I've always hated the office holiday party. So this year, I had an excuse at the ready when the invite came. A couple of days after I declined, when my boss asked about my upcoming "charity night" (my excuse), I drew a blank and he called me on it. He considers attendance at the event a show of company loyalty, and now he has pegged me as a "lying weasel." What can I do?
A wise man once said to me, when he found out I was the Damage Control guy: "You know, I've always felt people can forgive just about anything - they can even forgive when you lie to them ..."
"Right!" I said, interrupting him rudely (I'm an advice nerd and can't help myself, sometimes). "Because deep down they know they might have done something similar in your boots."
"Yes," he said coolly, ignoring my interruption. "The one thing they can't forgive, though, is when you insult their intelligence."
The wise man was righteously on the money. You can lie to people. You can screw them over. You can cheat them. You can cheat on them. You can insult their husbands, their houses, their hairdos - and still find forgiveness in the end. But insult their intelligence and they will come after you with pitchforks and blowtorches; they will get medieval on your derriere.
So you lied to your boss. With this we can deal. But don't you dare insult his intelligence by clinging to your cheesy lie or it could all end in tears.
Ruefully admit to your mistake. Maybe throw in a little self-promo action and say you're more worker bee than social butterfly, you prefer spreadsheets and pie charts to cocktails and canapés (careful, though: again, if you think you will insult his intelligence don't go there).
Then suck it up and show up. Woody Allen said 80 per cent of life is showing up, and office Christmas parties definitely qualify.
You don't have to stay long (especially if you're a parent, all you have to do is tap your watch with a concerned look and say, sadly: "The sitter ... gotta go," works every time). Work the room, then leave on a high note, leave everyone wanting more. That's showbiz, baby!
David Eddie is a screenwriter and the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad.