Afternoon InquisitionReligion

AI: Party People and Expectations

After my freshman year at UT Austin, I lived off campus and walked or rode my bike to school every morning. As a sophomore, the path from my house to campus took me past the Presbyterian Seminary that stood near the university. Every morning, as I went by, I could smell whatever they were cooking in the seminary dining hall, and being a poor college kid with limited cooking skills, I wondered how I could get in on that.

Well, one day, I smelled chicken frying, and I couldn’t take it anymore. So I walked to their admissions office and asked if I could get a meal plan there. And they said, “Yes”!

So for a little over a year, I ate breakfast and dinner everyday with the seminary students.

Now, I became friendly with most of them, despite the fact that I didn’t share their views on religion, but I didn’t really hang out with them beyond the dinner table. Well, on Halloween, a couple of the guys came up to me at dinner, and said I had to come to their Halloween party.

Well, this was Austin on Halloween! Did I want to spend it with a bunch of Presbyterian seminary students? No. I didn’t really want to, but to be polite, I agreed to stop by and make an appearance.

And oh their god!! I’m glad I did! The party was off the hook!

Instead of a jack o’ lantern, at the entrance, they had a fire burning inside a real longhorn’s skull that sat atop a man’s body that was holding a bloody butcher knife in each hand. Inside, the girls were scantily dressed, and they had ice chests full of booze and kegs worth of beer. The music rocked, and they played these drinking games where articles of clothing came off and all sorts of other fun stuff took place.

It was a complete surprise to me. But I suppose the fact that these people were about to turn their lives over to the lord motivated them, and it was one of the funnest Halloween parties I’ve ever attended.

Have you ever been similarly surprised? Who have you encountered that’s gone against your expectations? What, in your view, makes the best party?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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  1. Have you ever been similarly surprised?

    I had never been to a bachelor party before so I was slightly surprised when the strippers showed up and people started acting faux-crazy. I knew that these sorts of things happened, but I didn’t know my friends were into it. I made a hasty exit.

    What, in your view, makes the best party?

    The most memorable parties have 6 to 8 people, good food and wine or beer, and interesting conversations that never seem to stop. A good role-playing game sometimes helps. Sometimes it doesn’t. Depends on the crowd. The bonus in my single days is when I got to chat up a girl into the wee hours.

  2. You gotta love a seminary that has the slogan “Nothing comes between me and my Calvin” on its homepage!

    Glad you found yourself in a PC(USA) seminary party and not a PCA one. I’m a PC(USA)’er and I suspect PCA seminarians might have come a lot closer to your prior expectations.

    As to people going against your expectations, I will admit that I can still find myself startled by how well-educated someone with a thick southern accent can be. I know it’s a horrible stereotype, but a thick southern accent translates in my brain to “hillbilly”. I’m getting better at not making that assumption, but it still trips me up every once in a while.

    As a parent of young children, I find that a good party is any one that does not involve children and inflatable bouncy equipment.

  3. One of these days I’m going to learn not to skim. What I read was:

    @SteveT: As to people going against your expectations, I will admit that I can still find myself startled by how well-educated someone with a thick southern accent can be.

    @Sam Ogden: @SteveT: Well, sometimes inflatable bouncy equipment can be fun.

    This was equal parts saucy and nonsensical.

  4. That sounds like an awesome surprise. I’ve been to a few really good parties, and what usually makes them good is people’s attitude. If you’re there to have a good time, it’ll usually end up that way.

  5. I was surprised during my college days in Boston to discover that the MIT guys seemed to have the most raucous good frat parties. Wouldn’t’a thought it from a bunch of supposed geeks.

  6. I went to a fairly conservative xian college. Good academics but the culture never did sit to well with me or many of my friends. One night a few of us went to a small neighborhood tavern on the opposite side of town to play pool, drink beer and eat nachos. While at a corner table we all looked over and saw one of our professors come in with a friend, get a pitcher of beer and start playing pool at another table. We avoided eye contact for the most part but one time I looked over as I raised my glass and saw the professor also raising his glass and looking over toward me. We nodded and drank out beer. Had a few more classes with him over the next year and many conversations, but never about beer or pool.

  7. Can’t recall ever going somewhere that I thought would be a waste of time and having it turn out otherwise. Perhaps I just bring the negative vibes…

    I’m not really a party guy. So the best social events for me are small gatherings. A few good friends, good food and drinks (doesn’t have to be alchohol) .

    And, of course, inflatable bouncy equipment.

  8. Hmmm, best party. Good conversation, good humor, good beverages, good food, no party poopers, no obnoxiously drunk people or obnoxiously loud music.

