the best office holiday party date story of all time

Last year, someone shared what I consider to be the best holiday date story of all time, and it must be shared here again. Enjoy:

When I was fresh out of college, a dude in my social circle invited me to his fancy work Christmas party. He was a teacher, so I’d kind of assumed I was there as friend to act as a buffer between well-intentioned female colleagues who wanted to set him up with one another, with their daughters, etc. I was wrong! This invitation to a work Christmas party was meant to be the first date of a magical relationship between two people destined to be together. Why a magical relationship? When I opened the door, he said he’d hope we’d have a magical night leading to a magical relationship. Then HE DID A MAGIC TRICK. I was… startled.

The party was at a country club, where he drove around and around looking for a space while I said “they have valet. it’s only valet” over and over. Inside there was a coat check. He didn’t want to leave his coat–because there were additional magic tricks secreted inside. We went in, got our drink tickets and our seating assignment. I sat down at a table that was mostly single women several years older than we were. He offered to get me a drink, and I asked for a glass of any kind of wine. He came back several minutes later with a mudslide because girls love mudslides, because they’re chocolate and girls love chocolate. I don’t. But he tried! That’s sweet! Right? Over dinner, I tried to make that sort of general polite conversation people make around banquet tables with strangers. He kept jostling my arm to get my attention to show me another magic trick.

At the beginning of the evening, I really thought we were casual friends, but I was single and kind of open to dating this guy if we got on well. Maybe that hokey line was a story we’d tell our grandchildren! But it was becoming increasingly clear that this guy was Not for Me. That didn’t mean I wanted to embarrass him in front of his principal, though. I finally said something like, Would you mind terribly saving those for after dinner? I’m really interested in hearing more about Harriet’s begonias, aren’t you?”

He pushed his chair back and stalked across the ballroom to a piano. He plopped down and proceeded to pound out an assortment of sad pop hits. There was Muzak-y Christmas music, but he was gonna play the piano anyway. At this point, I was embarrassed to have come with this guy. My tablemates were embarrassed for me. One of them left and came back with the glass of wine I’d asked for initially. I drank it while the middle aged ladies at our table told me all about their various bad dates. More wine showed up. Then someone asked if I like martinis and brought a martini. Apparently none of them drank, and, as my date played “You’re So Vain” while staring mournfully at me, I drank my way through pretty much all their drink tickets. I am an effusively nice drunk person. I told each and every one of these women that they were beautiful angels shaping tomorrow’s great minds to recognize the power of sisterhood and human kindness. Or something to that general effect. My memory is a bit fuzzy, for obvious, gin-based reasons.

My date wanted to leave, so I went to coat check. I tipped the coat check person, and he reached in the tip jar to fish out my money. I thought he was going to pay the tip. Nope. He told me coat check is free. I said I know. I put my tip back in the jar and sidestepped him when he tried to help with my jacket. His department chair and her husband appeared and said that my apartment was on their way and they’d be happy to drive me. I told them they were “hashtag relationship goals” and made an actual hashtag with my fingers.

I was driven home by way of Taco Bell by these very nice strangers. A week later, the guy called to say his work friends loved me and would I like to go out again. I would not.

A few years later, a friend was telling me about a legendary party her school hosted before she got a job there. A girl nobody knew got plastered and told everyone she loved and appreciated them while her boyfriend played the piano at her and drowned out the Christmas music. I did not reveal my identity. Maybe there’re two of us? I hope there’re two of us.

{ 294 comments… read them below }

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I missed this last year but it is EVERYTHING. This is the absolute best got-drunk-at-work-event story I’ve ever heard.

      1. Yep, its true*

        Love this! I am “legendary ” as well. No details, but I was regaled with my story by someone who wasn’t born when the incident occurred. She’ s in her 30’s…. it still makes me laugh!

    1. CoveredInBees*

      I’d read it before, but missed the note that this was a rerun. It was like reading it for the first time all over again!

    2. Sweet Christmas*

      Same – this is the first time I’ve read this and I am so glad that Alison pulled it out of the archives. This deserves to make an appearance every holiday season.

  1. The Rural Juror*

    This is the laugh I needed today!

    I, too, have been misled and ended up on a date I didn’t know was a date. But nothing to this level…and the guy never had any magic tricks. Or melancholy piano tunes. All I got was the obliviousness to social cues. I feel cheated!

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I steered clear of a date without noticing once. The realization my coworker was asking me out hit me weeks later while preparing tea.

    2. SeluciaMD*

      Me too! It was also at a Christmas party and it was my good friend’s brother who had just gotten out of a very long-term relationship with a girl who also had my same first name. I thought we were going as a group (because I knew her brother pretty well, too) but discovered it was a date when they came to my apartment to pick me up – and my friend had a date in tow and was like “Surprise! Double date! This will be SO FUN.” Spoiler alert: it was not.

      There was definitely copious amounts of drinking (on both our parts) but while I was trying to drown my annoyance and just enjoy a nice buzz, his dissolved into melancholy (sans piano ballads) and then outright sobbing by the end of the night every time he said my (her) name. And I could. not. shake. him. He followed me around like a weird, dejected puppy all night but didn’t actually seem to want to ….talk? Or anything? It was bizarre. Thank god I lived in a big city and when we went to leave and my friend was like “isn’t tonight great? We should double again! Let’s go dancing after this!” I was able to very easily NOPE it on out of there as I flagged a passing cab home. I definitely dodged a bullet but it did not give me nearly as entertaining a story to tell years later!! I now wish mine had included magic – of any persuasion.

      So glad to revisit this during the holiday season! LOL.

    3. Esmeralda*

      Haha, I ended up on a date that I thought was just hanging out. But I ended up marrying the guy (still married almost 30 years later). No magic tricks, thank goodness.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        Haha from me too. I went on what I thought was a date but was hanging out with a group. We have been married for 31 years.

      2. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

        I went on a date that I thought was just a (admittedly gender-matched) group of friends going to a semi-formal dance. Together for 24 years and married 18 so far.

