The Christmas parties have begun, and it’s interesting to watch the behavio
ural differences between Britons and Americans when they start to let their hair down. To be fair, it’s really only the Brits that let their hair down. New Yorkers have their metaphorical hair in a short bob, and I shudder to think about the consequences if even one hair from their fringebangs gets out of place.
I was lucky enough to be invited to a friend’s work Christmas party last night. I say ‘Christmas’, but I have to call it a ‘holiday party’ here for fear of being deemed politically incorrect otherwise. Coincidentally, even when I use the word ‘holiday’, I get it wrong. Who knew that a simple question such as ‘where are you going on holiday this year?’ could lead to such strange looks. Apparently I should be calling it a vacation, even though the only thing being vacated is my will to live when it’s pointed out that I’ve used the American language wrongly yet again.
The party was due to start at 7pm, which in Britain would mean the majority of people turning up around 9pm for fear of looking as if they had nothing else to do that evening. Yet incredibly, by 6.45pm (yes, fifteen minutes before the party was even due to begin) there was a lengthy queue at the
cloakroomcoatcheck. And there was me thinking that it was Brits who would go to great lengths whenever there was free booze on offer.
By 7.30pm, the place was heaving, with organi
szers worrying that the venue wouldn’t let any more guests in. In Britain, there would have been one person from IT, and about seven people from finance, all dancing with a style and complexity that would have suggested that their dance mentor was Debbie Gibson.
Yet by 11pm, the American party was over, and people obediently
queuedlined up to pick up their coat and head off into the night. Sure, there were a couple of drunken souls, but even they were able to put themselves in a taxi to head home. Put simply, there’s more gossip at a nun’s coffee morning than at an American ‘holiday party’.
Back at the start of my career, I worked for a well-known music television channel, in the UK. The first Christmas work party I attended was at a restaurant around the corner from the studios, and everybody ended up back at the studios in the wee small hours of the morning. The following morning, two colleagues were fired for taking the channel off air, and my closest colleague (*waves at Disco Dave From SF*) was given a warning for stripping naked and cycling a BMX through the office.
Now that was a Christmas party.