This is a story about a time that I almost got to experience the craziest party of my entire life.
But please folks, let me start from the beginning.
Last week, I flew down to Greenville, South Carolina for a work press trip.
You know: one of those trips where they invite you to the city to see all of the best activities and restaurants, and in exchange all you have to do is write about it.
If you’re thinking it’s a great exchange, you are right.
If you’re thinking that sounds really lonely, you are also right.
So after my first day in Greenville, a Tuesday full of sightseeing and shopping and interviewing business owners and eating way more than I even thought possible, I have to admit I was fairly unimpressed with the area.
Though it touts itself as a rapidly growing city, it’s still very small. It’s the kind of place where everyone walks really slowly, and they all stop at crosswalks until the light turns green even if there are no cars coming.
Then once it got dark, I hardly saw anyone out at all.
It was like a small town who dreamed of one day becoming a big city, but at this point was still just working at Subway just to get by.
When I was leaving dinner (at this place called FOXCROFT, I would highly recommend it, completely unrelated to the fact that I ate there for free. They have great food and a manager who blushes every time you talk to him), I strolled veeerrry slowly down the street. Even though I thought the town was kind of boring, going back to an empty hotel room at 8 o’clock at night sounded even worse.
So one block later, when I heard live music, it was like a beacon of hope and liveliness, inviting me in from the cold to enjoy the local festivities and prove that Greenville was in fact more exciting than I had given it credit for.
I followed a narrow staircase into this small, dimly lit bar full of townies and Bud Lights and wrinkled tattoos. It had neon signs on the walls and was the kind of place that somehow smelled like cigarettes even though no one was smoking.
I found a chair and settled in, soaking in the atmosphere and silently applauding Greenville’s nightlife. The people-watching was premium, a room infested by people who looked like they had never ventured out of the state of South Carolina – not for lack of resources, but because they didn’t see any reason to.
I started looking around at what drunken conversations I could slide into, when a woman approached me through the crowd and yelled something about a party.
WOW they sure are friendly here in the south! “Yeah!” I said to her. “It is a party in here!” (Kind of a lame one though, if I’m being honest.) I looked away, and she continued to yell to me.
The second time I heard her more clearly: “THIS IS A PRIVATE PARTY.”
Okay, first let me be clear that there was no signage whatsoever to indicate any sort of invitation-only event.
Second, no one else seemed upset that I was there.
In fact, she was evidently the only one who even noticed. And if we’re being real here, I was by far the youngest and cutest one in attendance…so some might even say I was doing the “private party” a favor.
But who was I to argue with a pushy, stranger-hating woman who was definitely either a Debbie or a Tammy or a Marge.
So I walked to the other end of the bar because I didn’t want to leave but frankly was tired of being yelled at.
But the woman followed me as I was trying to continue to listen to the gauche tunes of the high school Maroon 5 cover band and mind my own business and grace this lame party with my presence. “THIS IS A PRIVATE PARTY,” she said again, and started shoving (yes! shoving!) me towards the door.
And that’s when I realized that Debbie/Tammy/Marge 1) (related) definitely didn’t want me there, and 2) (unrelated) probably voted for Trump.
And had apparently 3) designated herself as the chief party crasher lookout, a job that she 4) took very, very seriously.
Seeing as she was obviously in a room with everyone she knew, I must have entered her radar immediately. Then the anger probably took over as she honed in on me, immediately transitioning from good-time-party mode to this-means-business mode.
After all of the work that these people put into planning the party. Picking the venue, reserving the space, and selecting only the most exclusive guests to invite. And you know that band, who played “Moves Like Jagger” like total pros, was very difficult to book (especially on a school night).
The nerve. A stranger who thought she could latch on to everyone’s good time. A stranger who thought she could make their private good time a good time of her very own. A stranger who thought she could sneak in here without anyone noticing. A stranger who thought she could make ALL of her friends jealous once they heard about this once-in-a-lifetime event that she managed to slip into.
“Ohhhh no you don’t,” she probably thought among all of those other thoughts. “You’re not gonna crash this private party. Not on Debbie/Tammy/Marge’s watch.”
Throwing all of her inhibitions out the window, she walked right over and made it vividly clear that this private party was devoid of both strangers and southern hospitality.
When we made eye contact, she looked at me like I had been planning this for hours. Like I had caught wind of this party, and had immediately started plotting my elaborate break-in. Finally, the opportunity to mingle with the Greenville locals – the real locals, the generational ones, not all those transplants that have been coming in for years ever since the BMW factory opened up.
My biggest mistake, apparently, had been wandering in timidly, leaving my coat on, and looking around aimlessly at everyone like I don’t know anybody. What was I thinking!
So, I did end up leaving after being forcefully kicked out of Greenville’s hottest Tuesday night soirée. And since there were no other parties in the area, private or otherwise, I ended up heading back to my empty hotel room after all.
I did, however, enjoy the thought of this woman’s sheer delight with herself for saving the party.
Telling all of her friends about the shocking incident that almost ruined their annual exclusive-yet-completely-unlabeled private event. She surely saved the party, because who really knows what strangers are capable of?
And in fact, considering all of the rampant party crashers out there in the world, it’s a good thing she had her hawk eyes tuned up.
And you know what, next time I throw a private event, I sure hope I have a Debbie/Tammy/Marge there too.