So I have this coworker I car pool with. Aside from the fact that we both live about a block away from each other, work at the same place, are gay, and have done theatre, we really don't have much in common. I'm glad we can both save on gas, and he's not a bad guy; we just don't really gel, in my opinion.
If you think all gay people are alike, think again. This guy is a raging conservative, so far to the right I can hardly comprehend it. The likes of Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Rush Limbaugh seem to be his gods; he abhors big government; and he can't stand Barack Obama (and regularly posts about it on Facebook).
He talks a mile a minute, never allowing anyone to get a word in edgewise, and he's a bit of a blowhard and a know-it-all. He also seems to be a control freak. I actually find our car rides exhausting and am thankful they only last twenty-five minutes or so.
While he would never view himself as such, I find him to be a bit self-centered. Truthfully, he's not an unlikeable person; our personalities just don't mesh very well.
Anyway, his partner (who I had never met until yesterday) invited me to what was supposed to be a surprise birthday party, but of course, my coworker, as he is wont to do, knew all about it by the time the party was held.
When I was asked to attend, I really didn't want to go. As I've said numerous times in my blog, I am not very social, and my coworker's energy by himself is already too much for me, so the thought of adding that to a bunch of other people's energies did not thrill me.
However, I did want to me the partner and I also felt I ought to be supportive of my coworker on his birthday.
Soon after I was invited, my coworker (let's call him Chuck) and I were driving to work one day, and Chuck began spouting off about how he knew his partner was planning something and that he hated surprises and being the center of attention (ha!) and how his partner always made a fuss on his birthday and that he wasn't looking forward to it, etc., etc. It kind of made him sound a bit ungrateful for all the planning his partner was doing, if you ask me.
Boy, that really made me want to come...NOT!
Anyway, yesterday was the party. It was held at a local Chinese place. Instead of lounging on my couch watching the mid-season premiere of "Breaking Bad," which is what I would have rather been doing, I got dressed up and drove into town for the party. On the way I picked up a card that said, "You can never have enough attention on your birthday" and wrote a little note.
I was glad I left early because traffic was terrible. The people in this city drive like imbeciles. I barely made it just in time, but I was already not in the best mood.
Chuck's partner, Hank, was very personable, but also very excited and high-strung. He was almost like a giddy little kid who wanted everything to go perfectly, but by his very energy practically ensured it wouldn't. He was very eager to please, and I kind of understood maybe why Chuck didn't like him to plan these things.
Hank was expecting 20, but only 12 ended up being there, not one of whom I seemed to have much in common with. Two of my other coworkers were there - a guy who I think is kind of abrasive and a bit of a jerk and a woman who is nice enough, but with whom I don't have much in common. I think everybody at the table except for Chuck's dad and me were very loud and energetic. It was just a bit too much for this introvert.
When Hank asked if Chuck was surprised, Chuck said, "No, I knew exactly what was happening," and Hank asked, "How did you know?" Chuck said, "Well, it was obvious, and because Dad had to ask me for directions, I knew exactly where we were going."
Somehow I had the misfortune of being sat right across from Chuck's brother-in-law, who made Chuck look like a Liberal. The two of us could not have been more opposite if we tried. He was an Iraq veteran, a bit racist, gun-loving, red-necked, big, burly, and gruff. His tee-shirt said, "Infidel and proud of it." He was loud and obnoxious and seemed put out by the fact that we were having this party in a Chinese restaurant instead of some "meat-and-potatoes" diner or truck stop. He picked the tofu out of the hot and sour soup, loudly complaining that it wasn't fit for human consumption and insinuating that it was sissy food. Meanwhile, the dish I had just ordered was the Coconut Curry Vegetables with tofu.
When Hank complained that the soup was too spicy, Chuck's brother-in-law berated him, saying it wasn't spicy at all and then proceeded to tell me a story about how he and a friend had ordered hot wings at a cafe, and when the waiter brought them to him, he complained that they weren't spicy enough. They brought him another batch, and he ridiculed them for their efforts. The cook said he poured a whole bottle of Tabasco sauce on them, and Chuck's brother-in-law said Tabasco sauce wasn't hot. In any case, the owner let him and his friend have the wings for free. Chuck's brother-in-law seemed pretty proud of that. Meanwhile, I'm the guy who if there's even a sniff of pepper in my food, it's too spicy.
