It was my boyfriend’s (let’s call him “Brandon”) 22nd birthday recently, and since I don’t have a lot of money, I decided my present to him would be a surprise birthday bash with all of his closest friends at the new house that we have just leased. We live in City A, whereas Brandon grew up in Suburb L, about a half hour’s drive away, so getting his friends down here is sort of a rarity, what with people involved in school and work and so on. Brandon’s closest friends are “Chris” and “Jason”, whom he grew up with and considers brothers to him. Chris was more than delighted by the idea when I told him, and I asked him if he would be able to pick Brandon up and distract him for a couple hours on the day of the party while I went and fetched the supplies and decorated the house. Chris agreed, and all of the other guests were invited, about ten or twelve of them. This was a week before the party was supposed to start, and I got the RSVPs by Thursday, including Jason’s.
Saturday was the day of the event, and I went to my office job while Brandon relaxed at home, knowing only that Chris was coming over that day. At 5pm when I got out of work, I had a frantic text message on my phone from Chris urging me to call him. He said that he had been unable to get to City A any earlier that day so Jason had picked up Brandon and was distracting him. Chris was coming later, along with a friend of Brandon’s that he hadn’t seen in close to a year. All right, fine, as long as someone got him out of the house, I didn’t much care. So I went to the park near my work and waited for my friend to pick me up for errand running. I went on Facebook, and long story short, made a major mistake that led to Brandon finding out about the party. He was absolutely thrilled and agreed not to come home until everything was set up. He sounded a little sad on the phone, though, and I was slightly suspicious, but didn’t think much of it as I began my whirlwind adventure of decorating, ordering pizza and selecting music.
Now, my guests are well aware that Brandon and I don’t have a lot of extra money. This party was invite-only – if I didn’t invite you, please don’t show up (though I think most parties are like that…) and I trusted that most of our friends would understand that. I was buying things according to my official count, which was seven, including me, Brandon and the roommate. Jason pulled into the driveway, and I saw Brandon was sitting in the backseat, which I found odd…until I saw a strange girl sitting in the front seat. I covertly asked my other guests, who were all friends with Jason, if they knew who she was, but no one had the foggiest. All right, well, I can’t exactly tell her to go home, so with any luck, she’ll be fun to hang out with. Everyone goes inside for food, and I ask Brandon how his day was. He’s evasive, which is unusual for him, so I now definitely know something is up, but I’m not going to make a big deal of it at his birthday. So I put the leis on him and the big fuzzy hat (I love tacky parties) and we all eat, talk, catch up and play some party games.
Did I say we all? I meant everyone but Jason and this girl. She doesn’t bother to introduce herself but makes a beeline for the Xbox and she and Jason decided that their time would be better spent playing Portal 2, a game that Jason OWNS and can play at any time that isn’t his best friend’s birthday party. Brandon’s brother, Chris, and the other friend all try to get Jason involved in what we were doing, but he’d just ignore them. During a particularly spirited game of Telepictionary (if you haven’t tried it, you really should, it’s awesome), I gently asked Jason if he wouldn’t mind turning off the game and hanging out with us. This girl actually started TALKING OVER ME, telling him to put a portal somewhere so she could jump blah blah blah. I was so tempted to tell her where to put that portal it wasn’t even funny, but I instead gritted my teeth and went back to the game. After two hours of this, they abruptly stand up and put their coats on. “We’re leaving,” says Jason. “Bye. Chris, can you take [Brandon’s brother] home?” Then they just leave.
Later on as we’re cleaning up, Brandon reveals what happened earlier that day. Jason and this girl (whose name he didn’t find out either) showed up at the house, sullenly saying, “We’re supposed to take you out,” then took him to downtown City A where they proceeded to ignore him for almost 3 hours as Jason and this girl had a date. I had told Jason about this a week in advance, and he told me that he hadn’t had anything planned for the day. I was really mad that someone would do something like that. This day was about Brandon! I wrote Jason a long note telling him that I was disappointed with his behavior, since I don’t believe in sitting and letting it brew (I would have preferred to discuss it in person, but Suburb L is kinda far away) and he never bothered to respond. Brandon is a sweet and forgiving person, but I doubt that I will want to see Jason any time soon. 0504-12
There are many times when rude boors appear to control the situation and the well mannered are paralyzed into doing nothing in their own homes out of fear that having a spine equates to be rude themselves. Being hospitable to guests does not mean we cater to every whim they have to indulge their selfish wants. If you do not want guests in certain rooms of the house, you close the doors sending the clear message this area is off limits. If you do not want people watching the television or playing with x boxes or fiddling with computers during your event, you turn these devices off. Unplug them if necessary. If a guest has the audacity to actually turn them on, you calmly walk over and turn it off while beandipping like a pro by asking them if they would like to join the others or have a drink. The truly exceptional hostess takes command of the situation and assertively targets the strange guest with very pleasant questions as if she were the cheeriest friend this guest ever had…”Oh, hi! I haven’t met you! I’m Fifi! I own this house. And you are? Freaka? Did I get that right? Delighted to meet you! Have you met Steve over here? No? Oh, I am so derelict in my hostessing duties…let me introduce you around to everyone!,” and take her by the hand to meet everyone in the room. And if guest sits there like a bump on a log refusing to, well, be a guest, then ignore him or her and remind yourself to not invite them again.
As for Jason’s uninvited girlfriend, there are times when entertaining that we get hit with the unexpected guest and etiquette demands of us that we not make a scene about it but welcome them as if they had been invited. Nine out of ten times the uninvited guest doesn’t know they actually were not invited but believed the real invited guest that they would be welcomed.