Surviving the dinner party from hell (part one: seating)

For the love of god, where should you sit? Get it wrong and you’ll want to stick spoons through your eyes and into your brain

It’s dinner party time, you’ve completed the 20 minute hug-a-thon, chugged half a bottle of wine and now you’re ready for some serious gustatory action.

But wait. Wafting from guest to guest with drink in hand is all good fun, but soon the host will announce that dinner is served and you will be faced with the unparalleled horror of deciding where to sit.

The dreaded moment arrives. The group approaches the table. Some surge forward eager to control their fate while others hang back, desperate not to be given a choice and so reveal their friend preferences.

There follows a butt-clenchingly awkward pause as the guests hover around the table and consider how to navigate the social minefield. They shift from foot to foot, take a drink, turn to a neighbour and begin vapid conversations in a bid to delay the inevitable. Good pals eye each other coyly, half wanting to sit together, half hoping to get a break from the tedious familiarity of each other’s lives.

The stakes are high. Get this right and you’re in for an evening of sparkling conversation and high grade lolz, get it wrong and you could be strapped to a self-obsessed / socially inept / intellectually moribund gimp until the last piece of raspberry pavlova is swallowed.

And so it begins. The Social Pariah leaps into the central seat, instantly striking out the ones either side and opposite him.

The Personal Space Invader sits down too, making the adjacent seats as appealing as a fork in the crotch. 

Fun Guy sits and immediately the seats around him fill. You start to panic. Should you take the end seat? But that might look self-important and now it’s taken by the Egomaniac anyway.

The longer you wait the more risky the gamble. Your heart rate triples, your palms sweat. The Freeloader grabs a seat, along with a handful of olives and helps herself to more wine.  

The seat nearest you is free but it’s next to the Braggart and you’re not sure you can feign admiration for more than fifty minutes this evening. You want to move away but you don’t like to offend. You move away.

Your options are limited now. You close your eyes, take a deep breath and plonk yourself down. Squinting around your heart sinks as you see the Gasbag, the Tanked and the Screen Monkey grinning at you inanely.

There are three seats left, including the one to your left. A cold, dawning self-awareness clutches your gut. Are you boring too? Grating? Self-obsessed?

You smile winningly at one of the remaining standing guests who is hyperventilating with anxiety, but they avoid your gaze and take a different seat. What did you ever do to them?

Then everyone is seated and the chair to your left is the only one that remains empty. Heat travels up your neck and face. The host announces that the Latecomer is, as expected, late, and will be occupying the seat next to you in around an hour.

The flow of wine resumes. You hear a deep intake of breath as the Gasbag prepares to regale you with a 45 minute Brexit monologue. You are locked in for the next two hours. You try to arrange your game face but it falters and you look constipated.

You poke at your caprese and are only vaguely aware of phrases like “remoaners talking down the country” and “they need us more than we need them” glancing off your consciousness.  You nod and try to eat but your appetite has upped and left along with your will to live. It’s going to be a long night.

Want to know how to survive a dinner party from hell? The Trashy is preparing a guide. Watch this space.

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