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November 21, 2008

Office Party, The

November 21. Day 144.

Friday was Mr. A's company's holiday party, held at Sea World. Arcade games, an arctic ride, photo-ops with huggable plastic marine mammals, and a live penguin encounter, encountered: men in dark suits drinking vodka cranberries, a dance floor that remained more or less empty until the final hour, raffles for vacations to exotic places (but not vacation time, hardy har) and wives, so many wives, wearing whatever but almost universally clad in very long, glittery earrings that couldn't have been diamonds now, could they?

Dinner flew by -- we kept getting up to say hi to people, making the rounds to stations of "foods from around the world," and getting handed drink tickets by his Muslim buddies. Mr. A was annotating and footnoting all our interactions. The boss. The boss's boss. The guy he played tennis with last year. The colleague who suffered through that awful restaurant with him in Prague.

And then, we were off to the arcades, where the mood subtly shifted. Engineers, hundreds of engineers in formalwear, stormed the air hockey games and skiball slopes like there was no (work) tomorrow! And strangely, sublimely, hierarchies collapsed. Employer and employee, boss and bossed? Pah! A new order was quickly forming. Who among these algorithmic animals could bonk badgers better? Who could shoot a hoop or scoop a pooch?

We had each received 10 tokens with our entry tickets. Here, I realized, would be a perfect opportunity to do some haggling, to stretch our allowance. I checked with Mr. A first. Wouldn't want to be "the crazy girlfriend." He gave me the green light, so for the rest of the night we downed clowns, flung frogs, whacked whiffleballs. And I bargained left and right, two for 1, practice shots, 3 for 2, trial rounds, and, always, always, strategy tips. We ended up with three stuffed animals!!!

Gained: $5? half a dozen arcade games? Hard to quantify, but who's counting when you're having fun?
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