How to Attend Your Company's Holiday Party
by Edmund Osterman

As the holidays approach, it's time for your company's annual holiday party. This year, they've rented the banquet room of a chain motel in the suburbs. The invitation mentions that you can bring a "spouse/guest." What should you do?

Obviously, you can't bring your spouse, or partner, or anybody you'd like to have not hate you for the rest of your life, assuming they don't murder you in the parking lot after the party. No one you love should suffer an evening full of your fellow employees cracking convoluted, dull in-jokes: "Bob-monster! You look as confused as Sheryl when she sent those outdated tracking detail reports to the Salzburg account! Ha ha!"

Worse is the possibility of this scenario:

CINDY FROM ACCOUNTING: "Who's this with you?"

YOU: "This is Elizabeth, my wife."

CINDY: "Your... wife? But I thought that we..." [Trails off, dabbing at her eyes with tissue.]

And then you've no choice but to hold Cindy's head in the "crystal"-style plastic punchbowl until she drowns, which means that payables received will be backed up for weeks until they train a replacement.

So! The hell with bringing your partner to the party. Here are some better suggestions.

Bring a clown. Hire one of those cut-rate children's-birthday-party clowns and tell them that everyone in your company needs loud encouragement to "come out of their shells." Your coworkers will leave within minutes, giving you full command of the open bar. Just you and the clown, getting hammered, the clown's red greasepainted lips all smeary from seven and sevens, both of you so plastered that you can't make it home and get a hotel room together.
Bring someone wearing a big, fuzzy bear suit. When coworkers ask who's in the bear suit, act quiet and troubled, then change the subject to a professional sport currently out of season. If pressured, look at your bear-costumed guest stumbling through the flimsy metal folding chairs and allow a single tear to glide down your cheek.
Bring a caricaturist. Have him draw your coworkers in unsettling, hurtful scenarios. Perhaps David from procurements is sketched spanking Earl, the assistant vice president of technical resources. Perhaps Susan from delivery management is drawn slumped in a corner, a broken whiskey bottle at her feet, a photograph of herself dangling from one limp hand. You, of course, are drawn as a Greek god, backlit by blinding sunlight.
Bring a hand puppet. A vacant-eyed ceramic cherub is ideal, though an old gym sock with goggly eyes glued to it will do fine. Your hand puppet should constantly be this close to molesting someone you're not in conversation with but it must never make contact. Pour drinks down the hand puppet's "throat" and all over your shirt and pants.
Stay home and watch television. You deserve a break from work, and you don't have a spouse or partner to bring even if you wanted to. Eat a pound and a half of microwaved chicken patties. Unevenly iron your work shirts. Maybe go out at 10:30 p.m. and wander around a grocery store, avoiding eye contact with everyone. Happy holidays!