Thursday, May 12, 2011

Down about getting dressed up

Dread news came today while I was in a meeting: the details of the company off-site in Bangkok next week.

It's not the team-building exercise that takes up a whole afternoon that I'm worried about. They're always excruciating, and having survived a ludicrous violation of health and safety on an anonymous beach three years ago, I'm confident of my indestructability.

It's not the prospect of spending a whole day in an conference room that will either be stuffy and airless or air-conditioned to death.

It's not even the news that there will be a six o'clock wake up call. I hope that what did for Descartes won't do for me.

No. It's the Organised Fun that fills me with despair. We've been instructed that for the gala dinner we should come as our favourite celebrity.

Our. Favourite. Celebrity. The cognitive dissonance is overwhelming my fragile mind.

Our. Favourite. Celebrity. I deliberately have no access to television channels. I don't spend my days getting excited about somebody I've never met who may or may not be having sex with somebody else I haven't met. I felt the square root of zero emotion when anyone mentioned the British Royal Wedding this year. "My favourite celebrity" is nonsense. I might as well have a preferred strain of E.coli.

So while the rest of the office makes gurgling noises and seems feverishly excited about dressing up as Lady GaGa or Prince William or a fictional character from a cartoon, I'm plunged into gloom and hatred.

I've nothing against fancy dress. I like fancy dress parties. You know, the ones you choose to go to, the ones with a specific theme, like "come as your favourite secondary quality" or "dress as your greatest intangible fear". You know, where it's not appallingly vague and non-specific, and doesn't suggest you have to be something you revile. And, you know, where you have a choice about attending.

Then again, it's a multinational company. I suppose you could claim somebody was a huge celebrity in your own country, and be unafraid of contradiction, but there will be enough Brits and Hong Kongers for that approach to be untenable. But what will constitute a celebrity? Why would I want to spend time considering that? Why would I want to take part in Organised Fun?

Alternatives, then:

Adolf Hitler. Mainstay of 'amusing' and 'ironic' chaps with greasy hair and no sensitivity the world over, easy (just draw on a toothbrush moustache, comb your hair and you're done), plus if called on it, you can claim you're Prince Harry. Downside: you can't claim it's unfair when people beat you to death. And mama didn't raise this boy to dress up as a Nazi.

Osama Bin Laden. On the positive side, topical with recent weeks' events, plus he has been on TV quite a lot in the last ten years, so perhaps he fits the bill, but it might be hard to get the costume through security. I could go as a celebrity Navy SEAL if they hadn't so selfishly avoided celebrity via anonymity... Then I thought about popping up to Sham Shui Po and purchasing an orange jumpsuit, but (a) most prisoners in Guantanamo probably aren't celebrities and (b) that costume might not go down too well with the Americans that run the company.

Somebody from Reality TV No good because it would require knowing what people look like, which would mean watching reality TV. Now, given how much reality TV there is, maybe I could claim that some random Z-list celeb from the fifth series of I'm A Baffled Weathergirl Get Me Out Of Here is famous for wearing crumpled t-shirts emblazoned with the logos of failed internet start-ups. But I think my honesty would make me incriminate myself.

Lady GaGa. Because nobody knows what she'll wear next, so I could build a pair of dungarees out of aluminium foil and bluff it. But to be plausible I'd need enough aluminium foil to take up my entire luggage allowance. So again, no.

So I think I'm going to wear a black suit, look miserable and if anyone asks who I am, I'll tell them Franz Kafka and go hide in the toilets. It'll be a trial, but I'll get through.


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