  9. Never really happened to me. There were times when I was dreading a party until the turnout was poor and we all just sat around and talked. Now THOSE are nice.

    Although, I do remember an ex-friend of mine was dating a mormon so we went over to his house to watch movies. His condo was surrounded by pictures of Jesus and the temple while everyone just sat around and smoked pot. Coffee wasn’t allowed of course, but booze and pot were ok.

    I didn’t partake, but I left incredibly amused.

  10. I received a letter from the former mrs sugden’s solicitor (the kind with the law firm’s letterhead on the envelope to shit you right up before you even open it) earlier this week and while I was expecting the usual shellacking [like being held upsidedown by one foot by an evil legal giant and shuck until all the money falls out] I was delighted DEE-LIII-TED DELIGHTED to learn the second former mrs sugden is getting re-married at the end of the month.

    And now some other poor fool can maintain her in the manner to which she’d come to expect. I may actually lived through the happiest day of my life.

  11. Oh, I meant to add, there’s a Hallowe’en display in my neighborhood with an AWESOME anti-atheist tombstone. I’ll take a pic on my way home tonight and post it on my blog tomorrow. My husband and I had a good laugh at that one!

  12. I so wish I could say I was surprised and I still hope that I will be someday but I haven’t been yet.

    Best party, ineresting people, subtle jazz playing quietly (think Kind of Blue), good food, good booze, interesting conversation and everyone brings something be it a bottle of wine or a wedge of cheese or a new fruit and everyone tries something new.

  13. I went to my cousins’ graduation party – from the Police academy. I was expecting it to be fairly boring until, after confirming I wasn’t driving, my uncle (their father) started buying me drinks. I was 19 and surrounded by cops, and noone cared. It was a fun party.

    My perfect party can come in 2 flavors – about 20 people gloriously inebriated, playing drinking games and partying ’til 5 AM. We all pass out on random couches and go home the next afternoon. Or it can be 5-10 people, good music, a couple of good drinks, be it beer or wine or whiskey or sangria, along with a really bad movie to make fun of.

  14. I had been out at Kerrville (Little) Folk Festival… probably 2000 IIRC. Temps were well over 100 daily. My group decided to head out and hit a cypress-lined swimming hole one afternoon. While basking in what was as close as nirvana (with a cold beer in hand, mind you) as you can get in West Texas, a small red pickup overflowing with people showed up, singing and clapping. They all filed out (and we’re talking clown-car numbers here) with two elderly women bringing up the rear. With the contingent of nicely dressed younger people lining the banks of the river, a tiny older man and one of the old women propped up what had to be the frailest old women in the county. We watched as they walked right out into ~ waist deep water, as if the water didn’t even exist. At that point he addressed us, thanking us for our presence to witness, well, whatever it was. He then started vocalizing loudly, talking in tongues and bursting into the occasional song.

    Suddenly he shoves the teeny-tiny elderly woman (in a full mantilla) so she falls over, completely submerged, shouting incoherently at the sky. We watched for an anxious minute, hoping to see her bob back up to the surface. The thought that we had just witnessed an old lady drown was crossing our minds. Eventually, her more stout elderly companion, reached down, grabbed her arm and hauled her back up to the surface. The contingent on the banks (family?) burst into clapping and song. We couldn’t help but clap wildly for the sputtering but breathing old lady. Without missing a beat, everyone immediately filed back into the tiny pickup and drove away, singing all the while.

    That was it. Not a single word of explanation. Closest I can figure is that it was some type of pentecostal ceremony. .. and I enjoyed watching it. Totally fascinating and more than a bit infectious with the happy vibe. That remains the highlight of that trip, which is completely unexpected considering the massive amount of, um, other fun from that trip.

  15. I was recently surprised by feeling like a prude in a house full of Mormons a couple weeks ago. I had a great time, but I was left feeling like the most conservative one in the room.

  16. No shit. The Presby’s on campus are holding that kind of shindig when I just drove an hour to hang out with my sister in San Antonio?

    Well, at least I got to see the nephews in their costumes, help fix some fence with my wicked new air hammer and hear my wife scream from the haunted yard two doors down. So it wasn’t a complete waste.

    Parties are all about the attitude of the majority. You get the most fun people together and they don’t feel like it’s good, your party sucks. You get the biggest lame-o’s together and they’re having a good time, party on! There are few things more fun than just hanging out with people who are having a good time.

  17. I’d say CONvergence (a.k.a. skepchickCON) was my biggest surprise. I was planning on having a good time no matter what, but I was however not expecting a bunch of dressed up geeks to party hard like that. Awesome.

    As for the kinds of parties I like, I’d say the skepchick party in Vegas is a good example. It’s so much fun I don’t even mind the heat.

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