    4. Bryce*

      Worst for me was when I went out on a not-a-date with a friend and then when I got home my other friend told me “that was a date you fool” and I was second-guessing everything until she was next in town and I could confirm that, yes, it hadn’t been a date and that other friend was seeing things that weren’t there.

      I can be rather oblivious, and some folks think that means they have to look out for me.

    5. RoseDark*

      I ended up on a date I didn’t know was a date the other night! Sunday kind of sucked and I texted a friend who manages at a restaurant I used to work at, to ask if he’d be working on Monday so I could go get a drink after work without running into my ex who ALSO manages there. He said no, but he was free that night if I wanted to get a drink? I accepted, and my hazy subconscious was like “you should probably wear something nicer than the university t-shirt + bandana you’ve been slumming in all day” so I put on nicer casual clothes and by the time we’d finished drinking he admitted he’d wanted it to be a date and I was like “……….oh. uh. aight, I can.. swing that?”

      But there were no magic tricks or piano tunes. Just good old-fashioned charm. And being the loudest people in the bar. I’m so sorry, other people at the bar. We’re both naturally loud people, we are louder when we drink, and we are definitely louder when we are together. I would cringe harder if we hadn’t been drinking in a college town where “people with no social skills” are the everyday clientele.

  2. EPLawyer*

    Oh my. I missed that he was a TEACHER when I read this last year. What … spectacularly poor judgment for someone in charge of shaping young minds.

    If your idea of wooing someone involves pounding on a piano in public make sure the woo-ee likes such public spectacles first. Also don’t be cheap by FISHING OUT THE TIP to the coat check person.

    But heaven bless that couple who realized a bad situation when they saw one and stepped in to help. Hopefully Magic Man would have not pushed things, but given his general clueness and sulking when you didn’t want to play his games, it might have ended badly with no way for OP to protect herself.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          You know damn well they are still getting mileage out of that story. “Honey, remember the time we took that drunk girl to Taco Bell after Chad mournfully played the piano at her?”

          1. Le Sigh*

            Gawd, playing the piano at someone is such a specifically aggressive move, especially, “You’re So Vain.” I wish there was a playlist of that night.

            1. academic lab tech*

              It’s true! ‘You’re so vain’ is such an aggressive song to play while staring at someone! Maybe ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham would have been too much, even for him.

              1. KayDeeAye*

                No, no, no – great as those are, it really should have been “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

            2. Shan*

              I will never forget the time I got angry at some guy for blowing me off “because of his faith” after insistently pursuing me until he got what he wanted (sex), and received in response a long, ranting email that sounded oddly… familiar. He’d copied, word for word, big chunks of “Unbelievable” by EMF. Including the purple prose bit! Now I’m picturing him aggressively playing it at me on a synthesizer or something.

              1. MerBearStare*

                OMG, I’m dying! This is maybe the greatest thing I’ve ever read. And like you know that’s not the first time he did that.

              2. PeterM*

                Back in high school, when dinosaurs and parachute pants roamed the Earth, my cousin had to deal with a guy who was not dissuade by the fact that she had a boyfriend nor her increasingly less gentle statements that she wasn’t interested. He finally wrote her a letter that was just the lyrics to “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds, including the repetitive chorus. I haven’t talked to my cousin in awhile but I’m pretty sure she’s forgotten about this guy, but I sure haven’t.

                1. Dragon_Dreamer*

                  For me, nothing will top the idiot I dealt with last year. (Excerpt transcribed from the screenshots of text messages.)

                  Him: “Will you go out with me?”
                  Me: “Sorry, I’m taken.”
                  Him: “Damn. I see. Grrr…”
                  *Long period of silence*
                  Him: “Can I ask you a serious question? This is just curiosity wise so hopefully you won’t get offended.”
                  Me: “…”
                  Him: “I know that you have a very gorgeous rack and was wondering what size they are. Pardon my curiosity.”
                  Me: “… Sorry, but no.”
                  Him: “Fair enough. You know I’ve liked you for a very long time but it’s too bad we haven’t hung out really. Huh. You don’t need to be sorry that you found someone but it is what it is.”

                  … And he wonders why I stay as FAR away from him as I can. Sadly, it’s a small town, so that’s not always easy. The pandemic has been a blessing in that sense. Yes, I know I shouldn’t have been apologizing so much, but the guy has a history of being creepy and it’s easier than trying to argue with insane. Can’t get a restraining order unless he actually tries something.

                2. luvtheshoes*

                  I meet you your parachute pants and raise you some Aqua Net bangs that I had a mournful post break up letter that was the lyrics to White Lion “Wait”

                3. Filosofickle*

                  One the funniest songs is I Got A Man. We’ve all met this guy.

                  I got a man
                  You got a what? How long you had that problem? What’s your man got to do with me?
                  I got a man
                  I’m not tryin to hear that see
                  I got a man
                  What’s your man got to do with me?
                  I got a man
                  I’m not tryin to hear that
                  I got a man
                  Aiyyo baby put the dial numbers or your address
                  I got a man
                  I told ya I treat you right
                  I got a man
                  Aww c’mon now ain’t no future in frontin
                  I’m not havin it

    1. Le Sigh*

      Oh I think the piano-pounding was retaliatory for not being wooed by Mr. No-Self-Awareness’ magic tricks and realizing that her soulmate was right in front of her.

      And gawd, the tip jar. I once heard a friend make a joke to someone else along the lines of, “I bet you make change in the church plate, too.” There are just certain actions that scream “miserly cheapskate,” and fishing that tip out is one of them.

    2. RK*

      My SO used to be a teacher, and his performance doesn’t surprise me in the least. I don’t know if it’s a teaching-in-the-UK thing or the same across the Western world, but younger teachers, almost to a person, rarely behave better than their teenage students. Add in a workaholic culture and a LOT of alcohol, and presto, this story!

      1. Quill*

        You can tell the new teachers from the veterans so easily in this example… and every time the wine comes out, because pacing yourself is a skill that educators (hopefully) learn.

        1. coldbrewraktajino*

          It’s been almost a decade and I still remember the time I got too tipsy at my first teacher holiday party. (Luckily nothing this epic! Just a little gushing.) I was used to pacing myself at work parties where it was just my age peers; I think I was still so self-conscious that I drank to take the edge off?

