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Every party needs a pooper Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, Dec 18 2010 12:00 PM

Every party needs a pooper, right?

I don't like parties. I don't like them in the same way I don't like pickles. Sure, they're fine for some people but not me. That's why the holidays are always such a perilous time of year. And given that nowadays the holidays begin around Halloween, by the time New Year's Eve rolls around, I'm exhausted from avoiding all the revelry.

It's not that I'm opposed to having a good time. I'm just opposed to having a good time en masse. And it's especially difficult having a good time with a group of people with whom I have nothing in common except for the fact that, at the moment, we're all trapped in the same room because of a social contract that says we should communally celebrate an arbitrary day on the calendar.

I wasn't always this way. In university, as might be expected, I attended as many parties as possible. But the objective then - to drink heavily and/or have sex - is different than it is today. Today people want to get together and ... I don't know what they want to do, frankly. Have a good time? But how does one have a good time when parties are such an exercise in excruciating awkwardness?

Me: Hi, how are you?

Them: Fine. You?

Me: Good. Having a good time?

Them: Yes. You?

Me: Yep ... yep. Yessir.

I realize there are few dozen different directions in which the conversation can go - work, family, sports, the weather. But chances are if it's a non-work party, neither one of us will have much interest in the other's occupation ("Ohhh, you're a project manager for a mortgage broker. Woooow." "You're a reporter? Oh. Don't quote me. HA! HA! HA!" or, if it's a work party, talking shop is the last thing you want to do because, after all, who wants to talk about work at a party?

I'm not mulling a return to my college party lifestyle. I don't have the energy or the constitution required to maintain that sort of abuse. And really, as I've gotten older, that sort of debauchery has become just as mind numbing as the chit chat that's found at today's parties.

And that's really what kills parties for me: small talk. All too often the conversations are forced or painfully sedate.

Over the years I've done my share of nodding at stories about people's genius children and their grade school accomplishments. I've listened ad nausuem to stories of foreclosure and debt and layoffs and broken up marriages. I've soaked in the finer points of ocean fishing for tuna in Baja. And I've dutifully pretended to be impressed with others' tales of their European vacation. Enough. No more. Please.

Now that I think about it, maybe the biggest reason I don't like parties anymore is because I realize I'm just not as interesting as people think they are.

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