Monday, October 04, 2010

Party Guests Scanning The Crowd

Dear Grace,

I hate it when I am at a party or social function and the person I am talking to is barely paying me any attention while he (or she) scans the crowd for someone "better". Any suggestions for handling this unpleasant situation?

Grace Says:

I feel your pain, my dear, for I suffered a similar fate recently. There I was at a lovely cocktail benefit at the home of dear friends. I noticed the host scanning the crowd frantically and beelined to offer assistance. He was searching for his wife as the guest of honor had arrived. Host was understandably reluctant to abandon the g-o-h, but wanted his wife to help welcome the esteemed gentleman. Grace to the rescue. I sent host and g-o-h to the bar and perused the assemblage for the hostess. Found her, and whizzed over. She was mid-convo with an older D.A.R. type, so I politely excused myself and informed her that her hostessing duties were needed STAT. She introduced me to Mme. D.A.R. and sped off. I prepared to slide into cordial chatter with the dowager, but was disconcerted by her immediate gaze over my shoulder, in search of more prominent or illustrious company. I had just about gotten out "nice to meet you" when she held up her glass, clinked mine, said "Good Luck to you", summarily dismissed me and was gone. Frankly, I was gobsmacked.

I guess I have to give the old trout credit; she certainly didn't subject me to those inattentive "mm-hmms" while she scanned the gathering for someone likely to advance her social position. Her exit was downright surgical, not to mention abrupt and just about rude. But I prefer her method to the disconcerting experience of being in a conversation with someone who is constantly looking past you for the companionship of another.

Kinda like Sean Penn here at
Elton John's Oscars Party....

But to answer your question....If you find yourself in the position of second fiddle or worse, simply excuse yourself. You don't deserve it, and the creep demeaning you thus doesn't deserve the privilege of your company. There are a number of effective escape hatches--nature calling, need to call home, or my personal favorite, the empty glass. I am a big proponent of keeping my beverage about 1/3 full at parties. This provides me with a handy evacuation route to refresh my drink. And, if the gathering is full of bores, boors, and boars, you won't run a terrible risk of overindulging even if you have to repeat the procedure several times over. Slugging down 1/3 of a drink in order to rescue yourself is something you can repeat a few times before becoming a risk to self and others.

And things could be could be trapped at a party with these guests:

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