The dreaded spousal Christmas party

I cannot be the only person who dreads attending her spouse’s company Christmas party. Let’s face it; enduring your own event is one thing. At least you know who your friends are and whom to avoid. When the party is for your spouse’s company, it is a whole new ball of tinsel.
Once upon a time I loved Christmas parties. Mind you, I was a 20-something who could dance all night and looked fabulous in a short dress (or so I tell myself). My husband, the Carpenter, was the boyfriend I dragged to such occasions. He was a blue-collar boy looking like an itchy monkey in a tie, and in about as good of a mood for having to endure hours of awkward small talk. I was proud to introduce him to my friends. I was crazy about him. Still am. I like to think he feels the same way (cough), hence the phobia of the spousal Christmas party. What would his construction crew think of me?
Call me paranoid, but these are the things I think about. Don’t you ever wonder what your spouse says about you to his workmates? In the macho world of construction, I can assure you they don’t talk about life quite the way they do around the politically correct water cooler in an office. Construction workers don’t have cubicles personally decorated with pictures of their kids, dogs and lovers. Un-uh. The only thing posted in the lunch trailer at a job site is the SunShine Girl. That ain’t me.
The Carpenter’s crew knows me only as the crazy woman who calls his mobile phone at inappropriate times, like during crucial concrete pours or when he’s barking orders and really shouldn’t be distracted with news of a sick child or banking issues. And that’s just their preconceived notions. I wonder what he says about me in general. Does he complain about my cooking (like, if I did cook, I mean) or that I publish details of our married life in a local newspaper?
Cut to last weekend. Party time. Despite lessons with a certified make-up artist, my attempts to don cosmetics had me resembling something between a paid escort and meerkat with red painted lips. My outfit consisted of recycled clothes from various phases of my life, none of which were cool fashions the first time. Ugh.
The Carpenter didn’t seem to notice if I looked good or bad. He was smart enough not to say I looked good, because he knew I’d argue or burst into tears, so he chose a far more treacherous option; he said nothing at all. It was a quiet drive.
I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the route, I got over myself. I remembered what really matters. I had nothing to prove. The Carpenter, for reasons I may never fully understand, seems to still want me around. Because he’s a man, he’s never going to tell me what those reasons are. He will always assume I just know. But the point is, there we were, together like we’ve always been, and boy, we’ve come a long way. I still can’t wear make-up and he still looks itchy in nice clothes.
But we never try to change each other. We are happy in the choice we made in each other. My vanity insanity was totally, well, in vain. We entered that party hand in hand. Good enough. Cheers.

Kelly Waterhouse