      2. LibraryAdjacent*

        Ha! I was an exhibitor at a science educator event at the Museum of Natural History a few years ago, and when I got there the person checking me in gleefully handed me a strip of about 15 drink tickets (I was working, and had to haul equipment back to Brooklyn after so I ended up using a few tickets on seltzer and threw away the rest). The educators/attendees of the event each got ONE drink ticket. I was told by some of the other exhibitors that the STEM/educator events used to have an open bar but they had to cut them off because there had been INCIDENTS.

        1. Dragon_Dreamer*

          One department at a local school is no longer allowed to use the local Natural History museum for their events. One of the professors a couple years back apparently got drunk and punched an acrylic and mirrored sign hard enough to leave a nice sized hole in the wall behind it. I came in one day to find the sign missing, the brand new hole not yet patched. The story was related to me by the employee who works in that area.

      3. Sharrbe*

        I can confirm that. New teachers can make a lot of questionable choices. They all seem to center around alcohol.

    3. Old Med Tech*

      I really enjoyed reading this letter again. It is a classic, but I wondered the first time I read it if there was something off about her date (other than being totally clueless). Basically his boss offered the LW a ride home. I wonder if he was rehired for another year.

      1. academic lab tech*

        Good point! If his boss was concerned enough to intercede that doesn’t say great things about his work prospects. Especially as a teacher.

      2. Carlie*

        I would doubt he stayed long- otherwise it wouldn’t be a legendary tale about two unknown people, it would be that time Chad the 8th grade geography teacher almost got himself fired.

      3. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        The fact that the person who told her the Legendary Story didn’t know the guy playing piano…hopefully indicates that he’s no longer employed there.

      4. Cubicles*

        Me too. If I were in that situation, I would have been worried about being driven home by a guy who was overreacting so much because his date didn’t appreciate his attempts to woo her. Be disappointed it’s not going well, fine, but he wasn’t acting normal IMO. Wonder what ever happened to him.

    4. Lorena*

      This is truly epic and hilarious! I am thrilled the reader chose to share it with you and in turn shared it with us!

    5. Sara without an H*

      Yeah, I remember thinking when this letter first ran — the department chair and her husband were really classy people. And maybe they knew too much about the would-be boyfriend…

    6. Nice Try, FBI*

      I’m a teacher, and I missed that the first time around, too. It’s the story that keeps on giving.

  3. juliebulie*

    I’m so sorry I missed this story last year. It would make an excellent movie. Or perhaps one of those “mental hygiene” movies they show to kids in school. Older kids, like in college.

    (I have had some bewildering “oh, I didn’t realize this is supposed to be a date” moments before, but at least there weren’t any magic tricks. Or piano.)

      1. Uranus Wars*

        I know, I saw this last year (and read it multiple times), knew it was coming and STILL come undone at that part.

    1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      It’s literally my favorite part of this wild ride, probably because I could see doing it myself while tipsy.

    2. Violet Rose*

      As someone who is also an effusive, I-love-everyone drunk, I found that part #relatable ;)

      My crowning achievement is going around at the end-of-year dinner and telling everyone I appreciated them “AS HUMAN BEEEIIIIIIINGS.” No, I don’t recall why that last part was important, but my friends got a real kick out of it

  4. Clever username goes here*

    I’m surprised OP lasted as long as she did.. obviously a kinder soul than I am. I just.. no. Ugh. The poor guy must’ve heard about it for YEARS from his colleagues!

    1. Observer*

      Poor guy? No. Whatever else you want to say about the situation, he was not a victim or in any way in a bad situation.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Also, I’d bet a shiny button nobody ever mentioned it to *him* ever. He might have heard it second-hand, as LW did, but might not even have recognised himself.

        1. Naomi*

          Frankly, even it was a Hallmark Christmas movie, this guy would be the bad date OP would ditch for the actual love interest.

      2. Sparrow*

        Plus it sounds like he thought all of this was a good idea while sober! No gin-related excuses for him.

      3. Clorinda*

        I’m feeling some contact embarrassment on his behalf. I do pity him. He was learning the truth about life, women, and boundaries the hard way.
        It’s easy to pity him when you’re not one of the people he’s learning on, though!

        1. tangerineRose*

          He’s an adult and should have learned at least some of this a long time before this story! The piano playing at her sounds like his version of a toddler’s temper tantrum.

    2. Louise*

      I am wondering if this was before Uber/Lyft were popular options. But a fear of being trapped on a bad date is one of the reasons I would never let dates pick me up for the first few dates. (Safety was the number two reason.) I did break that rule for my first date with the person I ended up marrying.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        Truth. Unfortunately this was OP’s friend and she didn’t know it was a date! (Which, aghhhhhhh!)

    3. Argye*

      This is what I’ve always wondered. Did the Dept. Chair have a conversation with him on Monday? What did his colleagues say?

      1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        I’m comforted by the fact that the person who told OP the story as a legend didn’t know Magic Piano Guy

  5. pert*

    This is a Hallmark Christmas Movie except how it might play out in real life. Cheesy serenades and a surprise serious date that would lead to the rest of their lives together does not work the same way in the real world

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      In the Hallmark movie version, the boss couple would have a single son that OP subsequently fell in love with.

    2. Artemesia*

      Every time one of those public rants at a captive audience about the meaning of true love comes on in a Hallmark movie I am again amazed and wonder if it happens to people in real life. Both my husband would have noped right out of there if we were ever humiliated by a suitor like that. It is such an ugly thing to do to anyone unless you KNOW they are an exhibitionist and would welcome a proposal in public or a declaration of love at the work holiday party on the mic.

      1. Everdene*

        My very shy sister was proposed to at half time in a football match, in the middle of the pitch while the mascot looked on and did mascot things. She never even answered and the announcer shouted ‘she said yes!!’. Spoiler alert, he was an abusive, controlling &$=&÷€* and I eternally thankfully he is now an ex-husband and only wish he was just an ex-boyfriend.

        I have very little tolerance for big public displays unless you are absolutely beyond certain it will be appreciated. Her now fiancé proposed is a secluded beauty spot, just the two of them.

