Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fashionable Lateness

Party - 084Embarrassingly, but not surprisingly considering how rarely I post, most of my blog visitors are searching for something random I happened to post about. Since I posted about Catholic funeral etiquette, I've been getting visitors who want to know about that subject. I'm glad to help, but I doubt any of those people have stuck around for the profanity-laced jocularity.

Awesomely, two people came here in the past month by searching "do frenchwomen do crafts". They do have yarn stores in France, so I'm guessing yes. (I may have never mentioned this, but when I was in Paris for my honeymoon 4 years ago, I bought a Phildar knitting pattern booklet for some adorable children's knits. None of which I've made yet, but maybe someday.)

Also, as long as I'm digressing, what is up with all the adverbs today? Probably a side effect of trying to avoid them in my novel.

Anyhoodle, I also get some people trying to find out if it's OK to be fashionably late to a party, or how fashionably late they should be, or some variation of that. Since I've thrown a few parties in my day, opinions? I has them.

First, let me say that when you should arrive at a party varies by culture and even by your group of friends (and possibly their age). Marian Keyes wrote in one of her books that in England, you show up exactly on time, while in Ireland, it's tremendously rude to show up less than an hour late.

In my 20s (in the boondocks of Brooklyn), I threw a Halloween party and the first guests arrived an hour after I said the party started. It was an old friend and she made a joke about how I could stop worrying that no one was coming. Which I had totally been doing. Even though it wasn't the first Halloween party I'd thrown for that group of friends.

A couple of years before that, I was invited to a party a college friend's place in a more fashionable section of Brooklyn. I showed up at 8 like the invite said. The host told me that he said 8 because that way everyone would show up at 9. He then ignored me for an hour while he talked long distance to a friend. He was always ducking out of things to call friends in crisis, so it wasn't out of character, but still. Dude.

Now when I throw parties, people tend to show up early. Partially, this is because I live somewhere easily accessible by public transportation and you can never be sure how long it's going to take to get anywhere. Another part is that we're in our 30s now, and don't end our evenings in the wee hours of the morning, so we all start our evenings earlier. I think part of it might be because I've met several of my current friends through DWNY (a Doctor Who fan group--HA is a founding member--how's that for geek cred?) and we used to host video meet ups and people didn't want to be late and miss any of the show.

Of course, this meant that some people would show up an hour early while we were still cleaning, and then corner us into a conversation that kept us from cleaning. One time, a planned subway diversion didn't happen, so everyone was early. The first person to apologize for being early was the third person to arrive.

So when you find yourself wondering "should I be fashionably late to this party?", ask yourself how well you know the hosts. Would they be comfortable chatting with you while they're still chopping the crudités? Then arrive on time, and if you find yourself arriving a little early, they come on in and help them set up.

If you don't know them that well and you're early, go for a walk, go for a cocoa, anything to keep from turning up before they're ready for you. If you don't relish the thought of having a few minutes to chat with the hosts before everyone arrives, show up 15-30 minutes after the starting time.

That's for regular parties. For sit down dinner parties where everyone is going to eat at the same time, 15 minutes late should be the max. Do not get between people and their dinner if you can avoid it. This is the one occasion when the start time really means something.

The whole concept of being fashionably late in theory feels like you want to make an entrance, when in practice, people want to be fashionably late because they're afraid to be the first guests to arrive, which gets in the way of standing around with a drink in your hand, not talking to anyone because you're too shy to mingle. So suck it up, and be considerate of your host when planning when to arrive at a party.

Speaking of mingling, I was once disgusted by co-workers who went into a work cocktail hour with no intention of mingling with anyone, when their mission should've been working the room to convince everyone that we deserved the contract we'd won, and that they should like us. (Most of the guests were clients.) So I read a book on mingling so I'd never be like that. The one tip from the book that I still use is to have a few conversation openers planned. That way, you can fall back on those sentences when the whole talking to human beings thing gets scary. For example, if you're at a birthday party, you can start all conversations with "How to do you know the birthday girl?" At DWNY meet ups, I often ask people who their favorite Doctor is and the conversation flows quite nicely from that.

What do you guys think about it?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How To Write a Novel

Silver Spoon
Step 1: Goof off online for a bit. This is to distract you from how much your writing sucks, so that you are able to pick up a pen.

Step 2: Clear desk in preparation for typing in the handwritten stuff from the last writing session. (I can type faster than I can think, but handwrite & think at the same pace, so I write my fiction by hand.)

Step 3: While moving breakfast dishes from desk, drop spoon on the floor.

Step 4: Listen to spoon slide under desk.

Step 5: Feel under desk with foot for spoon. Fail.

Step 6. Decide to leave spoon there until it's time to move the desk.

Step 7: Realize that the soon is from this morning's cottage cheese and said acquaintance with dairy will give rise to a mighty stank if left in place.

Step 8: Reach under desk with the business end of a swifter broom.

Step 9: Retrieve an Advil liquigel, emery board, one cheerio and an unhealthy amount of dust. (When you're done judging me, go check under your desk. I'll wait. Yeah, that's what I thought.)

Step 10: Realize that the swiffer has pushed the spoon against the wall behind the desk.

Step 11: Make 5-10 failed attempts to retrieve the spoon with the business end of the swiffer, while composing a blog post about the escapade in your head.

Step 12: Retrieve the spoon with the handle end of the swiffer.

Step 13: Feel unjustifiably clever while tossing spoon into the kitchen sink.

Step 14: Write blog post, calling it "a writing warm up".

Step 15. Fix all the autocorrects of "swiffer".

Step 16: Post blog post and make a nice cup of tea.

Step 17: Type up that stuff from the other day. No, really.