DAN’S APARTMENT — This minute will be my last minute at Dan’s dinner party.
As a longtime guest of Dan’s gatherings I have come to understand their identity, to comprehend the trajectory of their philosophy on canapés, muted jazz, and white wine served in Cabernet glasses. And I can honestly say that this dinner party, tonight, is the worst dinner party ever.
To put the problem simply, the interests of Dan’s guests continue to be sidelined. Because of Sheila. Ever since those two met six months ago at a peanut-allergy protest, things have royally sucked. Dan’s dinner parties have veered so far from the dinner parties I remember, the dinner parties I’ve been attending since graduating college, that I feel I have to take a stand. I can no longer say I believe in Dan’s dinner parties.
Maybe it will surprise the communal-supping skeptics, but Dan’s dinner parties used to be convivial, positive, satiating affairs. The host had integrity, the guests were humble. Everyone worked together—teamwork, is what I’m saying! All of this contributed to the culture of Dan’s dinner parties, a culture that was integral to their success. It wasn’t just about having you over and feeding you so Dan could feel like the cool, sophisticated “dinner party guy”; that kind of attitude won’t sustain a dinner party for long. It was about pride. And belief. I no longer have the pride. Or the beef. I mean belief.
This wasn’t always so. In fact, for years I recruited potential guests. I mentored them in the ways of Dan’s dinner parties, taught them about timing their witticisms and refilling their drinks on the sly. I even appeared with Dan in YouTube video-invitations for “Thanksgiving in April, 2K9,” “Ain’t Nothin’ but an Oyster Partay,” and “Fishes, Bitches!”
But I knew it was time to leave when I could no longer look fellow diners in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to eat for free.
When history books are written about Dan’s dinner parties, maybe they’ll say that the current chief executive officer, Dan, just couldn’t hold it all together. But I know it’s Sheila’s fault.
Sheila changed the culture of Dan’s dinner parties. Oh, I’m sorry, what was that, Sheila? You work at an NGO that provides mosquito nets to homeless Cajun children? Thanks for mentioning it again because I missed it the first 90 gazillion times. What? You’re reading a book about vampires. Wow. Sure! I’d love more of your shitty tapas!
Before I continue, I should probably go all résumé on you. I attended Yale on four occasions for all sorts of different reasons. I have had the privilege of giving dinner-party advice to several friends, one of whom is really into dressage and hosts dinner parties, like, three times a week at a minimum. I also won my middle-school geography bee, which isn’t really related to dinner parties but is one of the proudest moments of my life and I didn’t get there by taking shortcuts or letting Sheila fuck up the menu because she can’t digest chlorophyll.
Anyway, what I’m saying is it’s been a journey. I wasn’t always such a banqueting baller. Once at a dinner party, when I was just a first-year guest, I didn’t know where the bathroom was, so I just sat there at the table and pooped my pants. But over time, I was taught to care about learning the ropes, and gradually I did learn them. The ropes, I mean. Dan taught me that—about the ropes, and politely inquiring about the bathroom and excusing oneself to defecate.
Those were better days. Today sucks. This dinner party sucks. Sheila’s drunk friend just called me a “muppet.” I’m so out of here.
Liam Julian is leaving Dan’s dinner party right now.
(This is a lampoon of “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs,” which you can read here.)