the door to chase after another woman, I figured he was busy on other fronts.
The only time I was concerned was when Hank urged me to meet her coworker, Griffin. He was settled in at the bar and gave me the once-over when we were introduced. We chatted very briefly, but I was unsure why I had to meet the guy. It only became clear afterwards.
"Oh, that guy Griffin," Hank explained, "He's gay, and you are JUST his type. Mmmmm hmmmm."
So, hell, maybe our marriage made it through another faithful year. Stranger things have happened. In fact, a stranger thing happened the next day when Hank got home from work. She said that multiple people had work had told her how much they enjoyed meeting me and that I was the most charming spouse there.
Wha? Apparently paranoia becomes me.
Hell, it got even stranger on Saturday night when I went to my athletic club's holiday party without my wife and soon realized that none of my usual club buddies were there. I roamed the party alone for a while, trying to pretend as though I had important messages to reply to on my iPhone, when I eventually realized there was another woman there who looked as tragically alone as I was.
I introduced myself, desperately explained that none of my friends had arrived, and asked if she would be my best friend for the remainder of the party. She looked at me like a drowning person looks at a life-preserver, and nodded solemnly in agreement.
We chatted amiably for about 15 minutes when she grabbed my wrist, looked at my wedding band, and accused, "You are way too charming to be here without your wife!" I assured her that was not the case, but her words had made an impression.
Apparently, when fueled by either paranoia or desperation, I am charming!