Sunday, February 1, 2009

The 'Home Party' Review

There is something I dread even more than the dreaded trip to town. And that would be ‘Home Parties’. You know—the ones with the ‘hostess’, the ‘ladies’, and the ‘rep’.

I went to one today. I did so. I splashed on a big smile, and with inner misgivings, I draped myself in a disguise of pleasantness and pleased excitement.

Now I don’t know what it is that irritates me so bad about home parties. I think it’s the layers of obligation involved.

First of all, I am obligated to go because my friend, who is so kind to me in every way, has particularly asked me to go. I am obligated to be happy, because nobody wants a sullen participant. I am obligated to listen to a semi-truthful spiel from the ‘rep’, that is most irritating.

I am obligated to play a game or two. I am obligated to be quiet about the unfairness of the game, because no matter how many points anyone gets, they will not get enough to win a prize, without booking another party.

I am obligated to avoid expressing my outrage at prices far beyond reason. I am obligated to support false notions and tell lies and express ‘favorable’ falsehoods about products that are nothing more than crap. And the rule of the day is I must buy something! I can’t just simply party, and browse, and leave.

And furthermore, I am obligated to buy stuff I neither want nor need. And I am obligated to cost those purchases within a boundary of flattery for my friend, the hostess, and some invisible mesh that defines the whole ritual.

No matter what is outside my beliefs or convictions, I am obligated to be a gracious hypocrite about it. Because what makes a ‘Home Party’ such a grand party, is each of us collectively fulfilling all the painful obligations.

And then what happens when I head for the door after today’s party? As I make my way to my car, my friend calls out to me…

“Roberta, wait! Before you go, I need to tell you. Don’t forget my candle party on the 15th!”
I strongly suspect that every participant at a Home Party comes masking their irritation with academy-award winning performances. And, because of this, I want to ask my friends, why they have home-parties. But forgive me for that thought. Another of my obligations, is not to ask.

And so I can only ponder the question within myself. It can’t be for the chintzy hostess-gifts. And if it is for the socializing, there are other ways and means. At least there were before the birth of Home Parties.

Once the ‘Home Party’ was introduced, female populaces in this area were deceived into thinking that without the add-ons of a ‘rep’, ‘products’, and ‘sales’, a simple brunch and yak session is meaningless. Quite silly, actually.

And so, as much as I would like to have a simple brunch with friends and neighbors, the Home Party consciousness is the first impediment. The second is if I were to host a simple brunch, it would be seen as a blatantly rude affront to the hostesses of ‘home parties’.

Those considerations aside, there is something else that I think connects in some oblique way to the ‘Home Party’ philosophy. The way I personally react to a sales-free invitation, like a ‘fun day’ or ‘spring frolic’. I read those invitations with a strong sense of non-obligation and freedom to decline. I MUST attend the ‘Home Parties’, but the others—no prob. I can sidestep those occasions if I feel the slightest disinclination to attend. It doesn’t seem right but that’s how it is.

But what bothers me the most about ‘Home Parties’ is that in one short afternoon I have gone from a person of integrity to a counterfeit. Acting out so many lies with my most intimate friends. And even worse, there is nothing I could have done differently to avoid it.


Pauline said...

Ah, the dreaded home party. I went (with exactly the same misgivings and ill humor that you so aptly describe here) to a candle party just before Christmas. It was hosted by a neighbor and all the neighborhood women were invited. On the way there, the woman who accompanied me voiced all the same protests you mention. We agreed we were going simply because it was a mutual neighbor and friend who invited us. However, I shrugged off the feeling of needing to buy something, and vowed as I left that I would never ever attend another of those awful affairs. When the next one came up, I thanked the prospective hostess for inviting me but told her I could not attend. I offered no excuse, simply repeating that I was sorry but I could not attend to every question she lobbed at me. The night of the party, I sat home and toasted my bravery with a cup of hot tea and an early bedtime (and not a trace of guilt!).

The Old Bag said...

I'm in Pauline's court, having begged off the past couple of home parties with a "sorry, but I can't make it"...turns out I had a prior commitment with ME and my intact checkbook here at HOME! :-)

You never know, perhaps a simple neighborhood brunch would be the start of something great....

Roberta S said...

Totally admirable, Pauline. I wish I could do that but the neighbors are all well aware that Hub and I are more often 'playing cabin' than doing anything critical. Hard to beg off anything in this laid-back world.

Thank you, nevertheless, for letting me know. With that encouragement, I will try to be braver.

Roberta S said...

Hi OB, pleased to have you stop by. I admire you for taking a stand.

With all the 'home parties' raging through here at the moment, it is a certain thing a non-sales party would be an affront to far too many. But, when the 'home party' heat dies down (if it ever does), I may rethink that idea. said...

I had forgotten about these, too, Roberta. I haven't attended many. I am always happy to see a new posting from you. I am going to follow your example and post intermittently to my blog, which I hope you will revisit, starting today. (Sorry to leave a plug but how else would you know?)


Roberta S said...

Hi nora, that plug for your blog doesn't offend me in the least. I would have been much more offended if you hadn't told me.

Thank you for the compliments, I am glad you can to visit, and I certainly will be revisiting your blog as well.

p.s. I'll tell my friends you haven't been to a home party for a while. Don't want to have anyone missed out! :)

Joy Des Jardins said...

Oh my gosh have described so beautifully exactly how I feel about these home parties. I can't remember the last time I attended one. I always feel so obligated to purchase something that I really don't need. Other than enjoying chatting with friends, I can to without the guilt and the expense. Your post was spot on as far as I was concerned....thanks.

Roberta S said...

Hi joy, I am surprised at how many concur with my thoughts, though I probably shouldn't be.

And I agree, the biggest assault is the feeling that one MUST buy something, anything.

Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment. Much appreciated.

joared said...

Aha! "...there is nothing I could have done differently to avoid it." You simply plead unavailability and don't go. I've avoided many such home parties that way. Often I could use some vague obligation to my husband as an excuse. Isn't that one of the benefits of marriage, so we can use our spouse as an excuse to keep from doing activities we don't want to without alienating acquaintances?

Roberta S said...

Yes, joared, you are so right. And I did use this excuse myself in busier times. But my neighbors are only a skip down the road and they are well aware that Hub and I have far more time than money since we retired.

I do thank you for commenting -- a worthwhile point for most, but it doesn't work for me. My neighbors know what time we rise, what time we go to bed, and that most of the time when there is no snow to shovel we are 'busy' playing cabin out back. The only thing they don't know about me is that I blog.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that I feel sad for you and how negative and lonely you sound.

Roberta S said...

Anonymous, the comment you made is an 'assumption', though perhaps, there is a possibility, it might be true.

And so, I also, will make an 'assumption' that may or may not be true. And the assumption I make is that you either are a home-party hostess, and if not, you run close support for someone who is.