In my time, I’ve hosted and been a guest at quite a few parties. Over the years I’ve made a few observations about the different types of people who attend parties and those who throw them.
Generally I prefer to be the guest rather than the host, there is so much less work to do. As a guest, all I have to do is turn up and bring a bottle or some other gift for my host, and then, depending on the type of party, but most importantly the signals one gets from the host, figure out when to leave before I overstay my welcome.
That said, I recall being told about an old man who often embarrassed his wife when they had guests around for dinner. The old man lived a very regimented life and liked to go to sleep at 9pm.
Whenever they had dinner guests and it got to 8.45pm, he would get up from the dinner table declaring: “I’m off to sleep now and I think it’s time you went home to do the same.” His poor flustered wife would have to tell their guests to ignore the old man, but by that point the damage had been done and most people would make their excuses and leave.
As a host, I like it when people are on time to arrive and I was never afraid to say in the invitation that guests should bring a bottle of something — let’s face it, booze is expensive. Of course, there were a couple of times when I thought later that I should have been more specific.
I recall one particular guest who, while compliant with the request to bring a bottle, brought a bottle of beer and then proceeded to drink copious amounts of wine and spirits provided by the other guests and myself.
I recall one party where a couple brought along with them several bottles of wine. I was so pleased with them that I made a mental note to always have them on my guest list.
However, a few hours later, one of my friends alerted me to the fact that there were two people taking wine out of the fridge and putting it into a bag.
When I got to the kitchen, I found it was the ‘generous’ couple and when I asked what was happening, they explained that they had another party to attend and had used my fridge to keep the wine they were taking to that function chilled. It took enormous effort not to look disappointed, and instead I smiled and said something about how sensible they had been.
South Africa is currently grappling with President Jacob Zuma hanging on to office tooth and nail. The situation reminded me of a party where the hosts were tired and fed up and want the last guest to leave, but he refused, insisting that he hasn’t finished having fun.
By the time you read this, President Zuma will probably have been forced out of office, but he’ll have done his absolute best to stay on, much to the frustration of his host, the people of South Africa. That’s certainly not the sort of guest one wants to have at a party.