It all starts with the crusted ravioli. Is there cheese inside or meat? Since this is a fancy party, maybe it’s something I haven’t imagined yet. Perhaps a jelly of some type infused with gold leaf foil. That would be fancy as fuck and this is a fancy fucking place.
I take a bite. Fried goodness crunches in my mouth. I contemplate the ravioli instead of paying attention to the conversation my wife is having.
This is a party for my wife’s boss and his new bride, a celebration of the nuptials. They are mingling while we hang with another couple on the couch. They seem very nice. The couch couple tells pretty good jokes and has no obvious evil intentions. I have to be on the lookout to survive any of my wife’s work social functions or parties. As an at-home dad, I have been out of the office politics game for a pretty long time. The only ulterior motives I usually run into involve scamming another cupcake or juice box.
On a side note, there are cupcakes here. I’ll get to them in a bit.
Advantages of being the ‘plus one’
Around us are the work people and various family members of the newlyweds. Everyone seems nice. I just have absolutely no connection to any of them. I am the “plus 1” — the rando guy who shows up just to judge you on the quality of your food and if there is free alcohol. I give this party a “plus 10.” There is free whiskey, pizza, and these ravioli things.
I go to these parties every year with my wife. During that time, I have become a master at blending in and small talk. I find it easy. There is no pressure here on me at all. My wife has to say all the right things, talk to the right people and basically not make a fool of herself. But me, I’m different. I have no one to impress. No one even knows who I am and my wife can safely distance herself from me at any moment.
I’m two glasses of whiskey in as I study the ravioli. It’s definitely got cheese in there.
Always be busy
My wife usually does a terrible job with me at these things. I don’t mean she embarrasses herself. I mean she forgets to introduce me. At the beginning of this party, she left me hanging, talking to some guy about hair dryers and steak. I love steak so it was all good. Hair dryers, not so much. My wife is in advertising so you would be surprised at the conversations that get linked together. Such as the meat hair dyers –both clients her company represents.
I have learned it is better to roam around and just introduce myself, networking for no other reason than practice. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Once you learn there are no real consequences for what you say, because these people will never see you again, I can crack jokes left and right all night. No accountability — that is how you survive a work party that’s not your own.
My wife is talking to the husband of a work friend about advertising. They are deep into shop talk since he also works in advertising. I nod at the appropriate places, maybe tell a joke somewhere, then get back to my happy place — the crusted ravioli. Now I think there is some meat in there. I should see if anyone has a hair dryer handy so I can use it to figure this ravioli out.
That’s the next thing I learned about how to survive my wife’s work parties: always appear busy. No one wants to be the odd duck sitting next to the wall appearing to do nothing, looking longingly at people having fun. So I usually find something to keep myself busy — like a mysterious fried ravioli. So many questions, so many things to discover.
Size up the so-called competition
I met my wife’s boss at the beginning. Seems like a nice guy. Tall as a pine tree in rural Arkansas. A friendly smile, a manly handshake, and easily sized up. This is my next trick in how to survive work parties that are not yours — determining who I could take in a fight. I’m not a violent person, not at all. I just like the mental exercise of it. It keeps me busy while everyone else discusses whatever advertising deck they are preparing. Her boss is a tall guy so he probably has a pretty good reach. So I would have to close that distance and get to his legs. Once he is subdued, I can get to the ravioli. Advertising people don’t look very tough, so throughout the years, I’ve decided that I could take most of them. Maybe not the meat hair dryer guy though. He looks serious.
I’ve eaten about eight of the ravioli things so far. My stomach feels full but I’m going to keep eating. I imagined a whole fake fight just to get to this point, so I better keep eating. Definitely meat and cheese in here.
My wife and her friends have started to discuss which companies are on the downswing. They are bringing up names of people I don’t know, doing jobs I had no idea existed. I wonder how much they bullshit each other at these things? Probably a lot. It’s sad that they don’t get a chance to truly taste the delicious ravioli.
Go out with a bang
Then I spy the cupcakes in the corner.
They are fancy too. Not normal cupcakes bought from the grocery store. These have been catered. They have only a wisp of frosting on the top. I think I see a red velvet one in there. I call dibs. I eat four of them before my wife announces it is time to go. I say goodbye to my ravioli and the experience that we shared.
This is my last lesson on how to survive the spouse’s work parties. When it’s time to go, go out with a bang. Shake the hands, smile, and leave a lasting impression.
We say goodbye to our couple of friends. My wife says something in advertising or Klingon, I’m not sure which, and we head to the door. The bride is there! I haven’t met the bride yet. As usual, my wife doesn’t introduce us. So yeah, do my thing.
“Hi! Great party! Really lovely time. Congratulations.”
“Thank you!” she says. She really does look wonderful. Pure happiness on her face. But she also looks a bit confused. Who the hell is this guy with ravioli crumbs in his beard? “I don’t think we’ve had a chance to meet yet.”
“Nope. I’m a plus one. We should hang out next time. I’m very fun.”
As I leave, I hear one of the other guests start laughing asking, “Who was that?”
I’m basically a +1 ninja.