The Big Issue : Edition 566
PHOTOSBYJAMESBRAUND A FRIEND OF mine, male, not the best socialiser on the block, just had a party freak- out moment. Four days out from his 40th birthday, Trevor (obviously not his real name, he’s suffered enough) created a Facebook event and announced he was having a barbeque. Good on him for biting the bullet, but he’d played chicken with his birthday and lost. Four days’ notice for a birthday with a zero on the end is taking the piss, and he’d set himself up to fail as surely as if he’d put a cream silk frock through a washing machine’s hot cycle with a load of blacks and a tissue. Most peeps would be hard-pressed to accommodate a cup of tea and a sponge finger with Robert Downey Jr on four days’ notice. Trevor, you nutbag, I love you, but no-one’s coming to your party for two very good reasons: one, people be genuinely doing things that were locked down back in February 2016; and two, your soiree is emitting the odour of “disaster” from as far away as Kuta. I went. Of course I did. I know the chill wind of no mates. Poor bastard. The cohort at Trevor’s 40th consisted of Trevor, his parents, his toddler, his cat, his housemate, his ex, his other cat, and one actual friend. There was a cake the size of the Red Centre with a small corner cut out of it, enough surplus dip to fill a hot tub, and a scrubby and freezing backyard. The event radiated enough awkward male poignancy to fuel three reboots of Napoleon Dynamite. But you can’t blame Trev for hedging his bets. He’s just Australian, and Aussies think it’s up yourself to celebrate anything personal. Anything that smacks of “I’m worth something”. This makes it challenging to organise a decent shindig in reasonable time. I once DJ’d a wedding where I had to counsel the couple that it was a) not “self-indulgent” to have » Fiona Scott-Norman (@FScottNorman) is a writer, comedian and party trooper. FIONA Get the Party Started Already “There is no hour so lonely as the one that stretches between the stated time of your event, and the first guest arriving.” speeches that referenced the word “love”, and b) not “drawing attention to themselves” to have a wedding dance. It’s your wedding, you’re probably going to have, tops, three of those, and if you want the first one to last it’s definitely worth pulling your finger out and showing some enthusiasm. We’re not versed in exuberance. We’re versed in fear. Even those of us who like parties and are down with creating opportunities to be showered with adoration* find them stressful. There is no hour so lonely as the one that stretches between the stated time of your event, and the first guest arriving. The first guest, btw, is never happy about it. No-one wants to be first, everyone wants to turn up when the party’s already cooking, so do complex mental calculus to ensure they hit that sweet spot. Hence 30 people arriving in a wodge at 8.55pm for a party that started at 7pm. Meanwhile, the host’s had three panic attacks and is drunk standing next to what’s left of the cheese. Why does anyone bother? There is nothing more dispiriting than creating an event, as all it triggers is an avalanche of “I can’t! I’m in Tunisia that weekend”, “Sorry, my exhibition’s opening”, “I wish, but Simon’s shouting me a dinner to celebrate finishing my Masters!” Not only are people not coming, their lives are way better than yours. On the day, of course, everyone else cancels an hour out because “they’re tired”, “double-booked”, or “the babysitter has been arrested”. Gah. It’s psychological torture. And yet my birthday is looming and I’m contemplating making it a thing. If you’re invited four days out, please come. Trevor and I will be next to the cheese. *Guilty. My 35th birthday party invitation featured a photo of me naked on a horse with the legend underneath “time gallops on”.