I stood around stupidly this evening at what I hope will have been the final holiday party of the season, that gathering of the sort required by professional courtesy, and at which I can’t imagine anyone just being oneself and having a genuinely enjoyable, not to mention all-out fun, time. As I tried to control my fidgeting and mounting social anxiety, I wondered at what point this sort of thing, this pressure to use a noted date on the calendar as an excuse to make employees spend even more time together than usual, began. I’m sure there was some form of toga-clad shindig among all the rhetors and scribes and legislators back in the day, thrown on one of the significant Ides by some socially climbing patron or would-be populist who nearly drove himself nuts with the preparations, and then fretted until the entire thing was over, while his guests calculated how much longer they’d have to linger before it became acceptable to leave.
And what would this mandatory fun look like in fictional realms that otherwise don’t address this sort of non-party directly? Holiday faculty-staff minglers at Hogwarts would probably seem like more of the same, just in party clothes, since everyone pretty much lived together all the time anyway. Did anyone ever have a little too much butter beer and, out of sheer boredom and desperation, end up in a closet with some pale clerk, trying desperately to come up afterwards with a great spell that would erase the experience from both their memories? What would a seasonal fête at Kafka’s insurance agency have looked like, and would Franz even have gone? He was a big cheese there, and I’m sure such things could have provided him with plenty of fodder.
I had planned on writing a post about some great phrasing in Ovid, who’s turning out to be a super-gifted storyteller with his Metamorphoses. But instead, my brain has been so bombarded this entire week with office mixers and dutiful attendance at various organizational bashes that my mental will is really not my own, and all I want to do is sleep for record amounts of time, and hopefully wake up on the other side of the holiday season, bell-laden soundtracks and tables of desserts heavy on the colored sprinkles behind me.