By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) The CBS Radio Chicago holiday party is tonight, and six stations worth of revelers will convene to do whatever it is we do at this thing every year. Picture the entire staffs of WSCR, WBBM-AM, WBBM-FM, WXRT, WUSN and WJMK, along with various executives, the shadowy folks from the digital department, engineers ready to show how fun they actually are, and free booze.
It looks pretty much like your office party, only with Terry Boers there insulting people profanely.
Stuff will happen, as it has happened over the years at this event and others in our station’s history, and it’s best to avoid being the story, lest you become something of a legend. Presented here to help you do that is a field guide based on my observations of every holiday party I have attended since 1995. These are some ideas for what not to be.
1. Loud Guy
Maybe he has a hearing problem, or perhaps he just has naturally powerful pipes. But good god, man, I’m on the other side of a noisy room and it’s like you’re standing next to me talking about your recent dental procedure. I walked away for a reason.
2. Person I Don’t Know, Who Seems to Know Me
Utterly harmless, but totally unsettling. He looks familiar. Hearing his name does nothing. I think I may have had this identical exchange with this same guy last year. He may be with the morning show, possibly accounting. Don’t be this guy for my sake, because it makes me nervous.
3. Hors D’oeuvre Walrus
I give him credit for proper positioning, I have to say. He’s right by where the servers emerge with warm plates and stacks of cocktail napkins, ready to grab five skewers of beef satay. He also circles back when the first crowd coalesces and recedes, picking off a few more. You may have a chance for a cherry tomato caprese, but be quick on the spinach/feta phyllo triangles. Bacon-wrapped scallops? You have no shot, so don’t bother even thinking about them.
4. Guy Who Falls Down the Stairs and Gets Fired
As self-explanatory as you’d think this would be, it has actually happened twice. The firing is not necessarily a direct result of the unfortunate – if hilarious – exit from the scene, but came within two weeks afterward. Can’t imagine it helped. Note: this is almost always a guy in sales who is not doing well. Picture Jack Lemmon as Shelly “The Machine” Levine from Glengarry Glen Ross, but 20 years younger and considerably dumber and less interesting.
5. Shop-Talk Guy
All he appears capable of doing is gossiping about the radio business, which is the last thing I want to do. I don’t care who’s on the outs up the dial, that new assistant PD down the dial, or anything anywhere on the dial. I’d actually rather talk sports, which is saying something since I just came downstairs after doing that for the last five hours. This is when I try to find WXRT’s Marty Lennartz, or WSCR engineer Dave Miska, who can each carry on a substantive, engaging conversation about absolutely anything.
6. Sexually-aggressive Recent Divorcee
I’m flattered, really, but no thanks. She had three stiff whiskeys right when the bar opened, and is now telling every next approaching male exactly what she would be willing to do to him, in no uncertain terms. Dolled up with a little more makeup than usual, she’s not unattractive – and you can see how she probably looked real good in her prime – but my delicate ears are not used to such things.
7. Fringe Employee Trying to Sell Himself
He doesn’t know that this is not the time or place to hand out air-checks or business cards, or urge people to watch his YouTube videos on his phone. This is an office party, not a networking opportunity. He thinks he’s being resourceful and enthusiastic, when he’s actually reminding you why he has yet to find full-time work.
8. Woman With That Scream-Laugh
It takes a moment to realize that she’s ok, and that she’s merely laughing. In a few seconds, the adrenaline jolt will dissipate after your fight-or-flight instinct took hold and you scanned the room for emergency exit signs. You thought she was being attacked by velociraptors, but it was just her way of indicating that something was funny. (Note to self: do not tell this woman the one about the pirate and the steering wheel.)
9. Married Guy Trolling For Hot Sales Girls
It’s never going to happen, but that never stops him. She tries to be polite, but everyone else sees a middle-aged man standing out at that table of twenty-somethings. Even though she doesn’t smoke, she can’t wait for her friend who does to step outside, so she can get away from this guy. Go home to your wife, desperado.
10. End-of-Party Hoarder
It’s like he’s never seen a beer before, and has no idea that the CVS right across the street actually sells beer. At last call he’s doing that bro-tastic carry of four longnecks in each hand, as if he’s won something. This is the guy who brags that the bartender “hooked him up,” when the bartender actually just wanted a reasonable tip for doing his job, and would like to set this guy on fire.
11. Guy Arranging the Afterparty
Mr. Social Chairman just has to keep the fun going. He usually corrals a band of young singles to take expensive cab rides to stand in a long line outside in the cold so they can spend money they don’t have at a club they don’t really enjoy. All too often No. 9 ends up there too, even sadder than before. Warning: these unfortunate efforts can also lead to karaoke.
12. Karaoke Guy
He was this close to leaving. Oh, so close. But now he’s here, he just did a chilled Jagermeister shot, he’s attempting to sing REO Speedwagon, and he can’t fight this feeling anymore. He’s forgotten what he started fighting for. He really should have fought that feeling, because it was a bad feeling.
Keep in mind, there’s work tomorrow. See you then.