I had a party at my house a few weeks ago, and I’ve always hated the idea of excluding anybody, so I kind of cast a wide net in terms of invites. It was too wide, I know it, I hate having to do stuff like this, but it’s either invite everybody or don’t have a party at all. Because the last thing I want is for someone’s status update or shared photo to ruin it for someone else, that, sorry, I had a party and I didn’t invite you.
And am I really being cool about it? Looking back, I don’t think I’ve ever been cool about it at all. I kind of spread the word in advance to the people that I would have invited had I allowed myself a more exclusive get-together, and then like two or three days before, I put out a general announcement to everybody at work, friends on Facebook.
All I’m really doing is reaching for the bottom, right, like who else is not only not going to have any plans on such short notice? I feel like a jerk even laying it out like that, but that’s exactly what it is, all right, people with nothing else to do, just waiting for a last minute sympathy invite.
The party was on a Saturday, I sent out my mass invite on a Thursday. Friday morning this guy Phil at work sends me an email, “Hey Rob, what should I bring?” And what do you mean what should you bring? You ever been to a party before? Just bring some beer, a bottle of wine, I don’t know, a bag of chips. This isn’t high tea here.
But what do I say? “Don’t bring anything.” Because what are you really supposed to say? You tell people not to bring something. You kind of hope that they bring a little extra booze or some snacks. Not Jell-O. OK, that’s just weird. That’s what Phil brought. He brought some weird molded Jell-O thing, like something straight out of a sixties cookbook, a big, green ring with stuff floating around in it.
“Hey man, I made some dessert,” and he was smiling, like I was trying to get a read on him. Was this some sort of a joke, like a gag gift? But I swear, I couldn’t tell, and while a part of me really wanted to laugh and be like, “Ha, that’s hilarious,” I just really wasn’t that convinced that this Jell-O thing wasn’t anything less than a hundred percent sincere.
I was right in the middle of laying out all of the snacks, pouring this giant bag of tortilla chips that I had bought into a big plastic bowl. I had all of this party stuff spread out around me. And it wasn’t because I wasn’t ready yet, it was because Phil showed up exactly at eight o’clock.
Like was he walking around the block? Just waiting for the clock to strike eight so he could knock on my door? Nobody else was here yet, and I was clearly still setting up, but he has this thing in my face, it wasn’t even wrapped, like I don’t understand how he got it all the way from his place to my place, was he just sitting on the subway with the Jell-O on his lap, breathing on it? It’s too much.
And I get it, I can be socially awkward sometimes, I have that same tendency to overthink everything. And yeah, when I get invited to a party, I’m totally stressed out about what time I’m supposed to show up, right, but I’m not the guy walking around the block wasting time so I can show up at just the right second, right, I’m the guy walking around the block waiting for just the right time to make an entrance that looks natural, like I’m not obsessing about how many people have arrived before me, or if I’m too late.
OK, so I understand. But this guy is like me but with absolutely no inhibitions. Just, it’s eight o’clock, ding-dong, here’s your Jell-O. Maybe it was a joke. “Ha, that’s funny,” I did say it, hoping he’d laugh back, because come on dude, I’ve never seen a dessert like that in real life, and maybe it’s really tasty and everything, but nobody’s going to eat that. And tell me you had it wrapped up, please, tell me you ditched the wrapping outside, something, because I can’t get over the exposed jiggly surface, like somebody two seats down from you on the subway sneezes, it just seems like a giant germ magnet.
“What’s so funny?” and what do I say to that? “Nothing,” I said, “Just something I was thinking about from earlier, something funny happened.” And he was like, “What happened?” and I wanted to be like, Phil, come on dude, just help me out a little here, please, just stop with the follow up questions, just put down the Jell-O man, come on dude, just let me finish setting up here.
“Where do you want me to put this Jell-O?”
“I don’t know man, anywhere’s fine. Just grab yourself a drink, OK, just hang out while I finish getting ready.”
And I’m telling you, that fucking Jell-O was like the hit of the party, I don’t even know where that cake slicer thing came from, because I definitely don’t have a cake slicer, like Phil must have brought it, OK, he must have had that thing in his back pocket. But everybody had like cake slices of Jell-O, I wanted to give out a warning, like, “Jesus, Chris, don’t eat that Jell-O,” and Chris was like, “Why? This Jell-O is awesome. Classic Phil.”
What was I not getting? “You’ve had this before?”
“Yeah man, Phil brings it to all the parties, that’s like his thing.”
And I was just thinking, how come I’ve never been to any parties with Phil before? I mean, I don’t care, it’s not like I have to be invited to everything, all right, I know that not everybody does the whole blanket invite thing like I do. But not once? How many parties are people having that Phil’s invited to and I’m not? Because I would have noticed that, I’m telling you I would have noticed a green fucking Jell-O ring cake with pieces of canned pineapple floating around in it.