    3. Pipe Organ Guy*

      Something like this could have made quite an Italian opera buffa! It seems like the shadow side of a Hallmark movie.

    1. Sarahnova*

      Right?! I could totally get over the whole effusive-drunk embarrassment part. But they thought I VOLUNTARILY swapped spit with That Guy?! Oh, the shame.

      1. Julia*

        This is your story? I have to thank you for bringing me joy this holiday season. You have a way with words!

    2. SometimesALurker*

      I flinched when I got to that part! But, my read on it is that that’s just how the story morphed in the intervening years, but that the women at her table had caught on quickly to what was going on, and that’s why they all chipped in their unused drink tickets.

      1. Antilles*

        That’s more or less my read too. At the time of the party, it breaks down like this:
        1.) The people at the table definitely recognized they weren’t boyfriend/girlfriend, that’s why they got into the topic of terrible first dates.
        2.) The other people in the room just assumed that they were dating. Having brought a friend to a lot of formal events (including company Christmas parties), I’ve found it’s pretty much an instant assumption that you’re together; especially if it’s co-workers that you don’t exactly hang out with in normal times anyways.
        But then over the years, the story is told and retold and it shifts more into the second group.

        1. Nanani*

          This. Heteronormativity is one hell of a drug – any pair is assumed to be a straight couple unless proven otherwise.

          1. yala*

            My best friend and I took a Disney trip last year. We started just telling cast members we were cousins so they would stop assuming we were a couple.

      2. academic lab tech*

        It is interesting how these stories change! I wonder if the ladies at the table would have been more or less mortified for her if they knew it was a 1st date!

        Either way yeah, that was the worst part where it felt like both were slightly implicated by the re-telling, even though only one of them brought magic tricks.

    3. Ali G*

      Guys like this would have told everyone he was bringing his “girlfriend” because he totally expected they were going to end up together.

      1. coldbrewraktajino*

        I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out she was filling in the blank for a fake girlfriend earlier in the year.

  6. Monty and Millie's Mom*

    I love this story so much! And I love this letter-writer – she had and has such a great attitude about it all, even though the guy is CLEARLY kinda cringey! I appreciate that she didn’t make him a villain and doesn’t seem to harbor resentment toward him, while simultaneously being matter-of-fact about his behavior. Letter-writer, you’re kind of my hero! (Of COURSE there are two of you…..!)

  7. Canuck*

    I used to think my story of the guy who brought a prostitute to the Christmas party was the best story.

    No longer.

      1. Canuck*

        Not a ton to it unfortunately. He was a short, dumpy, overweight, nerdy, guy in his early 20s who was universally disliked because he routinely and publicly complained that his entry level job was well below what he deserved.

        He showed up to our rather conservative government Christmas party with a tall and shockingly endowed date. She was wearing ridiculously high heels and a dress that was made out of about two square feet of black sequins. He fed her lots of drinks, and she kept calling him by the wrong name.

        When he went to the bathroom, our ex-military CEO sidled up to her, explained it was time for her to leave as it was not that kind of a party, and politely escorted her (heh) into a cab. I’m assuming she was prepaid, as there was no fuss.

        He showed up to work on Monday saying his girlfriend went home early because she felt ill, and she was never mentioned again. He disappeared in the next round of layoffs.

        1. Canuck*

          …being polite Canadians, there was no big public drama. We just whispered and judged and marvelled at a human body that was about 50% silicone by weight.

    1. Yvette*

      You are just leaving it there???? Seriously!!!??? Are you new here? Spill!!
      (Or is it too identifying?)

    2. Sunrise Ruby*

      I’m joining the growing line of readers who want to hear this story. Pretty please, for all of us??!!

  8. Persephone Mulberry*

    I was surprised when this one didn’t make Alison’s work Christmas stories list earlier this month. I should have guessed it would get its own post.

    This is my very favorite AAM Christmas story, even more than the Hanukkah Balls.

  9. Former Young Lady*

    Can’t decide between “tells women what they want to eat/drink,” “plays unsolicited music at parties,” and “tricks you into going on a date with him” for the free space at the middle of the “This Guy Sucks” bingo card. Glad the OP got away.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      So much to choose from! There’s also “interrupts conversation to do magic tricks,” and “steals tips from coat check workers.” This guy is quite the charmer. Ugh.

    2. Double A*

      To be fair, it would not occur to me to ask for a Mudslide, but I would secretly be kind of stoked if one just showed up.

      1. Sasha*

        If somebody said “here’s your wine, and I also got mudslides for us both!” then yep great, let’s get the night started.

        Somebody says “I know you asked for wine, but I got you something I think is girlier, because you are a girlie”? Nope.

    3. TC*

      >> “tells women what they want to eat/drink,”

      I instantly cackled at that in particular since I have a friend who has a great story about a first date at a bar where the guy asked what she wanted, and she said a pint of [whatever] beer, but he brought her a half pint because she was a woman. Needless to say the date did not go well.

      1. Arya Parya*

        I ruined a date once by knowing more about beer than him. He just ordered a lager. I talked a bit to the bartender about what he had on draft. My date did not like that.

        Luckily I’m now with someone who loves that I also know quite a bit about beer.

    4. yala*

      Honestly, while the rest of this is funny, the whole “I got you something completely different than the food item you asked for because Women Love Chocolate” just makes me seethe. I honestly might’ve made a scene for that.

  10. Sarahnova*

    It’s the finger-hashtag which is really the killer detail. (I’m so glad hashtags were not a thing back when I was getting drunk.)

    1. Jane*

      This is my favourite too. I’ve re-read the story a couple of times, and have to finger-hashtag in sympathy when I get to that part.

  11. Rusty Shackelford*

    Hilariously, if you read the linked article about workplace holiday disasters, you get this nugget in the comments:

    my daughter hand made dumpster fire ornaments to give people to commemorate 2016

    Like, remember when we thought 2016 was awful?

    1. Elenna*

      hopefully 2024 will break the years-divisible-by-4 curse???

      (I don’t recall anything particularly bad in 2012, but 2008 was crappy for obvious reasons…)

    1. Dramamethis*

      Hmmm , and Howard worked for Caltech, although not a teacher. Haha.

