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A dinner party survival guide



Whistler, in many ways, is a land of perpetual youth.

Many of us have foregone the typical middle-class adult lifestyle of RRSPs and soul-crushing desk jobs for a chance at adventure that only one of the world's most celebrated winter wonderland's can offer.

And, as a 27-year-old who still watches cartoon marathons and eats Fruit Loops for dinner on the reg, I still have a ways to go before I consider myself a quote-unquote adult. But unfortunately even the young at heart have to join the ranks of adulthood on occasion, or at the very least pretend to in a believable fashion.

And at no time of year do we have to fake the funk more than during the holiday season, when the calendar is filled with the North American adult's most cherished social activity: the dinner party.

While I'm by no means an expert, I wanted to give the pretend grown-ups of Whistler a few tips on navigating the social minefield that is the adult dinner party so you can get back to your childish pursuits in no time.

Stop being a disgusting slob

This is a Sisyphean task for me personally, as I tend to consume food with the reckless abandon of a starved pit bull, even if it means I can count on one hand the number of shirts in my possession that aren't covered in chicken wing sauce. Tragically, we haven't matured enough as a society to the point where it's acceptable to wear a garbage bag at the dinner table, so we'll have to try and curb our slovenly behaviour together.

First and foremost, this means portion control. Yes, I know it's fun to load your plate with a Kilimanjaro-sized pile of fixins', but the more you pack on, the greater the risk of spillage. And nobody likes a spilly-pants. Also, there's a reason your mom told you growing up to keep your elbows off the table and to chew with your mouth closed. Just listen to her. Moms are always right. It's a scientific fact.

Don't be that guy

We all know someone who fits this time-honoured archetype of the awkward dinner party. Of course, I'm talking about the probably drunk and definitely politically incorrect uncle or cousin who loves to use the formal dinner as a platform to expound on his or her enlightened cultural, social or political views. Don't be that guy.

The best way to avoid this role is to simply not be a giant jerkface, but unfortunately, giant jerkfaces often don't know they're being giant jerkfaces. If you're unsure, the best person to ask is the saucy grandma of the family, because saucy grandmas are straight shooters. But, if your nonna is the one ruining the party, I urge you to just leave her be. She's old enough to have earned that right.

Have some interesting anecdotes on the ready

Everyone says there are three topics you should never bring up in polite conversation: politics, religion and sex. What they don't tell you, however, is that the former two supposedly taboo subjects always come up at dinner parties. (And if there's enough alcohol going around, the latter will inevitably be broached as well.) So be prepared.

Go back and skim through that Introduction to Modern Religions textbook from college. Watch a couple extra episodes of The Colbert Report so you can pretend like you have an opinion on the NSA or Obamacare. (Let's be honest: the only thing Canadian adults love to discuss at dinner parties more than the follies of Rob Ford is American politics.)

And if all else fails, move on to the next step...

Know where the nearest pet is at all times

Nothing breaks up the discomfort of a dinner party better than a cute fluffy animal. Heck, you'll probably spend half the meal swapping stories about your respective pets anyway, beaming about how well behaved little Fido was that time you took him off-leash at the doggie beach. Oh, and if you do plan to regale the house guests with tales of fuzzy critters like they were your own offspring heading to Harvard in the fall, for the love of God please don't forget to load your Smartphone with pictures. I don't know why adults require visual confirmation of proclaimed cuteness, they just do.

And if you don't have any pets of your own, make sure you know where the nearest one is located so when Uncle Gary starts drunkenly spouting off again, you can distract the guests by bringing it into the room and shouting "Hey look, a puppy!"

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