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Watch your step when partying with boss

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© St. Petersburg Times, published December 17, 2000

If you are reading this it means one of two things.

Either I survived another one of Boss' holiday parties without getting fired, or I got fired but it was after deadline time and too late to pull this column.

Call me overly cautious if you will, I am leery of the combination of company brass, even the middle management kind, alcohol and my mouth.

If anything saves me this year, as it has a time or two in the past, it will be the Atkins diet. Alcohol is a carbohydrate; carbohydrates are essentially verboten on the diet; and, if I behave, I may squeak by another year.

Funny, I always seem to be on a diet about holiday time. It's not that I'm a masochist, it's just that I lose weight every year and every year, when I go on vacation in late summer or early fall, I decide it will be okay if I cheat just the teeniest bit on the diet.

What follows, inevitably, is a total collapse of willpower that runs out, coincidentally, about the same time I run out of holes at the end of my belt and jeans into which I can squeeze myself.

So, unless somebody spikes the cheese cubes and the ham rollups, I just may get by Saturday night.

For those of you not similarly restrained, I have a suggestion or two.

They are, of course, pegged to a general audience and have absolutely no bearing on me or my relationship to the truly beneficent and stellar performing managers with whom it is my extreme pleasure to work:

For the rest of you:

Don't go.

If you go, don't drink.

If you go and drink and bring your own bottle, restrain from using phrases like "the cheap crap you drink."

Be sure the boss' wife is pregnant before asking her when she is due.

If you spill something dangerous or disgusting in the dip, stirring it in until it is invisible is not the correct way to deal with the situation.

Do not microwave, or offer to, the host's pets or small children. However, it is okay to offer to microwave the small children whose parents insist on bringing them to adult parties.

The intent of swimming pools this time of year is largely ornamental and, no matter how many shots of Goldschlager you have had, there is no requirement that you jump into it or push anyone into it -- especially anybody who can fire you.

Holiday parties are not a good time to discuss company policy or office politics.

Avoid beginning any conversations with superiors with the salutation, "You worthless slug . . .," and if your Christmas bonus was a turkey or a ham, try not to make any anatomical suggestions regarding its relocation.

Even though alcohol does make you incredibly sexy, desirable and witty, there will be those die-hard sticks-in-the-mud who think they can impress people by pretending to be immune to your charms. Spouses of superiors and the big guys who work on the loading dock seem to be particularly likely to engage in this behavior. It is a good idea not to waste your time on them.

No matter how drunk you get, avoid discussing your last acid trip. If you insist, you will notice everyone is looking at you through narrowed eyes, and there will be a plastic cup and a set of instructions on your desk on Monday morning . . . at least . . . er . . . that's what I hear.

If you did insist on telling the story the previous year and did find cup, avoid the urge to seek out the director of Human Resources (or whatever the personnel department is calling itself this year) and mentioning the cup and its contents in connection with their ability to do anything involving a boot with instructions written on the heel.

If you back into someone's car while leaving, and if that person is higher in the corporate hierarchy than you are, it is proper, although not always a good idea, to leave a note. Check for witnesses first.

And, seriously for a change. If you aren't in condition to drive, don't. It's warm enough to sleep in your car if you have to.

But, above all, have a wonderful time.

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