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.