Saturday was my company's New Year party. Yes, you did read that right. In Japan, they're not done with endless Christmas parties, once the new year has finally arrived, it's time for more.
Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it enough to be stuck making awkward small talk with colleagues once a year? We really need to do it all again in January? Luckily, thanks to the need to entertain students, we didn't have a work do at Christmas, we only had to go through it once.
Now, don't get me wrong. I actually really like the people I work with. They're all lovely people who also happen to be very good at their jobs, and the atmosphere at work is always one of relaxed productivity. I enjoy the idle small talk and discussion of whatever we've read in the newspaper that's supposed to be for students' use. I love it when I make a work based BFF, but I don't really need to be best friends with the people I work with. As long as everyone is getting along, and I don't have to get over my fear of confrontation in order to get my job done, I'm happy. Hence my suspicion of "obligatory fun".
But this is Japan, and, although I strongly suspect that every single one of the eight of us present would have rather have been anywhere else, we all dutifully showed up at an Izakaya to eat and drink our money's worth.
You know it's an "obligatory fun" party when everyone goes home after the two hours covered in the "All you can drink" offer is over. And I truly wish I was kidding.
While I've definitely been to worse parties, you'd think a group of conversation teachers could do better. For the reigning Queen of social awkwardness, I actually did pretty well. As far as I know, I didn't insult anyone in the course of the evening. And yet, it was a vaguely uncomfortable evening somehow. I think some were visibly enjoying it more than others. In the end, someone mentioned a You Tube video and the I-Phones came out. I'd never used an I-Phone before (Did I hear someone say Luddite?) so that part was quite cool. I also hadn't seen the homeless guy with the golden voice video, so that was also cool.
When I came through the door at 9.30 Roomie expressed her surprise at my early return. My only explanation was that my current workplace is populated by adults, who go home at a reasonable hour, instead of the drunken retrobates I used to work with (or was that just me...). So, we settled down to watch Arashi and raid the fridge.
And to be fair, it was nice to wake up at a reasonable hour on Sunday morning, feeling fresh and clear-headed.
On the other hand, I'm off to my friend's New Year party this week (less "obligatory fun", more any excuse for a drink), and as the last time we had a party (I believe it was a Christmas/housewarming, but, as I say, any excuse), I got home at an unprecedented 3.30am, I can't promise clear-headedness next Sunday.