      I hope this man eventually found his Bernadette .

  12. Sarah*

    I read this the first time it ran. I read this again when someone mentioned it in the comments earlier this month. I read it just now. I will read this every single time you post it, and I will continue to thoroughly enjoy it each and every time.

    1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

      Yasss me too. I also have started a tradition by sharing it to my friend group chat two years in a row.

    2. Green great dragon*

      Yes! This is the right plan to have.

      I remembered the story. Sometimes I think about the story. But the telling is superb. (‘Obvious gin-based reasons’ is the line I may steal.)

  13. Almost left with someone else’s limo driver*

    Last year it crossed my mind as a possibility, but this year I’m convinced that my senior prom date became a teacher and really stuck to his dating strategy.

    Magic. Piano. Complete inability to read the room.

    Glad the adult version of me was able to mitigate (exacerbate?) with alcohol. Alas, nobody spiked the punch at prom. I will forever have every excruciating detail singed into my memory.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That’s exactly what they are. I had one as my first legal drink, because what I really wanted on my 21st birthday WAS a milkshake and everyone insisted that I had to have something with booze in it because 21st birthday.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Haha, that’s the exact reason I had a brandy alexander on my 21st birthday. And then a real milkshake directly afterwards.

      2. Amtelope*

        Theoretically/classically, it’s vodka, Kahlua, and Irish cream, with an optional chocolate garnish. As currently most commonly served, it’s that plus a metric ton of chocolate syrup, possibly blended into a boozy milkshake.

      3. SMcG*

        So weird! I have literally never seen chocolate syrup added to a mudslide. I cannot explain this and have no excuse for myself. But wow, this crowd really cares about mudslides (and brandy Alexanders). You all are hilarious in educating me, thank you!

    1. irene adler*

      That was him being “sophisticated”. And for knowing girls love chocolate. Women too?
      He’s not gonna bring her a chocolate soda or milkshake. No, no. Those are for children.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        I would so love to icily intone “Mudslides are for children” at someone, but I don’t think I could maintain the appropriate gravitas!

      2. Elenna*

        I mean, I’m a girl. I love chocolate and mudslides (as well as other things, like sangria, Long Island iced tea, and sour Skittles). But I also have the good sense to BRING PEOPLE THE DRINKS THEY ASKED FOR instead of assuming I somehow know their tastes better than they do.

    2. IndustriousLabRat*

      My ex-bartender brain kinda froze on that one too. Basically a frozen White Russian but almost always served in a chocolate drizzled glass with a bunch of whipped cream. Never had to think about the Very Important Question here; is it a chocolate drink, or a kahlua drink with chocolate garnish…? If you drizzle chocolate on a cheese cake (not baked in), is it then a chocolate cheesecake? Ahhh I was having a dull afternoon and now have something to think about! :)

      1. Artemesia*

        reminds me of the humiliating first dinner with my future first inlaws and since my future MIL was a prig of the first order we brazenly ordered cocktails — and ordered brandy alexanders. In this particular restaurant they were made with soft ice cream with a hazelnut on top, so we were both flouting the disapproval of alcohol and also getting something that showed we were children or at least very unsophisticated drinkers. Felt like first class fools.

        1. This is She*

          That’s not a brandy Alexander. That’s not even a beverage! Are you supposed to eat it with a spoon? Mystifying.

          1. Sasha*

            It sounds like a brandy affogato, and I would totally eat one of those.

            (Coffee gelato with poured-over kalua is also amazing).

          2. Zoe Karvounopsina*

            That is the recipe in a cocktail book from A Fancy New Orleans restaurant, and my housemate hisses like an irate cat whenever she sees it.

  14. Mel_05*

    I must have missed this last year, because it is amazing and I would remember it if I had read it. Oh OP. You’ve made me laugh very hard. I hope there are two of you too.

  15. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I somehow managed to forget this story so it was a delight reading it again.

    Thank you, Alison.

    And thank you, OP, if you’re still around. I hope your holidays are magical.

  16. MusicWithRocksIn*

    I want to read the letter from this guy’s boss asking how you can nicely ask people not to play the piano at company parties. I also really wonder if anyone addressed this with him later. I bet they started warning all the new girls about him at least. His coworkers were so amazing about it.

    1. Lady Heather*

      When you say “don’t play the piano at company parties”, do you mean “don’t play the piano at company parties” or “don’t play the piano at company parties”?

  17. Frenchie too*

    This story is hilarious! You showed great restraint when your friend told you about the “legendary story”. I would have shouted “NO, he was NOT my boyfriend!!!!”

  18. Funbud*

    Truly beautiful. Re-reading this one really warms my heart. It’s the details that really make the story; her date fishing her tip out of the tip jar is classic! You can “see” the whole thing unfolding as you read it!

    1. All the cats 4 me*

      And there are so many layers to the tip jar:
      – he’s telling her what (not) to do
      – he’s wrong in what he is assuming she is doing (he thinks she thinks it’s payment for the coat check, she is tipping the coat check person)

      – he takes the tip from the jar, thereby
      – stealing the money from OP, because he thinks OP is paying the coat check fee, whilst
      – stealing the tip from the coat check person, while at the same time
      – revealing he’s too cheap to tip the coatcheck person (because HE KNOWS CC is no charge)whilst
      – revealing he’s WILLING to steal the tip from BOTH the CC person AND his date. In front of both of them.

      I think I could go on, but its turtles all the way down!

      1. Green great dragon*

        I think he returned the money to her (for she then put it back in the tip jar), but all the rest of the wrongness is right ;)

  19. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    Department head and her husband are the real MVPs here. * claps furiously *

  20. avocadotacos*

    Ahhh yes, glad to read it again. And to think my school is giving us sandwiches and hot chocolate, not a country club in sight!

    (obviously I am very thankful for the hot chocolate, sandwich, and candy cane they gave us. but I would also loved to have been witness to the scene described here)

  21. Lizy*

    Yep. Possibly one of the better stories on AAM anyhow.

    On the one hand, poor OP. On the other – the world sends a collective thank you for the best holiday date story ever.

