You come on time.
You are an early bird.
You are late to the party.
One of those best describes you.
A forty-something couple enters a party in full swing. It’s over an hour past the starting time according to the invitation. Everyone swarms around them as if they are local celebrities, and the twosome doesn’t miss a beat.
Here I have been glancing at my watch thinking how soon I can duck out. I bet some of you are nodding your heads vigorously. The older we get, the more we go to bed with the sunset, and rise at the rooster’s crow.
Now the festivities are kicking up another notch, and I don’t get if the couple’s arrival sparked the fire, or it was about to ignite anyhow. Oh well, I guess I need to revive and party up.
Certain women and men have that knack, and playing by the rules on the invite isn’t important to them. Did they let the host know that they would be coming late? Perhaps, it doesn’t matter. The host is a laid back kind of soul that loves company.
In case you’re interested, I usually get to a party quite close to the appropriate time if at all possible.
Now I am not even going to mention party crashing, for that was something I did- oops- as a twenty-something, and it was loads of fun slipping in to a room in the middle of the evening pretending to be one of the guests.
Read the descriptions and see where you land on the hands of the clock.
Ready. Set. Go. It’s a timed quiz.
1. Fashionably late. You are arriving to be noticed by the maximum number of guests. It takes practice to figure it out just right, and you have to have the exact personality that can pull it off, too. No shrinking violets here.
If there is an age thing mixed in there, I am not sure. Certain people love the attention and think a party doesn’t begin until it warms up. Their rationale must be that there is no sense wasting a precious hour or so until all the other lively folk appear.
2. Plain old late. On the other hand, you could be the type that is simply late and nothing less is expected from you. It’s your normal behavior and everyone knows it about you. You are a dependable friend with all good intentions, but you can never pull it off.
I had an aunt like that. She would come on a dead run to every family function a little past the hour. We all knew she would get there after another minor calamity putting together her famous Jell-O salad, or fetching the dog in from outside. We’d patiently listen to the latest trauma and shake our heads.
Is it genetic, or acquired behavior?
Is your partner compatible with you time wise?
3. Embarrassingly too early. Coming way a head of time while the hostess is shoving down a hasty dinner to her kids is awkward. It’s party rude, too, unless you are a pretty regular friend.
Hanging around filling water glasses and making useless conversation is not what the host wants just before party countdown. It’s that looney hour when lists are checked like a drill sergeant and the second-in-command executes last minute details while the host is in a mad dash applying her make-up.
Get a life. Seriously.
4. Herd mentality. If blending in with the crowd is your security blanket, your strategy is pulling up to the curb, waiting for others to join you walking up the front sidewalk and entering together like a bunch of junior high school chums.
Another option is driving around the block a couple times until there are several cars parked on the street. Once in awhile there is that accidental phenomenon when folks peel out of their cars all at once like lemmings, and you feel a sense of immediate relief.
5. Spot on. Ringing the doorbell at the exact time set on the invitation is remarkable behavior. You have few fellow compatriots left out there in the world. Besides, you might be hanging on to a lost art in manners from a previous decade or two. You are punctual for appointments, dates and every other occasion as a matter of course. At least, that’s what your fortune cookie says.
6. Slightly late on purpose. Appearing 5 to 10 minutes late so as not to be the first guest is a practiced technique. It’s a tricky balancing act, and you still might be the first person to ring the doorbell with your sweaty fingertips. It’s hard to judge unless you keep binoculars in your car.
7. No show. Staying home cuddling with your dog claiming you don't feel well is one way to avoid socialization. It may not be the last straw, though. There are those nights when the last thing you need is a party, and relaxing solo is the healthier way to go.
Introverted soul. Maybe not.
My guess is that your answer will be: all of the above at one time or another with the possible exception of__.
No matter what your style, remember to have a sensational time and bring the host a gift.
Oh, and don’t forget to send a thank you note. I have written a column, “Waiting for Your Answer,” on that social faux pas if you check the LCN archives.