Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quote Unquote – the magazine

In the first of an occasional series of reprints, if that’s the word, from the original magazine, here is James Macky, the Artist Formerly Known as James Allan, writing in a Jan/Feb 1994 feature called “I Get a Kick Out of This”:
I come from a very anti-social family. Naturally, I tried to rebel. As an adolescent I promised myself that I’d be different. “I’m always going to have heaps of friends, and ask them around all the time, and lead a very busy social life,” I swore.

But now, in my 40s, I find myself declining every invitation that comes through the letter box. After a decade as a society/PR journalist, attending every free bun fight from Mt Eden to Melbourne, I find myself all partied-out and like nothing better than a social diary entirely free of engagements. It’s not that I dislike people, you understand. I just don’t like them en masse.

However, there are times when I am impelled to attend some festivity or other. On these occasions I arrive as early as possible. Thus, when everyone else rolls up about half an hour to an hour later they find me just leaving, my social duty done.

Often I arrive to find my hosts half-dressed, rushing about the living room, hiding old newspapers and children’s toys under the sofa. “Oh,” they say, somewhat distraught, “here already! Is that the time?”

“Sorry, am I early?” I say. “Let me help prepare and you go get dressed.” Gratefully they rush to the bedroom to complete their toilette while I check the ice, chill the wine and arrange the hors d’oeuvres. By the time the other pleasure-goers descend I’ve had a spot of sherry, eaten the best of the snacks and earned the gratitude of my hosts. Laden with Brownie points, I slip quietly away.

By leaving early, before the alcohol-fuelled dramas begin, I see everyone at their arrival best, all clean and pressed. I am thus spared making stilted conversation with complete strangers, and, far worse, the upsetting spectacle of dear friends eating too much, drinking too much and, in general, losing those finer qualities for which I admire them. Take my advice – if you want to enjoy your friends, don’t party with them.

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