My only two friends are bottles: a Jack Daniels fifth and a whiskey mixer. They’re sitting together, a perfect pair, as I recline in my chair, alternating swigs from each. A glass full of whiskey sour lies untouched near my feet. My eyes glaze over into a soft focus. I’m half concentrated on the Xbox game I’m playing and half concentrated on the question of when to take my next swig from the whiskey bottle. It’s 9:45 p.m. on a Friday night, and the party “time” on Facebook says 9:00 p.m. The only two attendees so far are Jack and, uh, whiskey mixer.
Now, allow me to go on a quick tangent. I’ve been thinking about writing one of these Off the Beat columns for a couple of years now. I knew I wanted to write only one, so I’ve waited patiently until the issue I felt truly needed to be opined upon approached me and said, “Hey, this travesty cannot remain unaccounted for.” That time has come today. Today, in this column space, I will be weighing in on one of the great epidemics of our time: intentionally showing up to parties an hour after the Facebook start time.
That scene a couple of paragraphs ago likely reflects an extreme version of a reality you have either imagined occurring or, perhaps, lived yourself. And, trust me, I’m guilty of pulling the same shit. For the last three years, before heading out on a Friday or Saturday night, my friends and I would have the exact same conversation.
Person A: “Yo, when should we show up to that party?”
Person B: “What time does it start?”
Person C: “Think it said 9 on Facebook.”
Person A: “Okay, yeah — let’s dip at like 9:45.”
Every time! Not once did any of us consider the idea of, hey, perhaps actually attending the party on time. We never even discussed why we intentionally evaded the start time of the party — it was just an implicit understanding. And, of course it goes unsaid: Everyone understands the party won’t be popping at the time it says it starts.
Recently, I turned 21 and moved to an apartment that wasn’t a 30-minute walking distance from Southside, so I’ve become particularly attuned to the culture of party throwing instead of just party attending. The first time I welcomed some people over and nobody showed up for the first 30 minutes, it was a little annoying. The second time, I was thinking to myself, “Alright, you all suck.” By the third time, I was berating people as they walked through the door.
Let me resume the scene from the beginning. At about 9:50 p.m., the buzzer on my apartment door rings. I leave my NBA 2K game to let in a group of three people. Two minutes later, another buzz. Four more people drunkenly saunter in. Another couple of minutes pass — another buzz. This continues for a good 20 minutes or so. Dozens of people manage to roll into the party between 9:50 p.m. and 10:10 p.m., after exactly zero people showed up between 9:00 p.m. and 9:50 p.m.
Do I even need to explain why this is such a travesty? Put yourself in the shoes of the party host.
First, the obvious: Hosts have graciously provided their living space for you to drink and potentially yak. To prepare for the people arriving at the host’s place, the host has likely enlisted his or her roommates to help clean the apartment or home, taking up precious hours of the host’s and the roommate’s lives that could have been spent watching Netflix. And, the host has likely spent his or her own money to purchase alcohol for you, the guest. The least one can do is show up on time to the party and ensure the host doesn’t end up drinking whiskey and playing Xbox alone while waiting for the guests.
Why does this happen? I touched on what I believe to be the surface-level reason a bit earlier in this column: We don’t want to show up to a party that’s not already happening. We want to roll into a rollicking party — the music bumping, the people conversing loudly — and make our presence known subtly. We don’t want to walk into a silent room with one person sitting on a couch, waiting for people to show up.
But, why not? What’s the worst that could happen? There’s some vague, unidentified fear of showing up early to something that I can only address, for myself, as some kind of subtle anxiety. Maybe I don’t know the host very well. Maybe I fear that showing up to one of these parties early and failing to sustain interesting conversation would reveal something about myself that I refuse to confront. Maybe it just means I’m a coward. It’s all conjecture, because it’s something I’ve never really dwelled on until, well, I wrote this piece. I won’t attempt to speak for others, but I’m guessing the explanation I have for myself isn’t too far off from what many feel.
Anyway, hey, that got unnecessarily real, but here’s the point: Next time you’re invited to a party, show up at the time listed on Facebook. The epidemic is out of control, and there’s only one way to stop it. Like I wish Gandhi had once said, “Be the drunk you want to see in the world.”
“Off the Beat” columns are guest columns written by Daily Cal staff members until the fall semester’s regular opinion writers are selected.