by Chris R. Morgan


6:56 PM—elevator muzak

Uninvited Guest 2: Are you sure we’re allowed in?

Uninvited Guest 1: We’re not disallowed.

Uninvited Guest 2: What does that mean?

Uninvited Guest 1: It’s an office party; it’s not the fucking Forbidden Palace.

Uninvited Guest 2: What?

Uninvited Guest 1: It’s not a fucking Mormon temple.

Uninvited Guest 2: Okay.

Uninvited Guest 1: It’s an office.

Uninvited Guest 2: What’s it called again?

Uninvited Guest 1: Annex Holdings, Inc.

Uninvited Guest 2: What’s that?

Uninvited Guest 1: It’s a tech startup.

Uninvited Guest 2: It doesn’t sound like a tech startup.

Uninvited Guest 1: Will you trust me, dude?

Uninvited Guest 2: I think we’re early.

Uninvited Guest 1: Relax. This is a new era. Being early for parties is the classy thing.

Uninvited Guest 2: Where did you hear that?

Uninvited Guest 1: Around. (pause) xoJane. Ah, here we are.

Receptionist: Oh, I’m sorry we’re closed for busin—

Uninvited Guest 1: Oh we’re expected, thanks.

Receptionist: Excu—

Uninvited Guest 2: Uhm … merry Christmas.


7:02 PM—“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”

Uninvited Guest 1: It’s not quite what I thought it would be.

Uninvited Guest 2: Are you sure this is the right place?

Uninvited Guest 1: Where else could it be?

Uninvited Guest 2: We could have just walked into an entirely different Christmas party.

Uninvited Guest 1: Nope there she is. Hey, Karen!

Karen: Uhm … hey.

Uninvited Guest 1: This place gave us quite a surprise.

Karen: Yeah. (pause) What are you doing here?

Uninvited Guest 1: Well, you remember when we were at Gregory’s last weekend?

Karen: Yeah.

Uninvited Guest 1: And you said you couldn’t see that screening of All That Heaven Allows at the Film Forum because you had this?

Karen: Yes.

Uninvited Guest 1: Well I decided to come and visit. To see your world.

Karen: I don’t consider thi—

Uninvited Guest 1: And I brought my friend.

Uninvited Guest 2: Hi. Merry Christmas.

Karen: Hi. (pause) Look, I don’t think you should—

Rod: Hey, Karen, who are these guys?

Karen: Rod … this is a … friend of mine from a previous job.

Rod: And how do you do? I’m Rod.

Uninvited Guest 1: Just fine.

Rod: And who are you?

Uninvited Guest 1: This is a friend of mine from a previous job.

Rod: Well put ‘er there, you two. Welcome to the Annex Holdings annual holiday festivities. Do you guys want elf hats? Santa hats are for closers.

Karen: Uh, they were just on their way—

Rod: Nonsense, the night is young. The eggnog’s already spiked.

Karen: It’s supposed to be spiked.

Rod: Not with Drano, though. You come with me, sir.

Uninvited Guest 2: Sure.

Rod: We got these things called Moscow Mules. Fuck if I know what goes in them but they come in nice cups, which we don’t have admittedly, and everyone in this city just shy of grad school pounds it like Gatorade.


7:28 PM—“Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”

Babs: Cataracts?

Arnold: No.

Dave: Scoliosis?

Arnold: I don’t see it.

Reggie: Corpuscles fucking everywhere.

Arnold: No.

Langdon: Nocturnal emissions?

Reggie: Still?

Langdon: Don’t judge.

Arnold: Actually …

Dave: Wait … what about blackhead removal?

Arnold: Can you prove it isn’t preexisting?

Dave: My skin had a youthful glow until my divorce.

Arnold: Which one?

Dave: Oh fuck off.

Babs: What about the kid?

Uninvited Guest 2: Me?

Arnold: Wanna test your luck with health plan limitations?

