I am lying on a cool and slightly damp surface.
I feel a tiny pressure moving up my right cheek. It is almost deliciously soothing for a while, this delicate tickle on my war weary face.
Then is starts to get obtrusively close to my right ear.
This propels me into full consciousness in a headlong rush.
THERE IS AN INSECT VERY CLOSE TO THE OPENING OF MY RIGHT EAR.
I am instantly up and in a flurry of violent movement, hands pulling at the right side of my face while every other part of my body spasms in repellent force.
The innocent ant has by this stage run for its life, thank God.
I am however not so well.
I have a thumping headache, and the thumping has just escalated to pounding. The sun is belting down around me and my bare eyes are trying to burrow into my skull to escape the glare. I also feel slightly nauseous and I’m sweating athletically. Apparently I’m still dressed in last night’s clothes and my nausea moves up a cog when I discover the very persistent smell of stale beer emanating from my jeans.
Luckily I finally recognise the yard that I am sitting in as my friend Belle’s back yard.
Unluckily I recall that last night was the night of my work Xmas party and I can’t remember large sections of the evening, including leaving.
This means that anything could have happened between when I stopped remembering anything and when I left.
Unfortunately I do remember the first part of my work Christmas Party and that wasn’t good either.
I don’t know if you are anything like me.
For your sake I hope that you’re not, because I like my workplace most when I’m seeing it in my car’s rear view mirror at the end of every day.
You would think that I would be on my guard when it came to staff Christmas parties, being the kind of person who prefers as great a distance as possible between themselves and their workplace.
Paradoxically I was not. In fact when one of my superiors asked if I was going to this year’s Christmas party I somehow ended up smiling and saying that I would go.
Of course the closer it got to last night’s Christmas party, the more I wished I’d slyly wiped out the possibility by lying about another prior commitment.
Any prior commitment would’ve been good.
Even telling myself that I wouldn’t have to stay long, and that I would benefit from a free meal and drinks failed to make me feel any more positive about the Christmas party.
Mind you, I’ve always found it difficult to convince myself to go to a staff Christmas party. Who really wants to sit around with their superiors, feeling stiff and awkward and having to stop themselves whenever they go to say anything, because anything they say is inappropriate?
When I’m in a pleasant social environment with a drink in my hand, I’d rather not behave myself, and not be careful about what I say.
Anyway, I digress.
Back to the story at hand.
I do remember that I made an effort with my appearance last night as the Christmas party is being held at an inner city hotel on a Friday night, and you never know who you might meet (outside of one’s colleagues of course).
Luckily my one and only friend from work, Belle, agreed to go with me.
When I arrived unfortunately Belle iss wedged in the middle of a lounge talking with some of our colleagues, so I find a seat at the end of a table and try to make small talk with a couple of people I hardly know.
Luckily the hotel staff regularly carry out generous amounts of food and alcohol. The person I find myself seated next to doesn’t seem interested in any form of conversation, even small talk, so I busy myself with eating and drinking to fill the awkward silence.
The phrase, “kill me now,” keeps popping into my head as I pick at an antipasto plate while my non-communicative colleague stares at his phone.
It occurs to me at one point that I probably will remember this incredibly horrid experience (for a change) and never say yes to attending a work Christmas party ever again.
Mercifully, just after I take my next ice cold beer from the generous waiter, Belle finally arrives by my side.
She explains that she made a number of dedicated attempts before she was able to successfully extricate herself from the assembly on the lounge.
As if one cue, while Belle speaks the background music changes from luke-warm watered down jazz to Friday night music for people who are still breathing.
Belle and I chat more freely about our lives and I quickly start to feel like myself again. The hotel starts to fill up and a couple of rather intoxicated blokes came over in a half-hearted attempt to chat Belle and I up. All of us get a laugh out of it though. Personally I am happy with that, because it’s the most I usually get out of being chatted up.
The evening continues to improve when the band cranks up on the stage, and to my surprise show themselves to be actually pretty damn good.
