Your party invitation has been received, but cannot be processed on the basis of the limited information supplied. Please complete the following supplementary questionnaire, using additional blank sheets of paper as necessary, and return the entire packet within 5 days using the included self-addressed, stamped envelope. You will receive a final decision by mail after your responses have been processed. Again, the final decision will come by mail. If you try telephoning to expedite or circumvent this procedure, I will probably panic and hang up on you.
Here are the questions:
- How many guests are expected?
- What is the square footage of the party area?
- If you divide the total square footage by the number of expected guests, what number do you come up with? This is the square footage allotted per guest, and should give an idea of how much personal space I can expect if people don’t move around a lot.
- This isn’t one of those parties where people will move around a lot, is it?
- At the site of the party, are emergency exits plentiful and unobstructed?
- Will I be considered rude for claiming the square footage nearest an exit and glaring at anyone who, even without meaning to and only for a moment, blocks my path out?
- Of the people you’ve invited, how many were invited before you thought of inviting me? Please explain why.
- Do any of your invited guests pride themselves on telling it like it is, where “telling it like it is” means parroting the talking points of a major television news or talk radio network?
- Could anyone who will be in attendance be described as “large and in charge”?
- Have any of your invited guests been known to complain loudly about “those people” to anyone who will listen? (Note: Does not matter who, particularly, “those people” are.)
- On a scale of 1 (not at all) to 10 (extremely), how concerned will guests be with whether other guests have found Jesus?
- How many of the people not talking about Jesus will talk, instead, about The Universe?
- What percentage of your guests enjoy watching and discussing daytime television?
- If I inadvertently roll my eyes at every mention of Dr. Oz, will anyone be offended?
- Are any of your guests excited to be in on the ground floor of this great new business opportunity that sounds like a pyramid scheme but isn’t because [elaborate, rehearsed explanation]?
- Has anyone adept at making photo slideshows been on a big trip recently?
- Will there be a house pet available for sitting quietly beside in a corner or playing fetch with in the backyard?
- Is the pet so new and adorable that others will also be interested in him or her, striking up conversations on said adorableness? Or is the pet so familiar and unremarkable that I will be able to visit with him or her undisturbed?
- Will you have any furniture assembly or bookshelf organization tasks available for me to busy myself with if the pet wanders off to take a nap?
- Will there be children to interact with when I tire of adults?
- Will the children be issued any noise-making gifts as party favors?
- If so, are you well-stocked in ibuprofen?
- If I make it known that I don’t drink, how many times will I be asked to drink?
- If I persist in not drinking, how many tipsy people will use my shoulder to steady themselves as the event wears on?
- Are any of your guests known for their (allegedly) infectious cackles?
- Will there be a kindly older man present to shake his head at the things that younger people are doing and/or getting excited about these days?
- If you have not invited a kindly older man, may I fill that role?
- Have you set aside a designated, soundproof area for the discussion of sports?
- If the party is a potluck, will a full report on the kitchen cleanliness and food safety standards observed by all contributing chefs be made available upon request?
- Will you be serving any hearty meat or legume dishes?
- If so, how many bathrooms are on site and at what velocity do the toilets flush?
- Is the plunger that I’ll inevitably require positioned somewhere near the toilet, or will I have to compose myself, barricade off the bathroom, stumble through the party, and interrupt your conversation with a guest to inquire as to its whereabouts before watching you climb around in your garage to find it, all the while hoping no other guests have made it past the barricade and flushed the toilet?
- It’s a good, strong plunger, right? Not one of those cheap ones that people without actual toilet-clogging experience buy just so they can say they have a plunger?
- If cake will be served, how proficient is the person blowing out candles at issuing a strong, continuous stream of air without spittle?
- If cake will be served, how thin and floppy are the plates you’ll be serving it on?
- Should a piece of cake fall from an insufficiently rigid plate, how many people will make a “five second rule” quip and think themselves terribly original for doing so?
- What kind of cake is it, anyway?
- Have you properly matched the density of the cake to the quality of the plastic forks so that we won’t have to worry about cut-rate tines snapping off and causing people to choke?
- In the event that someone does start choking, will anyone present be certified in CPR? I’ve been meaning to learn, but am waiting for them to come up with a method that doesn’t require touching people.
- Do any guests have dietary restrictions they enjoy mentioning at every opportunity?
- Do any guests consider themselves proficient on an instrument small and portable enough to be brought along to the party?
- Do those guests know “Wagon Wheel”?
- If party games are planned, have you made sure to invite plenty of people less coordinated than me so as not to fracture my already-fragile sense of self-esteem?
- What are the odds that my attendance will be reflected in a Facebook photo album?
- If I untag myself in any Facebook photos that appear, will people remark on this fact openly or just secretly hold it against me for years to come?
- Are you sure you meant to invite me? Perhaps you meant to send the invitation to a different Chris Wilcox and are now too embarrassed to say so?
- Have any other prospective guests sent in questionnaires? In my experience, people like that are almost impossible to interact with at parties.
On second thought, I’ve given myself a headache just wondering about all this. I will be unable to attend.