Thursday, January 14, 2016

Let's Preserve Our Fear of Irrelevancy in Tupperware

[Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Though I did once get caught in a vicious Tupperware party cycle, the reality bears little similarity to this post.]

When a coworker at a new job invites you somewhere, the invitation is known by both parties to be more than a single event linking both calendars. The invitation at this early stage carries a heavy weight that will degrade over time and across subsequent invitations, with a radioactive half-life that can only be measured qualitatively. Even if this coworker is someone you placed in the “not for me” bucket immediately upon first-day introductions, you make a concerted effort to attend this first invited event. Even if the event is a Tupperware party and you’re newly married and already self-conscious about your impending irrelevance, the evanescence of youth, and the many symbolic deaths this event will bring to your psyche, you make a concerted effort to attend.

The intangible invitation hangs over me in the week after its acceptance, and the tangible one—designed in Microsoft Word with the heavy employ of Word Art and Clip Art and other things that take the word “art” in vain—hangs literally over me as well, from its position on my cubicle wall, tacked there with industrial-strength push pins: “TUPPERWARE PARTY.” The thing is pathetic in its over-accommodations—the address is listed above an intricate description of how to get there “from the east,” “from the west,” and “from the north,” below which is a set of instructions for making your way from your car to Unit 12, which all but requires a set of walkie-talkies and the mastering of a secret language. We are instructed to park not in the front or the back, but “on the side, where you’ll see a dumpster and an abandoned bicycle.”

“Arrive any time between 12 and 1!” it says. “Bring a friend or two (or even three!)” it says. These sad panderings are surrounded by cartoon stacks of plastic containers—purple and green and blue, all with lids artfully askew. At the bottom is a thumbnail photo of Peggy Nielsen, 23-year Tupperware Consultant. Peggy’s hair is a gray-brown cloud of self-satisfaction. Her teeth are the only border separating cheek and chin and mouth, her lips having curled inward over time like the slow, osteoporotic warping of a spine. She looks like a Simpsons character.