If we consider ‘party’ a gathering of individuals in a private location (house, apartment, a book store after hours, etc.) at which intoxicants are consumed as both a social gesture and a way of ‘opening oneself up’ so as to encourage maximum social bonding, what we have before us is something I think most of us can relate to, as the incidence of parties are easily one of the most prominent and used vehicles for human bonding, networking, and canoodling. Here, then, are some of your ‘dynamics’ of a typical party; your common situational occurances which inform or structure singular interactions between individuals which, observed from a distance, appears as a lot of people having a pretty damn good time.
In which you are engaged in a group conversation where one person in the group is someone you haven’t met
Here is always a somewhat uncomfortable situation, if you’re at all sensitive to social convention or simply somewhat shy. You’re in a conversation with three people you know and one person you don’t, and you’re all participating equally. If you’re a certain type of person, you’ll avoid eye contact with the person you don’t know, you’ll avoid directly addressing the person, and you’ll avoid speaking immediately after his conversational input. If you’re another, perhaps more well-adjusted type of person, you’ll just acknowledge the person, acknowledge what she has to say and intoduce yourself at some point after the group’s dispersed.
- In which you are engaged in a group conversation where one person in the group is someone you haven’t met but to whom you are physically attracted
- In which you are engaged in a group conversation where one person in the group is someone who you’re sure you’re going to sleep with tonight
In which you make jokes in the middle of an extended, not entirely serious diatribe
When compared to life outside the party, the amount of jokes thrown into conversation at parties seems to be disproportionately large. I have noticed – in myself and, basically, everyone – that the behavior that immediately follows a jokey statement in the middle of a conversation is reliable and consistent across demographics. What seems to happen is this: you’re talking about something serious, but then you make a tiny little joke, people laugh, grin or otherwise quickly acknowledge that a successful joke has been made, and you keep talking. This is viewed as charismatic: you are being charismatic. But I’ve noticed that what actually happens is this: you’re talking about something serious, but then you make a tiny little joke, and then you pause, almost imperceptibly, look into the eyes of the person from whom you most want approval and grin or make an otherwise meaningful facial expression, that person laughs, grins or otherwise quickly acknowledges that a successful joke has been made, the other people in the conversation take this cue and acknowledge the joke (sometimes the other people acknowledge the joke independent of the cue), and you keep talking.
- In which you suddenly, unexpectedly have Center Stage
- In which a joke doesn’t Take
- In which you perceive that your joke was not heard, so you attempt to make the same joke again, and it’s met with similar disinterest, indicating that it was actually heard the first time but that it simply was not funny or interesting, also indicating that you have just shown an unseemly self-interest and the belief that what you have to say is funny and should Take, deserves to Take
In which you are talking to someone but you don’t want to be talking to them but you also don’t want to be not talking to anyone
A troubling situation indeed, sometimes you find yourself speaking with someone who is to you a sub par or uninteresting individual. You would like to be out of this conversation, but, again, you don’t really want to be sitting in the corner talking to no one, otherwise people will begin to think you’re weird.
- In which you feel you have no choice but to sit alone and not talk to anyone because you don’t know anyone and no one seems open to conversation with a New Person
- In which it suddenly occurs that for some unknown reason, the conversion simply feels awkward
- In which you and your best friend have nothing to talk about and as such it becomes uncomfortable
In which you are romantically interested in someone
With everyone it’s probably different, but with some people you know if they are similarly interested and with others you just don’t know. You just can’t tell. In this situation you pay a secret attention to the one you admire: you notice every time he laughs, every time she makes eye contact with you, the fact that he’s potentially talking to someone he’s interested in, the fact that she just touched your arm, the fact that he keeps touching somebody else (are they just friends or…?). Romantic longing will dictate that you act a certain way, get too drunk, don’t get too drunk, are on guard, or actually attempt to style your hair in some meaningful way.
- In which someone is romantically interested in you but the feeling is not mutual
- In which people next to you randomly start making out
In which you get into an unexpectedly passionate discussion with someone
As the alcohol begins to take over, you soon find yourself enexpectedly feeling very serious and invested in a conversation about which you and your conversational partner are displaying over-the-top amounts of interest and enthusiasm. It occurs to you: you’ve been waiting for a person to be as interested in the topic at hand as you are, and you’ve just found him. This is an exciting opportunity to share similar feelings and generally concur on a niche opinion that puts you both on the same team.
- In which you get into an unexpectedly passionate discussion with someone that ends when you realize you weren’t talking about the same thing
- In which you get into an unexpectedly passionate discussion with someone that ends just as abruptly as it started and strays into strange territories of ambiguity, boredom, awkwardness, and wanting to exit the conversation.
- In which you leave a conversation to mingle with someone no more than five feet away, with the person you just left still in your line of sight, sitting now alone
In which you leave of your own accord
There comes a time in the night when the realization simply occurs that it is time to leave. I have not yet been able to identify what factors are set in motion to lead to this fairly confident or for-sure experience of ‘knowing’ that it’s time to leave, but it’s probably just a simple combination of feeling sort of listless, bored, and tired. Or maybe it’s more economic: it’s simply not worth what you’re paying (you’re paying with your presence).
- In which you bail without telling anyone
- In which the host of the party strongly hints at you leaving being desired