Friday, January 28, 2011

Attending a party shouldn’t cost you $25.

Some people think I’m a cheapskate or a freeloader. They may be right. And this post may severely inhibit my social engagements in the future, but I’m going to have the courage to weather your disapproval. I hate sales parties. Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, whatever it might be that you are pimping…if you want to get together and visit, let’s do it; if you want me to spend a minimum of $25 on something I don’t need, so you can rake in $150 worth of freebees, I’d rather not.  That's not a party, it's a fundraiser.

I developed my aversion when we were first married. We didn’t have the disposable income to drop 18 bucks on a lipstick or buy a $20 potato peeler, but I felt obligated, whenever someone invited me to a party, to try and come. And once I was there, it never felt like a choice. You eat a few bites of cheese dip, listen to the sales spiel, and then around comes the order form. If, like me, you have perused the entire catalog in search of any token item you might be able to afford, let alone find use for, you watch your fellow guests like a hawk, waiting to see if any of them passes on the forms without filling one out. Over and over again, they take the order form and make a purchase. It always came down to me. Either I was going to choke up the money and make a purchase, or I was going to be the only person in the room who failed the host. And there’s never anything in the catalog for less than $20.

On top of the overpriced junk I either brought into our home or had to find a recipient, for whom it would actually be a suitable gift, most such parties were followed by three more invitations to the same darn party. For the salespeople, it is a giant pyramid scheme. By the time you go to a few parties and overpay for an item at each one, you develop the strongest urge to victimize all your friends again, by hosting your own party. If you’ve had to pay $25 for a lousy carrot cake mix, you are at least going to throw out a bowl of your own Chex-Mix and see if you can scrounge up enough sales for some free moisturizer. I’ve been tempted…very very tempted…but I’ve never given in. I have never thrown a single one of these beastly parties. I don’t own any real Tupperware that wasn’t handed down by my mother-in-law after our wedding, and I will never hoist anyone to the Pink Cadillac sales level.

Life got busier and I eventually had a conflict that prevented my attendance at one of these shindigs. It felt so good to say no, to get off the hook and spend my next $25 on something I actually wanted. I said no more and more often. Occasionally, someone does invite me to one where the goods actually seem interesting enough to risk attending, but my favorite invitation is the one that includes, “I’m going to have some snacks and wine, and I really just wanted an excuse to have some friends over, so come say Hi, even if you don’t want to buy anything.”

I go one step further when I invite people to my house. The invitation usually reads something like, “We’ll have snacks and wine. Let’s get together.” No strings attached.

They invited me four times, but each time I refused to go. Nehemiah 6:4

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