Saturday, January 11, 2014

Behave Yourself: 10 Things We Know About New Year's Receptions

This information would have been more useful to you a few weeks ago.  Frankly, we could have used it, too, but we had to complete the requisite field research first.

1.  A New Year's Reception is an Army tradition that essentially consists of a gathering held at the Brigade or something Commander's house.

2.  New Year's Receptions tend to be scheduled the weekend after the actual holiday, apparently with the purpose of minimizing your excuses not to go.  Your partner's boss knows whether you are in town that's a thing.

3.  But...what if the schedule conflicts with religious services that you regularly attend?  In that case, you are excused but your partner will still have to go.  That is- you are excused by the Establishment but this doesn't qualify as being excused by your partner.  (And in at least one of our editors' households, the soldier IS the Establishment. Can we say that here?)  Anyhow, mandatory fun just got real.  

4.  You'll have to wear something.  According to pretty much everything we've read, that something should be appropriate.  For god's sake do not wear cutoffs.  It's January.  And where's your hat? Just kidding, this is the South. Also don't go across the street to ask the neighbors that you've never quite gotten around to meeting if you can borrow their son's cheerleading uniform.  It won't even fit you and you probably realize it still qualifies as INappropriate if it did.

5.  No one will tell you what that something appropriate IS.  The Battle Book someone gave you says to check the invitation. 

6.  The Battle Book is mostly irrelevant to your life.  The Battle Book thinks that you have an invitation to check.  Silly Battle Book, where is this parallel universe in which MilSpouses ever have any access  to first-hand information about mandatory fun that requires their presence? Since the invitation came through MR. MAN and he thinks "the event is considered informal" should do the trick. 

7.  Your partner will tell you that the invitation does not mention attire.  This is not true.  Your partner will tell you that the dress code is "informal."  You'll check the Battle Book again and notice that it says to wear "Sunday Best."  You have no idea what that means.  Neither do any of your friends.

8.  One year the "other ladies" aka female spouses Who Go To Stuff wore the classic range of things- everything, that is, from a cocktail dress with strappy metallic sandals (on a 40-something) to grown-up dressy sweatery outfits that are fancier than what your last boss wore to work on non-suit days but not something a Millenial owns. Best bet is a simple, calibrated professional dress.  The one you wore from the Title 9 catalogue last time wasn't quite right but on the plus side, it didn't stand out either. PLAN! Borrow something! Don't sweat the shoes. Just do like, black tights and have your soldier polish the shoes you already own.  S/He's probably pretty good at it.

9.  Small Talk*. Just Do It. Ah, the large gaping chasm between no one actually wanting to talk to anyone else and no one actually wanting to stand awkwardly hanging about. Remember, this is a place where you belong., just walk around and use one of your 6 Practiced Phrases to open dialogue with anyone not wearing a uniform. Oh look- there's a female-looking person. She walks upright! Discuss!

10. SUPPORT YOUR SPOUSE. No, this event actually has no bearing on your spouse's career. No, your presence is not actually required because, like, technically you're not on the payroll.  BUT it IS important to Mr. Man. And despite the seeming simplicity of a transactional relationship with your partner over mandatory fun work events in the present and future tenses, well, if your dude is like this dude, it will mean something touchy-feely to him if you smile and say "Aye Aye, Cap'n!"  You can do that, right?

*People will ask you what you did "for Christmas."  Remember, this is small talk, so there is a correct answer here and it has nothing to do with your non-Christmas religion disclosure.  Mandatory Fun Rule #2: this question refers to anything completed the week of Dec 25th that can be stated in a two-word sentence containing a past-tense verb appropriate for professional conversation,  e.g.: "We traveled.  How about you?"  Spouse Rage will result if you mistake this (or any other mandatory fun interaction) as a Teachable Moment.  The only one learning jack beanz here is you.  Soak up that culture!  Soak it up!

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