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The Best Finger Food Tournament

December 13, 2012

My grief over Daddy’s condition has made me even more hypersensitive. I keep it cool and then bubble over like water boiling noodles in too small of a pot. Example: the White Elephant Gift Exchange that took place yesterday at the office. I’ve always hated that game and typically opt not to play. But this year I went all out. I arose early to prepare succulent pigs in a blanket for the potluck portion of our holiday party, spent $20 on an ugly sequined sweater for the tacky holiday sweater contest, and purchased a mini kitchen knife with a stainless steel blade for the aforementioned gift exchange.

The tacky sweater contest was optional. The bright green piece I selected complete with linebacker-high shoulder pads closely resembled something a few of the ladies in my building would wear in a non-ironic way. I strode down the hall, sequined wings glinting red, green and purple against the water fountain, and immediately received a slew of compliments.

“That ain’t ugly. I’d wear that,” one woman announced outside the elevator.

“It’s a matter of opinion,” I crossed my arms.

Laughing, I compared myself to Julia Sugarbaker, igniting intense reminiscence of the Designing Women television era. Only one other woman participated in the competition. Enormous bells lined the periphery of her hideous over-sized sweatshirt. A puffy snowman and reindeer filled her torso: ornamentation a kindergarten teacher might glue to her classroom window or, more accurately, “artwork” her students would make during Craft Hour.

I breathed heavily and counted to 10, fine with the fact I would inevitably lose. We were forced to leave the room while our colleagues voted. They deliberated for about 2 seconds. While my coworker clutched her prize, a bottle of champagne, I smiled and clapped for her, pleased with my classy sportsmanship.

When I realized almost all of my pigs in a blanket had been eaten, I silently congratulated myself on winning the Best Finger Food Tournament had it existed.

For the White Elephant Gift Exchange, I drew the number 2, instantly placing me at an extreme disadvantage. I strategically selected a wine bottle-shaped gift bag and sure enough pulled out a Seven Sisters white blend. I felt good about throwing away $20 on the Julia Sugarbaker sweater, since I could bring a bottle of wine home. I remained safe throughout the game as my colleagues fought over a Christmas cactus, Crock Pot, and brown and pink scarf.

Then one of the executives strolled in.

“Oh, well he can go last, can’t he? It’s all right,” someone decided.

No fair! I threw a tantrum to myself.

Someone stole our department head’s box of salted caramel chocolates, so he decided to open the executive’s gift instead of re-steal the Crock Pot he originally had claimed or rip away my manager’s martini set. The executive had brought two pieces of organizational schwag he purchased at the campus bookstore: a Georgia State University mug and lapel pin. What a bummer.

The executive’s turn came. He eyed the alcohol selection and snatched a red wine blend with a Cadbury chocolate bar taped to the bottle. The wronged party then grabbed my white wine blend—my consolation prize after my ugly sweater defeat.

“That’s fine,” I narrowed my eyes. “I have an extensive home bar. I’ll take the knife,” I huffed, stomping toward the building manager who couldn’t care less about losing a utensil. People seized chocolate and champagne and Starbucks gift cards—an endless cycle until one lady (supposedly my friend!) dared pilfer my knife.

I could either reclaim my wine or end the game—only one present remained on the table.

Had the executive not upset the natural order of things, none of this would have happened. I squinted at him, shaking.

“You know what, that’s fine! You take that knife. That’s a NICE KNIFE. I’m just going to open this last present and end this. Otherwise this will go on FOREVER. I’ve got a dental appointment anyway.” I lurched toward the present and ripped it open. “Oooo, what’s this? Oooo, an LED BOOK LIGHT!! ! !” I over-smiled, pointing toward it and freezing in case someone wanted to take a picture.

I was the bigger person.

I fisted the wrapping paper into a ball, tossed it into the trashcan, threw my chair back under the table, and ran out of the room ripping off my tacky sweater. Later I bitched to my coworker nearly in tears.

“You clearly are under a lot of stress,” she said. “And this is…the final straw.”

Before leaving for the dentist I re-entered the party room to fetch the platter that cradled my pigs in a blanket. None remained.

I really did win the Best Finger Food Tournament.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Timber permalink
    December 14, 2012 6:56 pm

    We are both far too obsessive, as evidenced by this blog post. However, I must concur with your feelings about secret Santa parties, or whatever they’re called. I hate being compelled to purchase a gift for some random person. I like giving thoughtful presents, but you can’t do that when you’re unsure of the recipient! I would also never steal another person’s gift, just on principle! I’m sorry you didn’t get to keep the wine.

    You’ve also broached another important issue for me: tacky Christmas sweater parties. I hate them. I’ve vowed never to attend another one, or if I do, I swear to have total disregard for the theme. Other costume parties? Fine. Obviously costume attire is not problem for me. But tacky sweaters? As you’ve mentioned, people wear those out of sincere festivity, and I don’t want to be confused for one of those fashionably challenged people! LOL

    Nice post. You evoked a lot of emotion. 😛

    • December 14, 2012 7:12 pm

      I know, I’m never participating in a gift exchange again. They bring out the greed in people.

      And a couple of ladies at the office seemed annoyed by my “tacky” sweater choice – particularly one woman who also was wearing a knee length sweater with felt sequined swirls in different colors thrown across it. I think I even offended the cashier when I purchased the piece and mentioned it was for an ugly sweater contest. In a tacky sweater contest, there are NO winners…

      See you tomorrow, sissy!

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