Then Chuck's brother-in-law and the guy from work I don't like started getting into global warming and what a "load of horseshit" it is, and I'm just biting my tongue. Chuck's brother-in-law and my other coworker's husband then started talking about truck driving and how cops are of the devil, and I just thought, "I have absolutely no common ground with these people."
Meanwhile, Chuck is complaining about all the fuss surrounding his birthday and pleading with Hank not to go overboard because they can't afford it. At the same time, Hank is all manic and excited about the festivities. I think Chuck and Hank argued the whole time - sometimes good-naturedly, sometimes not.
Everyone was so loud and boisterous, and I was just getting a headache. And as a former waiter myself, I felt sorry for the staff because I thought we were an incredibly obnoxious and difficult group to deal with.
The service was very slow. I do not fault the staff for that. They were incredibly busy and we were a somewhat large and disorganized group. I thought the dinner would never end.
Then Hank says we'll wait a half hour to digest before bringing the cake out; Chuck is telling Hank we ought to wrap this up so the servers can take care of other guests; and I'm thinking, "Oh, please, let this end!"
Mercifully, we only waited about 10 minutes.
Then the cake comes out, and Hank's trying to figure out how to get it out of the box and Chuck is trying to help him, and they get into an argument about it. Hank is taking pictures left and right, and it's clear Chuck doesn't want his picture taken. Hank yells, "Open your cards! Open your cards!" Chuck starts to, and then Hank yells, "Read them out loud! Read them out loud!"
"I'm not going to read them out loud, Hank! I'll just pass them around."
"No, read them out loud!"
"No one will be able to hear me, Hank! I'll just pass them around, and everyone can read them themselves."
Did I mention that the coworker I dislike bought two drinks for Hank, neither of which he seemed to like, but which he drank even though he doesn't drink? Those seemed to make Hank even more manic and loud.
"Who's that from, Chuck? Tell us who it's from!"
"It's from 'so-and-so,' Hank," grumbles Chuck, under his breath.
I notice that everyone has brought Chuck a gift. Not just cards, but actual gifts. I was told gifts were not expected, but now I feel a little small because everyone has brought a gift but me.
After Chuck says who each gift is from, Hank feel the need to slap that person on the back and yell, "Good job! Good job!"
"Who's that from, Chuck?!" yells Hank.
"It's from my dad."
"Are you sure?"
"It says, 'Love, Dad,'" says Chuck, blankly. "I can't imagine who else it would be from."
"Good job, Dad," cries Hank, slapping Chuck's dad on the shoulder.
After opening his gifts, there are two large bags and two large boxes left.
"Who are those from, Chuck?"
"You, Hank," says Chuck dryly. "They're all from you." You can see Chuck is displeased that Hank spent so much on him.
Chuck opens each present, Hank takes a picture of him with each one and yells out the name of each gift. "Oh, look, shorts!" "Oh, look, a shirt!" "Oh, look, running shoes!" "Oh, look, boots!"
The saving grace in all this is that we are able to split our bills individually so there's none of that haggling over who owes what and does anybody have any change. But getting our bills and paying them takes another 10 minutes, and what was supposed to be a two-hour party has now stretched out to nearly three.
Finally, I'm able to leave. I admit I probably went in with a bad attitude to begin with, but it was un unbearable party. It just wasn't my cup of tea. Jonah laughed as I told him how un-fun it had been.
Chuck and Hank would like to have us over some time. I'm hoping it doesn't happen. They're nice enough people, but they're both a little much for me. I'm glad that we have three cats because both Hank and Chuck are allergic. Jonah jokingly said we should both wear cat fur coats if we're ever invited.
Please don't think I am saying that Chuck and Hank aren't nice or interesting people; I just don't seem to have great chemistry with them, that's all. I think it will have to be a while before I do something social with them. Still, I would like Jonah to meet them just to get his take on them because, who knows, maybe I'm just overreacting?
In any case, never was I more happy to finally be at home watching "Breaking Bad."
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