The waiters also continue to glide past me fairly regularly offering a silver tray jam packed with beer.
I am immensely surprised when I realise that I am actually having a good time. Even my work colleagues who are still busy checking their watches and staring at their iPhones at the other end of the table don’t seem so bad.
A few minutes later a group of construction workers arrive at the hotel for end of year drinks.
I felt a tinge of tenderness as I watch them file in, dressed in their good shirts and jeans, and all freshly deodorised, showered and shaved.
Tonight there are far more males than females at the hotel, and as a result it’s not long before the construction workers find their way over to Belle and myself.
Their Friday night conversation is instantly easy and entertaining, and I go from having a good time to having a great time very quickly. Eventually they even beg us to dance.
After a while I just can’t resist any longer, tantalised by their entertaining and unconventional dance moves.
One of them in particular seemed to be knocking back his pints in a similar fashion to me on this particular evening.
His name is Barney, and he doesn’t even mind me asking why he isn’t wearing a brown dress and hanging out with Fred and the Flinstones.
Perhaps he is as f@#%*ed up as I am.
He is keen to dance and that’s all that matters. As an added bonus he also turns out to be an excellent dancer.
He even knows how to dance with someone like me who is not.
He twirls me around the dance floor almost magically, punctuating our routine with dramatic dance movements that get all the other dancers involved in our repertoire.
Then all of a sudden he decides the dance floor is too restrictive, and we are spinning all around the hotel, me laughing until my rib cage feels like it’s going to burst.
As I lay on the lawn nursing my head, I dig deeper into my brain in an attempt to extract what happened next. Unfortunately my memory trails off like the happy ending of a movie, and I can’t find anything more despite turning the whole vault upside down. Eventually I decide that if that’s all I can remember, surely I mustn’t have done anything too terrible.
Unfortunately Belle is equipped with a perfect memory of the evening.
She fills me in on the rest of the night when my stomach has settled enough to allow me to stumble into her house and help myself to her coffee.
Apparently after Barney decided that the entire hotel was our dance floor, he danced me across the sunken bar that snugly enclosed our CEO and executive team. Luckily at this point in the night there was no food on the bar. Luckily too, Barney whisked me on and off the bar relatively quickly, being old enough to realise that more than a quick dance could very quickly get both of us ejected from the premises. The CEO and executive team were all however open mouthed, and unfortunately Barney bent my torso over to give them all an even better look at my face.
At least it turns out that wearing jeans last night was a good idea.
Barney had impressive energy levels, Belle reports. In between occasional visits to the dance floor apparently he and I were either up on stage with the band, or performing sexually charged duets in the middle of groups of people, most of whom were my colleagues or company management.
I apparently also gave Belle a dry hump when she got me a drink and executed multiple shagging movements when dancing to AC/DC’s, “You shook me all night long,” whilst up on stage.
It was at around this point that Belle decided we really needed to go home, despite my inebriated protests that we’d only just got to the pub.
Apparently she eventually succeeded in towing me out of the hotel amidst ongoing stares and an occasional comment from our colleagues.
She also successfully managed to extract me from an Uber once we got to her place, and then manoeuvred my increasingly floppy person in through the back gate.
Apparently however I only got as far as the lawn before I decided I needed to sit down for a bit.
Of course sitting down for a bit instantly converted into passing out, with intoxicated exhaustion quickly taking its hold.
As I am a significantly larger person than Belle there was no possible way that she could get me inside. So after rolling me over into the coma position to make sure I didn’t choke on my own vomit, Belle put my head on a pillow and a rug over my body and left me to get some sleep for the night.
Funnily enough no one ever mentioned anything about my behaviour when I got back to work at the office.
Perhaps they were all glad for a bit of extra entertainment.
Sometimes making a complete spectacle of yourself is not as terrible as you think it’ll be, and at least for a change this year I actually enjoyed part of the office Christmas party.
© Annemaree Jensen 2018