Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Not fatally, not yet. But a bout of laziness yesterday, and now I'm behind. Argh.

I need a grading gnome to get busy. Also a house elf.

I was asked to have our department fall get-together at my house this fall; we usually go to a restaurant, but in the interest of saving money, we're doing it at a home. And I said yes. My house is actually pretty well set up for get-togethers, so long as they're casual, but this means I have to have my house pretty cleaned up and presentable by Saturday early afternoon, when the caterer will appear to set up.

I sometimes don't go to the fall get-together because it's very couples-oriented. The seating at restaurants is pretty much always set up so partners sit next to each other, so as a single person, I usually end up either with an empty chair or one of the other single folks. The other single folks are mostly fine (though there's one who creeps me out a bit), but the whole couples thing works way better for couples than for single folks. (There are exceptions, but I find few couples are really easy to hang out with when I'm the single person. I value those few highly, but they aren't in my department.)

Maybe it's just my near total lack of social skills. Even if it's my fault, I find it less than comfortable or fun.

I'm hoping the eat around the house thing will encourage people to mingle a little bit more. Or I can go hide down in the laundry room or something, right?


  1. It makes me think it would be good to revive the old tradition that couples are never seated together on social occasions, so they can talk to other people. Good luck with the gathering!

  2. Anonymous5:31 PM

    I came over here to say the same thing as clio! there's a reason conventional etiquette specifies seating couples apart. And it has nothing to do with your social skills.

    Miss Manners would not approve.

  3. why would you think you lack social skills? the couples setup at work functions frankly seems very tacky, and not well-suited to the purpose of fostering team spirit in the workplace.

  4. Couples sitting together means that neither of THEM have social skills. It's not you :)

  5. Ditto to all. My favorite couple makes a point of not sitting together, and I tend to pick up on it and just start telling people to sit apart--jokingly, but not really.

  6. Can we go in together on the grading elves and house elf? Or send yours over here when they get done at your place?

  7. Ditto everyone!! And I'm inspired that next time I go to a dinner I will not sit next to my husband.

    Um, make sure that you get a promise from someone to stay and help you clean up. My stepdaughter hosted a party for the grad students, and the prez of the grad club promised that she would pay someone to clean up. Well, she didn't, and NO ONE stayed to help. (Rude little so-and-so's.) I'm sure your colleagues are actually mature, and having caterers will help, but you don't want to have to clean twice!

  8. Thanks for the support all. Two things: this isn't like an assigned seating thing, so people choose where to sit. And couples mostly choose to sit together.

    I think it's my lack of social skills because it doesn't seem to bother the other single folks that I've asked.

  9. Or maybe they're just claiming it doesn't?

    Move chairs around so that people have to sit in odd numbers. It might help.

  10. a more informal mingling thing ought to work well.

    my husband and i mostly avoid going to each other's work things, because the non-work spouse always feels awkward. we usually sit together if it is a sit-down thing, because the non-work spouse doesn't really know anyone else very well, if at all, and everyone else knows everyone. a mingling situation is easier.

    maybe we are just odd, having worked out an arrangement to mostly avoid each other's work things.

  11. I've met you. You don't lack social skills!

    As someone who has only recently joined the "couples" category (at almost 40 years old), I hear you. My husband and I work pretty hard to make sure we hang out with single and couple friends and make them feel welcome, because we've been the "odd person out." It doesn't feel good.

    We do tend to go to each other's events, because it's such a small school and small town that there are few things to do in the evenings. Every school has a different culture that way, I suppose.

    I'm sorry it's so tough. {{{hugs}}}

  12. P.S. I always felt equally awkward at weddings, especially when the couple selected readings about how "two are better than one." It always felt like a personal slap in the face.