For me, the best part of working in an office was the Christmas party. The frothy affairs took high drama and dark comedy, rolled them into one big cheese ball and threw in a bit of tinsel and a flashing light on top. When you take people out of cubicles that are the colour of stale oatmeal and expose them to cheap vodka and the Chicken Dance, weird stuff starts to happen.
One illustrious Christmas, a coworker's girlfriend locked herself in a powder room stall at the Sheraton all night after drunkenly blurting: "So I have to suck up to that guy if I want to work at the CBC?!"
"Subtlety was never my style"
I'm no innocent myself. Dumbed down by a shot or two of the demon rum, I once bellowed to a fellow named Gus that he was better-looking than his fiancée's description of him.
Subtlety was never my style. I was the type of gal who liked to cause a sensation at holiday fêtes by wearing sequinned mini-dresses, making out with my date on the dance floor and taking over the karaoke machine. (You can't lose with the B-52's "Love Shack.") While the brownnosers were busy setting up spring golf dates with the boss, I was whooping it up, shaking it down – and occasionally feeding Yule log to the cuter chaps on staff.
Hmmm. Why wasn't I promoted?
Nostalgia for office parties
When I finally ditched cubicle life and started working from home, I found myself pining for those parties every December. The sequins suffocated in dry-cleaning bags in my closet. The hot rollers shivered on a forgotten shelf. Life was cruelly sapped of scandal, and I had to find a way of getting my festive fix.
Vicky Velvet saved me. The sparkling, self-adoring siren is my alter ego and, I like to think, the world's most divine lounge singer. In spite of my, er, her, unquestioned status as the greatest living interpreter of the song "Makin' Whoopee," Vicky jets from Las Vegas to New Brunswick to croon at wedding receptions, Shriners powwows and sewage treatment conferences. She routinely tells Carnegie Hall, Air Canada Centre and Barry Manilow to get lost. Vicky is more interested in the really exciting gigs: office Christmas parties.
Behind the microphone
In becoming Ms. Velvet, I have discovered that the view from behind the microphone can be more entertaining than an animatronic James Brown doll under a Christmas tree. The party menu inevitably includes a big, gift-wrapped serving of gasps, gaffes and guffaws. You will always have at least one guy who gets too chummy with the Jack Daniel's and winds up belching, blaring and threatening to toss rum balls into the punch bowl. Two years ago, a crazed computer nerd made off with my maracas. A table of particularly hardy partiers once implied that Vicky Velvet should strip.
And then there was the mild-mannered manager who morphed into a maniac and got his Christmas jollies – and roasted his reputation – by attempting to grope poor Ms. Vicky in front of a shocked throng of merrymakers. Methinks he wasn't the brightest bulb on that company's tree.
Occupational hazards aside, being a Christmas diva is divine. At the end of the night, I go back to my velvet lair flushed with joy at the knowledge that Vicky has helped a bunch of strangers experience the peace, love and anarchy of the holiday season.
If only it weren't so hard to get rum ball mush out of my hair.
Don't know what to wear to this year's office party? Read our office-to-party fashion tips.
Jennifer Power Scott is a new mom and freelance writer, anticipating the start of the holiday office party season in her hometown, Saint John, N.B.