Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Reason I Don't Drink (at Xmas Parties)...

So, the year end insanity has got me working 12 hour days with barely enough time to come home and neglect my wife and son. In the meantime, here's some vintage Goodness from the intro of my December 16, 2005 column...

Every year, about three weeks before Christmas, one of my wife's co-workers throws the biggest holiday party in San Diego County.

The hostess and her husband begin the festivities around 4:00 PM and the event often extends into the wee hours of the next morning. In fact, it's not unusual for close to 100 people to make their way through for some holiday cheer, in the form of free food and the shape of free booze.

Over the last several years, Mrs. Bootleg and I have been invited and every year our separate routines repeat themselves. And, for any of you who've ever been to one of your significant other's work functions, I think you know the routine for which I speak.

The annual holiday gala guest list is made almost entirely of employees from my wife's company. Admittedly, that's not exactly a surprise…until you realize that me and the wife are pretty much the only husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend (or "other", um, colorful California coupling) that don't work together at this unnamed place.

Imagine, if you will, having to spend 8-10 hours day just a cubicle's length from your mate, then carpooling home to spend the rest of your waking hours each day with the same person. You don't even get weekends off. Hell, have you heard the rumor that Tookie Williams was offered a choice of commuting his death sentence to a life sentence similar to the above example?

Tookie chose wisely.

Anyways, all of this is my usually elongated way of saying those eight-plus hours of the wife and her co-workers talking shop isn't exactly a "party", so much as it's a 500-minute lunch hour. The only difference is that their cafeteria's stainless steel prison trays have been replaced with Christmas-themed Dixie plates.

We arrived around 7:00 PM and the wife immediately abandoned me to work the room. I fixed myself a lonely bachelor's plate of seasonal, yet festive finger foods such as rolled tacos and Lil' Smokies and assumed the traditional party position of the husband who doesn't fit in. That meant standing next to the wife and pretending that some of my snacks were meant for my better half.

This real-time audio employee newsletter lasted for most of the early evening, before I finally discovered the bar from afar.

While the wife and her friends reminisced (again) about all of their on-the-job anecdotes from the past day or two, I sat down in front of a majestic collection of adult beverages. I began with cheap beer before discovering my life partner behind the other bottles. In the course of four hours, I almost ingested an entire bottle of Jack's Sour Mash, along with my first-ever college cup of Cristal to complete the .23 BAC evening.

That's pretty much all I remember, as there were large parts of the party and post-party that I still can't recollect…like the long ride home. Mrs. Bootleg says I slept the whole way, before waking up to give Kid Cameron's babysitter a long, fermented hug while reeking of grain alcohol and gratitude.

The next 24 hours were spent amidst the continuous nausea of "can't quite purge purgatory", where I carried all of the symptoms of your classic hangover, but with none of the Goodness of regurgitation. Is it possible to not throw up and still feel like sh*t?