After the traumatic failure of my first attempt at a grown up party, it took over ten years for me to work up the nerve to give it another go. This time, the idea to have a party was sparked by an auction. My current husband was a corpsman in the military (henceforth, he will be known as “Doc”) and we moved quite a bit. I had discovered that in some cities, the local PBS television station would have a local fundraiser – an on-air auction with services and merchandise provided by local businesses. Ever the bargain hunter, I would mark auction dates on my calendar and start saving my pennies months ahead of time.
The auction arrived and I was glued to the television each time it was on, calling in to make bid after bid. I was thrilled when I won the 5-pizza pack from the local Pizza Hut. My kids were over the moon when I won the auction from a local ice cream parlor. Then I saw it and my heart kind of skipped a beat – a three-hour “karaoke party” for up to 100 people! It seemed like the answer to my hostess anxiety! I mean, I didn’t even KNOW 100 people, but surely I could invite everyone from work and those from Doc’s work. I could make a little food, put out some liquor, and the karaoke machine would do the rest! Didn’t everyone LOVE karaoke? People would mingle, laugh, and sing. It would be the party event of the year!
I bid fast and furiously, intent on winning my prize, and finally success was mine! I immediately began party preparations and when I received the voucher in the mail, I excitedly called the company to set up the date. The gentleman explained that the voucher included everything I would need, including the video monitor, sound system, and even a DJ to run the event. He reminded me that there was a limit of 100 people for the particular party I had won and asked for the date I had in mind. Then he said, “And what venue will you be using?” I explained that the party would be held in my home. There was a long silence, and then he responded, “You realize this is a party for up to 100 people?” I assured him that I understood, but that there would only be about 30 people at this particular party. After another long silence, he said, “I don’t believe we’ve ever done one of these in a private home before.” Perhaps he could hear the panic in my voice at that point, because he reassured me that “we would figure it out” and we finalized the date and time.
The invitations went out and I waited for RSVPs that never came. My husband let me know that he had heard from two coworkers that they would be coming with their wives. A friend from work told me she would try to come. Surely others would want to attend? Perhaps they didn’t understand the concept of an RSVP? I went ahead and made food for thirty, although I accepted the fact that perhaps only 20 or so would actually attend.
The night of the soirée arrived and a half hour before the event was due to start, a large truck pulled into my driveway. Two burly men exited the cab and informed me they were there to “set up” for the event. They followed me into my house and looked in silence at my living/dining room, which was approximately 18×30 feet large. Then they looked at each other and chuckled a bit before heading back out to the truck. When they began to wheel in the six foot speakers, I started to realize that this was not just going to be a television, video player and microphone type of party. Instead, I had four massive speakers (we opted to not set up the others they had brought), a full mixing board, a large video screen, and professional microphone. Obviously, this was a set up more suited for corporate events. The DJ arrived shortly afterwards and this time I was braced for his surprise and amusement regarding my humble home.
I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of seating for those guests who would be watching and waiting their turn to sing, so Doc and I wedged extra chairs between the gigantic speakers. The three couples who had responded to my invitation arrived and took in the scene. I have to admit, it was pretty awkward for the first thirty minutes, especially after I came to the realization that instead of 20-30 guests, I was going to have just six. People found seats and ate and drank, listening to the music the DJ was playing. He encouraged them to get up to sing, but no one seemed willing to take the plunge. Finally, probably in desperation, the DJ started singing himself! I tried to get Doc to sing (he has a beautiful singing voice, but never sings in public) and was not really surprised when he declined. I finally got up myself and belted out “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles – doing a rather kick-ass job if I say so myself. That seemed to do the trick (or perhaps my guests just took pity on me at that point) and performances started.
We all had a pretty good time after that (unless they were all lying to me, which I haven’t ruled out yet), but I feel a bit stupid that I didn’t realize the scope of the karaoke equipment beforehand. I also still cringe when I think of all of those invitations I sent and the fact that only six people showed up. It definitely dredged up those feelings of inadequacy and unpopularity that I struggled with during childhood (and still struggle with from time to time today). Party re-deux was 17 years ago – and I haven’t yet mustered up the courage to try again. They say third time is a charm – perhaps I should give it a go?