There was a time when being invited to a party, a social event, or an intimate gathering meant that one was attending with a clear indicator as to who were the host/hostess, and in keeping with the basics of good manners, were able to decide what would be an appropriate gift. Birthdays meant that there was a person celebrating, and the celebratory revelry surrounded this individual. All attention, all fabulous fun, all the ‘likes & dislikes,” “dos and don’ts” were again centered around the ‘individual.’ Basically, it was a lovely cosmos of loved ones where the center of everything was, as rightly should be, the person who had the special day. The same applied to anniversaries, milestones, lunches brunches and everything in-between. Those days, unfortunately, in our “desperate to be recognized” society seems to be a thing of the past.
Apart from the monstrosity of ‘color coordinated’ hosts and guests, we have the vulgarity of having personal events, or what should be personal events, slathered with branding, and sploshed with ‘name mentions’ of who provided what, when, how, and how much. If this was not tacky enough, guests are also asked to ‘hashtag’ the sponsoring brands, on their social media, in order to get the maximum mileage for the unfortunate people who actually made the frightful event happen. The ‘devious dalliances’ to get more and more for free does not end here. The media are invited, bullied and cajoled into giving a few pages worth of coverage of “so and so celebrates their (fill in the fake number) birthday,” and also please note, it is always “in great style,” at a “grand celebration,” etc. I think a few lessons in what IS “great style” and what ARE “grand celebrations, would be an excellent starting point to the writers before they make these overtly fawning literary gestures.
As everyone in “crinkle society” is only indulging in the “great and the grand” it is no wonder that those with actual good taste and any sense of self-worth, stay as far away as possible from these social atrocities. For those who do not know, I use the term “crinkles” because new money notes make a “crinkling” sound, whereas old money notes, are quiet. Hotels and restaurants are besieged with calls declaring what “big spenders” the callers are, and thus are entitled to “free anything and everything” as they are celebrating their “anything and everything.” The PR offices are in nightmare mode trying to figure out where to draw the line and how to tell the so called “big spenders” that they should be spending on their own party, and not expecting it for free. Enter the “intermediary.” These leeches of the worst kind, can be in the guise of ‘party planner,’ ‘BFF’, etc. with the singular mission of interceding on behalf of the “big spenders,” highlighting the ‘benefits’ of hosting the event, that they claim would benefit the venue. Usually these blood suckers are so aggravating, with little or no sense of boundaries that the venues actually give in, and give them the best ‘deal’ possible. So off goes the “intermediary” glowing in the glory of their success to break the news that the party is happening at little or no cost.
Next comes the poor vendors, be it food and beverage, gifts, décor, etc. They too get told how wonderful it would be for their brand to be ‘seen’ and ‘known’ to have done something for the “big spenders” ‘no spending’ party. Again, those not knowledgeable enough to know this old story of freebies and freeloaders, actually believe that feeding or clothing some ‘social moth’ and her eclipse of moths, can benefit their brand. From balloons with faces, names, fake ages, and all tackiness, to floral mountains, to frightful self-portrait cut outs and banners, along with sashes, slashes and smashes, the horror only escalates. There must have been some memo that the few of us ‘selectively social’ folks missed, where it is stated that floral arrangements need to be gargantuan in order to be ‘good.’ Apart from having to get on a step ladder to see over them while attempting dinner conversation, to being a brusque eye-sore, the levels of poor taste and bad judgement, just seems to expand.
Next comes the photographers hired specifically to be ‘personal paparazzi’ for the ultimate “desperados.” As the ‘social moths’ engage in meaningless chatter about who has the most unfaithful husband, the cameraman is supposed to capture them ‘incognito’ as they toss their manes, and flash their gems. The edict is that they look ‘natural’, engaging in conversation with their besties, but in reality, the last time these ‘social moths’ saw natural was when they themselves were birthed, and didn’t have the opportunity to add on a filter!
This travesty also extends to telling fellow guests to tag, not tag, de-tag, re-tag, etc. the entire gamut of freeloaders, and their followers. From the hairdresser and makeup artist, to the dentists, podiatrist, gynecologist, private investigator, gardener and any other folks who did work for free, gets bagged and tagged, as part of the celebratory fun-fest. The ‘Surprise party” scenario is another comedy of dizzying proportions, as the celebrant feigns ‘shock and awe’ upon entering a pre-planned venue. It is your birthday! How shocked can you be? The best part is when the recipient of the ‘surprise’ actually manages to color coordinate with the theme of the ‘surprise party.’ I mean seriously? Just stop. The “big spenders” keep topping themselves with how low they could stoop when it comes to mooching off others while displaying a falsified image of their fabulousness. ‘Shameless’ is too good a term for these “financial vampires.”
There are those however who still cling on to decency and accountability, and that is always a refreshing breath of relief. Folks still go out and pay for their food, they still host friends and family at eateries, and actually pay the bill, they still have parties where they pay for everything done in their homes, and also, they still entertain without needing the media to build them up as “great and grand.” I completely understand when businesses and organizations have a massive media presence as that is part of their requirements in order to thrive. When private individuals want everything in the press, and want everything for free? That is just sad. There was a wedding, not so long ago, where the invitation included a small note requesting guests to please NOT post any images on social media, as the family preferred to keep the wedding, an absolutely elegant picturesque event, as low key as possible. How wonderful to see people secure in their very exitance that they do not need to prove their worth to anyone.
As we move closer to the close of 2022, let us make an effort to shine the spotlight within, and work on, build and highlight how amazing we are just for being ourselves. Let the accolades come, let the accolades go, but always keep in mind that none of these externals ever define who we really are.