It's the time of year when choices are awesome.
annual it is. The ones I didn't write about still make it to the Hall of Fame, cross dressing on a warm Mumbai night, drinking with a seven foot bride and a dinky little Maharaja. I always get a little concerned that no one will dress up, that the evening will be a complete bust. Around 7.30 pm, right before a party, when I have whipped myself into Party Throwing Frenzy for the past 24 hours, I suddenly get really tired and really fed up, and tempted to cancel the whole thing. This is the point generally when you have cleaned up your entire flat, and there's nowhere for you to sit without making creases in the cushions.
Halloween became a Thing almost sneakily. One year there was nothing, no surprises, and the next, almost every single bar advertised a "Halloween party." Halloween parties were generally costume parties though, just a reason to get dressed up. I love it because it's a chance for all of us to be fancy dress without being self-concious about it. It's an evening when you stare at a person next to you, and you can make conversation so easily: "What are you?"
But socialising is hard in this city, with people more likely to ask "What are you?" without any context, and so a lot of people are wary of mingling any crew that doesn't know each other.
It's only awkward for the first forty minutes.
I used to get into a panic about going alone, always trying to get one friend or another to come with me, but in the last year, I've begun to enjoy going alone to things, because then you can chat exactly how long you like, and leave quietly.
A caveat: this only applies to planned parties. For example, if I ask you over a week in advance, I have plenty of time to buy booze. But if we're going to my house after a bar, or we just made the plan that evening, it's likely you'll have to drink either cheap vodka or rum or some brandy that's left over from last year, unless you bring something else.
The interesting thing about not asking people to bring their own alcohol is that a lot of people do anyway. Like a hostess gift, I assume. It's nice to find yourself drinking a bottle of wine you didn't buy. It's nice that no one feels pressure to get something to your party if they didn't have time to do it.
But, oh my, I have no money left.
(EDIT: After hitting "publish", I'm feeling a little bad about this bit. A little stupidly entitled. Everyone should be able to have a party, and entertain, whether or not they can afford to water everyone. So, long live the BYOB concept for people who can't afford to b-everyone else's-b and long live the non-BYOBs too.)
I've begun saying "young people." It makes me sound like a 70 year old grandma, but I feel a bit like a 70 year old. With all the thinking, and reading, and writing I've been doing about gender issues this last year, I feel a great desire to reach across to women in their early 20s or teens and say, "MAKE GOOD CHOICES!"
This is new, this universal need to butt in, and I remember being so embarrassed by my mum when she used to start talking to strange people. I'd kick my shoe on the ground, or start reading immediately, even standing up, my body pulled away from this event.
Eventually, we all become our parents.
We gave up smoking the next day, Good Thing and I. A scary wheeze rattled out of my chest each time I inhaled. We were too hungover to stand straight.
I read Allen Carr's The Easy Way to Stop Smoking and internalised it. My inner "do not smoke that cigarette" voice is Allen Carr. It's been a week, and two days. I don't miss it except when I have my coffee. Then I miss it like an old friend who died suddenly while on holiday and their last words to you were "See you next month!" You still click on their Facebook albums to see the picture of the blue blue sea they posted with the caption: "So happy to be in Paradise!"
You might always miss them at strange moments.