  22. Managerrrr*

    I am dead! When I got to the “You’re So Vain” part, I laughed uncontrollably in my office. I really needed this today – thanks!!!

  23. sassypants*

    I remember this from last year, and I still read this again with the same anticipation as if it were brand new. This story is epic, and the OP is a wonderful storyteller as well. I really wish she would tell friend that it was her in the legendary story!

  24. PT*

    I’d love a follow up on what happened with this guy after: his behavior and poor judgment indicates he is not likely kid-safe. And eesh, what if he teaches at a high school where he’s close in age to the students? *shudder*

    I hope he was watched VERY closely after this.

    1. Red*

      What? A terrible date between adults doesn’t make someone a pedophile.

      This fellow acted terribly cringey and may rate Worst Holiday Date Ever, but that doesn’t make him a predator. Wow.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        Agreed. Many, many otherwise sensible people are struck dumb when it comes to relationships. One can be fantastic at their job but their personal romantic lives are a mess.

      2. Nicholas C Kiddle*

        Yeah, the worst risk is that if he’s teaching teenage boys he might give them the impression this is how to behave on a date, but he’s so cringey I expect they automatically ignore anything he says.

  25. Jean (just Jean) aka Am I Channeling Scrooge Today??*

    I don’t completely get the mirth. Yes, the guy was overbearing and obnoxious, and the crew of rescuers should all be greeted with crowns when they get to Heaven, but … the overwhelming loneliness of this fellow keeps tearing at my heartstrings. Even people who refuse to read the room (or the signals from their date) have an inner being that wants to connect with other people. I hope he was able to find a genuine relationship before he turned into a bitter, angry misogynist or worse.

    1. Nanani*


      I’m not sympathetic at all. It’s 100% on HIM to learn how to read people and what consent means and how to actually use his words to ask someone on a date. And it is not OPs or any hypothetical woman’s fault if the guy goes on to be a bitter misogynist.

      Women are people and do not owe saviordom to men.

      1. Jean (just Jean) who Apologizes for Dissing Other Folks' Religions*

        Nobody owes human salvation to anybody else, and I’ve done my share of blowing off Obnoxious Men! I’m just tenderhearted enough to wish that everyone could break free of their own shackles sufficiently to have a happy, or happier, ending.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Cheer up! I was, in my youth, quite clueless, romantically–not in the same way this guy was, but just as clueless, in my own way. I got better. I figured it out at around thirty years old. (It helped when I realized that there is a name for a certain type I found very attractive: this name is “lesbian.” Fortunately, it is not the only type I am attracted to.) I have been happily married for going on twenty years. This guy might have figured it out, too. Or he might have devolved into bitter misogyny. Either way, it is on him.

      2. Littorally*


        Does the guy sound lonely and awkward? Yes. But he also sounds like a royal pain in the ass. Ignoring a date’s request because he’s confident he knows what Women want, as opposed to what this woman wants? He doesn’t need a relationship, he needs a clue-by-four.

        1. Quill*

          He needs my high school drama department’s tradition of being assigned an older male mentor. When guys got assigned to an upperclassman they were informed that the relationship included giving them advice, stopping them from embarassing themselves, and kicking their ass if they decided to be a creep anyway.

          He desperately needed someone to tell him “no, this is the most cringeworthy date of all time, don’t.”

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yeah, I don’t think I’d have been able to resist the temptation to say something scathing in response to his getting me a mudslide instead of the drink I’d ordered because All Women Love Chocolate. Something like “obviously women are a hivemind, all exactly alike, and obviously YOU are an expert on women. Every woman everywhere.” With the clear implication that it’s sexist nonsense, and the the idea of a clueless loser like him knowing anything about any particular woman is especially laughable.

          But then, I have a particular rage reaction to men who insist on ordering for women in restaurants or otherwise take an attitude of “I know what you want better than your silly little ladybrain ever could.”

          (I mean, I am personally fond of chocolate, and a mudslide sounds delicious. But not every woman shares my tastes, and there are other things that “women” supposedly love to which I am indifferent.)

          1. Velawciraptor*

            You’re right about all of this, but he was also a moron on the chocolate front. Mudslides aren’t chocolate: they’re Kahlua, Irish cream and vodka. So even if he’d been right about knowing better what she wanted and the female hive mind loving chocolate, he failed at that task. (I know this is an utterly trivial point in the grand scheme, but it made me absolutely insane.)

            This letter is truly the gift that keeps on giving. It has layers.

          2. EvilQueenRegina*

            Even if she did love chocolate, she could have wanted something else in that particular moment, and this guy should have just accepted that and ordered what she actually asked for.

      3. M*

        100+ to Nanani. OP does not owe him anything, and it is on him to realize how he appears to others. He doesn’t deserve sympathy for being self-centered and obnoxious.

    2. Jean (just Jean) who Apologizes for Dissing Other Folks' Religions*

      My favorite holiday mishap remains the mashup, thanks to the flimsy, non-soundproof “wall” between two hotel meeting rooms, of the songs “O Holy Night” and “She’s a Brick House.”

      Would I be offended if somebody drove past the synagogue with car stereo on mega-blast level during the recital of the Kol Nidre prayer (the most serious prayer in Judaism, except for those involving funerals or the anniversary of a someone’s death)? Yes, I would. But a small corner of my soul would also rejoice in the collision of diverse life experiences. It’s possible to simultaneously be swept up in reverence for a holy moment and unhinged by blatant, if unintended, disrespect (e.g. pop music singers bellowing “hubba hubba hubba!”).

      The key here is that the disrespect has to be unintentional. Deliberate disruption is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

    3. TiffIf*

      The first lesson he needs to learn is taking others into consideration, otherwise he will continue to be lonely. It isn’t even “reading the room” when your date asks for something specific and you …bring them something else. It shows a basic disrespect for the other person. Until he can clue into that he will continue to have issues connecting with other people and that is all on him.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yeah, I used to be the only friend of someone who drove me absolutely up the wall until I just couldn’t take it any more and decided his lack of friendship was his own fault for frequently doing clingy, obnoxiously spoiled/selfish, or super creepy things. Playing with his crotch in public in front of my mother was the last straw out of many. If you do stuff like THAT, being Forever Alone is your own doing.

