I was speaking with a friend, as well as my partner and my brother about a situation that came up recently. I was invited to an evening event that is being held in an upscale hotel’s penthouse that has a commanding view of the city of Washington, DC. The event begins with cocktails, and is followed by dinner. It begins “around” 7:30pm… with no stated end-time. My partner was included (as in, “you may bring your spouse or ‘significant other’.”) The dress code is “jacket & tie.”
When I received the invitation, I read though it and then rolled my eyes. This event should be something I should attend, as it as to do with my new job. It would give me an opportunity to “meet the team.” However, it is being held in a place that is far away, late at night, in what, to me, is a pretentious atmosphere.
That is, I assert that events such as I described where people dress up to attend, that they are dressing to play a part, and the part that they play is not really who they are. Thus, they are pretending… “putting on airs” … and perhaps showing off. I detest this kind of stuff.
As I was reading the invitation, my stomach was tightening into knots. It really was making me a bit ill even to think about having to go to the event. But… it’s for the new job, so I would have to buck up, get over my reluctance to attend, suit up, and join the party. I would have to go alone, since my partner absolutely, positively, would not go with me (and I wouldn’t force the issue).
However, then I realized that the date of the event is one day after I am scheduled to have my hernia repaired. There’s no way that I could drive all the way across town to an event that runs late into the night when I am just recovering from surgery. Surely, the new boss will understand that! (He did.)
Anyway, I feel that I am quite in the minority when it comes to events like this. Most people would jump at the chance to go to this venue, and be wined and dined in such an upscale atmosphere. Am I alone in feeling repulsed by this?
The timing of these things is about as follows: “starting at 7:30pm” means that the “fashionably late” time to arrive is 8:00 to 8:30pm… with an hour of drinking alcohol (which I don’t) until about 9:30pm, then dinner with stuff I can’t eat… estimating the event ending about midnight, followed by an hour’s drive home.
How does one tell the new boss that he turns into a pumpkin at 9pm? Or tell him that he can’t eat what likely will be served? (don’t tell me, “share your diet restrictions.” Believe me, that doesn’t work.) … or that I don’t drink alcohol, including wine (which makes me physically ill)… so “have plenty of water?” Yeah, right.
Do men who dress up in a suit and tie escorting their lovely (female) spouses dressed in a nice dress to events like this behave differently compared with men who, for example, show up at a buddy’s house in comfortable clothes to watch a football game? I contend that they do… and further, much of the behavior in such costume is pretentious.
I could be wrong, and would invite comments to disabuse me of that notion.
Meanwhile, I’m just hangin’ out in jeans, leather, and boots.
Life is short: be who you are, not something you’re pretending to be.