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Parties: A Hymn of Hate by Dorothy Parker | Poets.org

Parties: A Hymn of Hate

by Dorothy Parker

 

I hate Parties;

They bring out the worst in me.

 

There is the Novelty Affair,

Given by the woman

Who is awfully clever at that sort of thing.

Everybody must come in fancy dress;

They are always eleven Old-Fashioned Girls,

And fourteen Hawaiian gentlemen

Wearing the native costume

Of last season's tennis clothes, with a wreath around the

neck.

 

The hostess introduces a series of clean, home games:

Each participant is given a fair chance

To guess the number of seeds in a cucumber,

Or thread a needle against time,

Or see how many names of wild flowers he knows.

Ice cream in trick formations,

And punch like Volstead used to make

Buoy up the players after the mental strain.

You have to tell the hostess that it's a riot,

And she says she'll just die if you don't come to her next

party--

If only a guarantee went with that!

 

Then there is the Bridge Festival.

The winner is awarded an arts-and-crafts hearth-brush,

And all the rest get garlands of hothouse raspberries.

You cut for partners

And draw the man who wrote the game.

He won't let bygones be bygones;

After each hand

He starts getting personal about your motives in leading

clubs,

And one word frequently leads to another.

 

At the next table

You have one of those partners

Who says it is nothing but a game, after all.

He trumps your ace

And tries to laugh it off.

And yet they shoot men like Elwell.

 

There is the Day in the Country;

It seems more like a week.

All the contestants are wedged into automobiles,

And you are allotted the space between two ladies

Who close in on you.

The party gets a nice early start,

Because everybody wants to make a long day of it--

The get their wish.

Everyone contributes a basket of lunch;

Each person has it all figured out

That no one else will think of bringing hard-boiled eggs.

 

There is intensive picking of dogwood,

And no one is quite sure what poison ivy is like;

They find out the next day.

Things start off with a rush.

Everybody joins in the old songs,

And points out cloud effects,

And puts in a good word for the colour of the grass.

 

But after the first fifty miles,

Nature doesn't go over so big,

And singing belongs to the lost arts.

There is a slight spurt on the homestretch,

And everyone exclaims over how beautiful the lights of the

city look--

I'll say they do.

 

And there is the informal little Dinner Party;

The lowest form of taking nourishment.

The man on your left draws diagrams with a fork,

Illustrating the way he is going to have a new sun-parlour

built on;

And the one on your right

Explains how soon business conditions will better, and why.

 

When the more material part of the evening is over,

You have your choice of listening to the Harry Lauder records,

Or having the hostess hem you in

And show you the snapshots of the baby they took last summer.

 

Just before you break away,

You mutter something to the host and hostess

About sometime soon you must have them over--

Over your dead body.

 

I hate Parties;

They bring out the worst in me.

 

 

About This Poem

"Parties: A Hymn of Hate" is one of Dorothy Parker's nineteen satirical, free-verse "Hymns of Hate." Parker's other topics include men, women, relatives, movies, books, summer resorts, and actors.

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