    4. SnappinTerrapin*

      Maybe this is uncharitable, but I do appreciate the humorous presentation of this story.

      On the other hand, I share your sympathy with the clueless fellow. I have far more sympathy for the woman who suffered through this ordeal, of course.

      It is possible to simultaneously sympathize to some degree with both parties. Any man who is honest will admit to some degree of cluelessness, especially in his youth and immaturity. After all, no man is born “suave and debonair.” Building relationships is a learned skill. Granted, some are privileged to have observed better examples than others, but we all have our learning curve. Some start out further behind, and some have steeper curves.

      I cringe nearly (but not quite) as much for his cluelessness as for her ordeal.

      Alas, there is a lot of bad advice out there for socially awkward men to draw the wrong lessons from. I can think of some men I knew back in the day who could have made some of these mistakes. And, yes, I understand why women would find it creepy. It is.

      I hope he learned better, and was able to build a healthy relationship. It would be a net negative for society to see him get worse.

      This does not imply that any other person, and especially any woman, is somehow responsible if he fails to learn and becomes a bitter misogynist. He is responsible for his actions and choices, regardless of how far behind he may have started.

      His self inflicted wounds are cringe worthy, as is the fact that he inflicted his bad choices on an innocent woman who had no reason to expect him to do so. There are distinct differences between the sympathy I feel for the two people at the heart of this story.

      I have to salute this woman for her dignity and humor in such a challenging situation. I especially respect the decency and humanity of the other people who shared their table and supported her.

      I really appreciate this story, on several levels.

    5. Hrodvitnir*

      He steamrolled her at every turn, actively wanted to stop the coat check getting a tip, and is unlikely to have learned the “women are people” lesson from this. No sympathy from me.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, that’s what I think too. He sounded like a jerk who just cared about his own feelings and didn’t really treat her like a person. I’m so glad the dept. chair gave her a ride home, or the ending might have been really bad.

  26. LKW*

    My three favorite elements to this story:

    1. He played “Your So Vain”
    2. The evening’s progression from date to “Person who must be protected from our idiot co-worker” – I love when people support other people.
    3. That she became a Legend – capital L. I hope one day to learn that she has finally told her friend the truth. Or that they bump into a co-worker who was there on that legendary night and the whole story comes out – including the fall out her date had to deal with. Because I want to know how that Monday played out so much. So much.

    1. tangerineRose*

      I’m kind of hoping the dept. chair called him into the office and had a long talk with him about acting like an actual adult.

  27. voluptuousfire*

    The best part is the guy playing “You’re So Vain” and staring mournfully at her. It reminds me of an article I read a few years ago. A guy was so lovelorn and wanted a woman he dated briefly (that dumped him. Shocker.) so much that he decided to play piano in the park until she took him back. I don’t recall how long that happened but he only stopped when someone punched him in the head.

    1. M*

      Honestly, a punch to the head is likely a perfect wake-up call that this sort of behavior is not attractive or endearing.

      1. Quill*

        IIRC he was disrupting sleep for half the dorm, someone marched out in insomniac rage and belted him right off the piano.

        1. Veryanon*

          I’m laughing just thinking about it. I remember doing some sleep-deprived rage marching in college.

        2. KoiFeeder*

          I’m frankly not convinced that keeping people awake wasn’t the object of the exercise- I just think he was hoping that the dorm would pressure her to take him back, not belt him in the head.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            You’re my kind of cynic. That tends to be the aim of collective punishment. And I’m glad they put the blame where it belonged.

        3. Gazebo Slayer*

          The most absolutely epic college dorm drama tends to result from loud noise that keeps everyone awake, in my experience.

  28. Veryanon*

    There are not two of the LW. This story is priceless. But man, I hope that dude got a clue at some point since this happened.

  29. IndustriousLabRat*

    This story gets funnier and more festive every time it pops up! I love the punch line. “I hope there’s two of us”. What a cherry on top of a hilariously-written tale.
    Reminds me of the punch line to that legendary story of the 30,000 autoreplies with reply- all; that crashed a university email server until IT finally mucked everything out, shut off autoreplies, and sent out an letting everyone know the OoO/ autoreply cascade was fixed. “But they missed one. Or more specifically, they missed TWO”.

  30. RaeofSunshine*

    One of my favorite AAM lines of all time is “Played a piano at her”. I don’t know why, but that just hits my funny bone the right way. Oooooof what a story.

    1. Phony Genius*

      This phrase has taken on a life of its own on this site. It’s even been repurposed at times, such as when somebody wrote in about a co-worker upset at their pregnancy, commenters said “you’re not being pregnant at her.”

      1. EchoGirl*

        Eh, I’m not sure if that’s what it is or not. The “they’re not {insert thing here} AT you” is something that’s gone around in greater society for a while. OTOH, given the prevalence of that phrase and the mentality it’s meant to address, I do think it’s hilarious that this is one case where no, he really was doing the thing AT her!

  31. Merry Christmas*

    I am so glad you shared this again. Somehow I missed it last year. The anonymous drunk lady did a great job writing it up.

  32. Colorado*

    I could read this a hundred time, OP – I love your writing style. Especially this…
    I told each and every one of these women that they were beautiful angels shaping tomorrow’s great minds to recognize the power of sisterhood and human kindness.

      1. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

        You would have loved it back some years ago when I was at Disneyland/California Adventure parks at Christmastime with my husband and some friends. We had dinner at California Adventure (where they have alcohol) and my friend A and I had a few light-up cocktails. We went back to Disneyland and were walking down Main Street, which was all lit up and decorated for Christmas, and A and I started getting sentimental, gushing about how beautiful everything was, and all of you are beautiful, and I love you, man. The rest of our party, who were sober, found the sight of me and A hugging in the middle of the street declaring how wonderful each other was to be highly amusing.

