Thursday, February 18, 2010

Varieties of 'bad guest behaviour'

12 days on from that darned housewarming party of mine, and I still haven't let all of the anger go..... Deep breaths, deep breaths.

Perhaps another griping post will prove cathartic.

Amongst the things that most piss me off about party guests....

1) Trespassing into the kitchen
I suppose some people meant well; they kept asking if there was anything they could do to help with the cooking. But, really, once you see how cramped and cluttered my kitchen is, it should be obvious that the most helpful thing you can do is keep the hell out of the way. And, unfortunately, a lot of the intrusion into the kitchen was directly linked to point 4) below.

2) Standing in really stupid places
If not in the kitchen, then immediately outside the kitchen. Or in the narrow corridor leading to the kitchen. Or right next to the table with all the drinks on it. Or immediately inside the front door. Really, people - I know it's quite a small apartment, but it does offer quite a wealth of places to stand where you wouldn't be in the way of something!

3) Being cheap
Many of my guests brought me quite generous gifts of booze and/or housewarming presents. But quite a few brought me only a very puny offering (two bottles of Tsingtao?!) or nothing at all. That is pretty miserly. (But at least I managed to warn people off trying to fob off their unwanted Chinese table wine on me this time.)

4) Being greedy
A lot of people seemed to expect to get a complete dinner from me. A lot of people were wolfing down as much food as they could, hovering predatorily outside (or inside) the kitchen to try to get their hands on each new batch of barbecued treats as quickly as they could. That's rude and selfish. I was not offering you a meal, only snackage - you should realise that and limit your consumption, so as not to leave others short. (I realise the quantities of food available were not that generous even for the 25 or so people who showed up, and would have been dangerously inadequate for the 40 or 50 who were expected to show up. But this was not down to any miserliness or bad planning on my part. It was purely a matter of logistics: I have a tiny oven, incapable of cooking more than about 15 to 20 pieces of meat at once. Therefore, to cook the 80 wings, 60-odd ribs and 20 large drumsticks - not to mention the savoury mince, johnny cakes, sweet potato chips and dip, homemade ginger beer, etc. - I was able to offer had taken me ALL DAY.)

5) Being ungrateful
There wasn't a lot in the way of thanks or compliments about the food. Some, but not much. Quite a few people seemed to be resentful that there wasn't more of it, rather than thankful that there was any at all.

6) Not drinking enough
I'm a boozer. I throw boozy parties. It's all FREE - what's the matter with you?!

7) Bombarding me with phone calls and text messages while the party's in progress
I have some sympathy if you're apologizing for running late (most weren't - apologizing, that is) or need help with directions (though not much sympathy, since my place is easy to find; and I had sent out to everyone in advance a detailed description of how to get here - by both e-mail and SMS). But, really, do you not think that I have a million other things to be doing right now? You don't phone a party host during the party unless it's absolutely the last resort.

8) Bringing additional guests (without asking)
The new apartment is fairly small. And I like to keep these gatherings fairly intimate. And, if I'm catering, I'd really like an accurate idea of total numbers. Of course, bringing a 'significant other' is always OK. Or an attractive single woman you think I might like. In fact, if you ask me nicely, I'll probably say yes to anyone. But don't just assume you can turn up with two or three total strangers in tow.

9) Hiding stuff
Lots of prominently placed bins and trash bags around, people. Absolutely no need to be putting empty glasses and used paper plates under sofas and so on.

10) Asking to use the computer
It's a party. My computer is closed, switched off, disconnected from the Internet. I'm up to my eyeballs with stuff in the kitchen. It is not a trivial thing to ask me to take time out to set up my computer so that you can use it. And if one person starts getting online, others will follow. And a lot of these people are drunk, and have sticky fingers. Now, I might not have minded if this were a close friend, and they'd asked me nicely, and given me a pressing reason. But it was one of the total strangers who'd tagged along with someone, and she asked with an air of entitlement rather than supplication. I nearly went ballistic on her.

This isn't rocket science; it's simple consideration and good manners.

But there seems to be less and less of that around these days.

And there seems to be something about parties that brings out the worst in people, as if the opportunity to be in someone else's home without close supervision by the owner nurtures a perverse urge to transgress the normal boundaries of polite behaviour.

I really don't think I'm going to throw a party ever again.

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