  33. Sasanach in the states*

    Coming from notoriously cheap parents (bringing homemade snacks to the movie theater instead of buying anywhere-type parents) I still cringe at remembering the many initial times I took advantage of “free” valet without even a quarter given to the poor attendant. It took an honest friend to call me on it – I had no idea. Growing up, we never went anywhere tips were expected, so it was very humbling to find out there is a whole tipping structure for services that I was never taught!

    1. TiffIf*

      Honestly? I wish we could do away completely with any expectation of tipping. If something is listed as free it shouldn’t be on the consumer to guess the etiquette when it comes to tipping. Just pay a fair wage.

      Of course this isn’t something that can be accomplished by stiffing people in the current tipping economy–that just hurts the people with the least ability to change the system. Generally I think top down change is less useful/less effective, but this type of change would have to be top down for it to ever work.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Exactly. Tips should be a little extra if someone does something especially nice, not what people have to be paid for a decent wage. But refusing to tip for that reason would be counterproductive in a downright cruel way.

    2. Lacey*

      Oh same! Not that I’ve ever been anywhere I needed to tip a valet, but there are many tipping situations I’d never encountered because my family just didn’t do those kinds of things. We tipped our waiter and for years I thought that was the only tipping situation around.

  34. Jules the Goblin*

    This is the BEST story, I hadn’t read it before so tysm for the repost!! I love everyone in this story — except obviously Sad Magic Dude — but seriously I was just cackling with delight once it got to the “and then everyone plied me with drinks” part <3

  35. Nora*

    There is a 937% chance this guy, at some point in his life, has had a picture of himself on a dating site featuring a fedora, an alarming mustache, and a caption including the phrase “m’lady.”

    1. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      “An alarming mustache” is a FABULOUS description, thank you so much for that!!!!!!

    2. voluptuousfire*

      I’d also add in another one of those pics he’s sporting a rayon button-down shirt with flames on it as Guy Fieri does and JNCO type raver pants, those huge wide-legged pants in the 90s.

      1. Red*

        I’ll see your fedora and bowling shirt, and raise you a wispy ponytail plus posing alongside one of those globes that is actually a bar cart.

        This Guy/Girl also runs in gaming circles. You need a high dex rating to avoid them.

  36. justpeachy86*

    Taco Bell – Proving that not all hero’s wear capes. #relationshipgoals indeed

    I loved this story last year and even more today.

  37. Nicki Name*

    This was my favorite holiday story last year and I’m happy to see it getting so much love again this year. May a team of sympathetic middle-aged ladies magically appear for all of us in our most awkward moments.

  38. Black Horse*

    I have read this story at least 5 times in the past year, and every single time I end up in silent, teary laughter. Sheer perfection!

  39. Sansa*

    YESSSS this absolute (and literal) legend of a story!!! the way every increasingly bizarre, hilarious detail builds to the apex of absurdity (the song choices! the hashtag! the Taco Bell of it all!!) is just *chef’s kiss*

    this is the best worst Christmas work date ever and i will fight anyone who suggests otherwise.

  40. Youngin*

    This is the greatest story of all time, and also could be a really funny script for a Christmas movie

  41. HR in the City*

    LONG LIVE this drunken christmas party story!!! I love this. We all must remember hastag and Taco Bell :)

  42. Anya the Demon*

    I have never really stopped thinking about the story. I have so many questions about that guy. Is he still employed at that school? What’s his deal? Did the letter writer ever have to see him again in their social circle? So many questions.

  43. Lisa Large*

    Love this story! Reminds me of an awkward date in college. Pretentious young man pulls out guitar to ‘serenade’ me…. He was very wealthy, had lots of lessons, but had absolutely no talent and was tone deaf. I pretended to appreciate his effort, but declined any more dates.

  44. AMT*

    I used to know a guy like this. He was also really into magic (why are they always into magic?) and always pulling out magic tricks at parties to everyone’s annoyance, although I’m not sure whether it factored into his romantic life. His schtick was planning elaborate dates and grand romantic gestures before the date-ee had the opportunity to get to know him. The summer I met him, he planned a long, involved date with a near-stranger involving flowers, dinner, a movie, and watching the sun set on the beach. Naturally, she cut it short and politely told him she wasn’t interested in a relationship. He later told me about a prom proposal he’d planned in high school in which he’d created an elaborate puzzle/mystery/clue-finding thingy *at Disneyland* and had even colluded with the poor girl’s *parents* to pull it off. It ended with her turning him down in front of Cinderella’s castle. I can’t imagine her embarrassment, let alone his.

    1. allathian*

      Some people seem to be incapable of feeling embarrassed, or they would learn the lesson from the first time things go south… Poor girl.

      But yeah, this story is one I pull out of the archives occasionally when I’m feeling a bit blah.

  45. Chaordic One*

    This was a great story! It ranks up there with David Sideris. It should be some kind of short film. Too real to be a Hallmark movie, not strange enough to be an episode of the twilight zone, but delightfully told and entertaining with a light touch. The ending where your friend tells you of the story in her new school is priceless.

  46. Katt*

    Man, I would’ve given dude the good-old Irish goodbye when he started torturing the poor piano. This makes for a much better story though!

  47. old curmudgeon*

    I read this aloud to my spouse as he got dressed this morning. He nearly broke a rib laughing – thank you, Alison, for giving this story the prominence it deserves!

  48. Erin*

    This will never not make me giggle. Just OMG. These women sound amazing, btw.

    I would love to know this guy’s take on the night, and how the outcome of the night impacted his dating future. Did he make some changes? Did he keep up with the magic & insisting on mudslides when his date asks for wine? Has this been successful for him?

    Also, bravo with the Taco Bell stop!!

  49. Renee Stueckle*

    OMG, I’d forgotten this one. THANK YOU for reposting. It’s a much needed bright spot in the middle of a crappy week.

    I love this woman.

  50. lolz*

    This is the BEST. Loved it the first time and every other time I’ve read it.
    So, so happy it was reposted on my birthday :-D

  51. Foxgloves*

    This post just makes me SO HAPPY. It really is the holiday party story to end all holiday party stories!

  52. SophieChotek*

    Although the one about the co-workers having to save their boss’ modesty (when she drank and got stuck? to the railing)…is also memorable….
    (Really felt bad for the boss though!)

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