Uninvited Guest 2: Oh no, I’m fine. But relatedly, I keep getting hernias confused with hemorrhoids.


Reggie: What about paternal prepartum depression?

Arnold: Ah, yes.

Reggie: Hot damn! Living to see New Year’s here we come!


7:46 PM—“Frosty the Snowman”

Uninvited Guest 1: Ah, hello, I’m looking for my frie—

Kyle: Why do you tremble at me alone?

Uninvited Guest 1: Excuse me?

Kyle: Tremble also at each other! Have men avoided me, and women shown no pity, and children screamed and fled …

Uninvited Guest 1: There are no children here.

Kyle: … only for my lampshade?

Uninvited Guest 1: Yes, that’s very funny.

Kyle: What, but the mystery which it obscurely typifies has made this piece of crape so awful?

Uninvited Guest 1: But seriously, my friend, have you—

Kyle: Then deem me a monster, for the symbol beneath which I have lived, and die! I look around me, and, lo! on every visage a lampshade!

Uninvited Guest 1: This place only has overhead fluorescent lights.

Kyle: I brought this in from home.

Uninvited Guest 1: Oh fun!

Kyle: Seasons greetings, young man.


8:15 PM—“Santa Baby”

Laura: Partied out already?

Uninvited Guest 2: Oh, not really it’s just … I don’t know anyone here.

Laura: Are you new?

Uninvited Guest 2: No … actually I don’t work here at all.

Laura: A stowaway! From what great height did you fall to end up here?

Uninvited Guest 2: Huh?

Laura: What do you do?

Uninvited Guest 2: I’m a freelancer.

Laura: Freelance what?

Uninvited Guest 2: Freelance copyediting, freelance space-filling, freelance coffee making. Freelance whatever.

Laura: So what do you say your job is to people you actually want to look useful to? Like dates or your grandparents?

Uninvited Guest 2: That is what I tell them.

Laura: Brave man.

Uninvited Guest 2: No, I mean I’m actually a caretaker for a place on West 10th Street.

Laura: Not 14 West 10th Street?

Uninvited Guest 2: Yep.

Laura: No way. Is it true what they say? About the deaths? About the hauntings? Have you seen anything?

Uninvited Guest 2: It’s plenty haunted. By cats.

Laura: Oh God.

Uninvited Guest 2: I count about 20 of them. 25 maybe.

Laura: When I was interning, I’d earn some extra cash working for this renters advocacy group. I’d pose as a relative of a recently dead shut-in and I’d squat in their apartment to keep it rent-controlled.

Uninvited Guest 2: I once answered an ad in Craigslist for party clowns.

Laura: Nice.

Uninvited Guest 2: I can see why they didn’t specify the party.

Laura: Oh goodness.

Uninvited Guest 2: Yeah.

Laura: I mean, I was also a digger on Hart Island.

Uninvited Guest 2: Wait what?

Laura: Bulldozer operation is listed under Special Skills in my résumé.


8:41 PM—“Last Christmas”

Uninvited Guest 1: Ah, there you are!

Karen: Yep. Here I am.

Uninvited Guest 1: Interesting place of work you have here.

Karen: I wouldn’t call it that, per se.

Uninvited Guest 1: Well I remember it seeming a little different. From what you told me. More ergonomic chairs. More ping pong tables and inspiration boards. More wellness dens.

Karen: Well, okay, maybe our conversations were more … aspirational than properly truthful.

Uninvited Guest 1: Like, do you even still do graphic design?

Karen: Of course.

Uninvited Guest 1: Really?

Karen: I do annual reports. (pause) I do stationary. (longer pause) Bathroom signs. I design bathroom signs.

Uninvited Guest 1: Seriously?

Karen: Oh you’re one to talk. What have you been doing since the firm laid us off? “Freelancing?”

Uninvited Guest 1: Unlike you I’ve been doing stationary. High-end stationary, as a matter of fact. Look at this business card.

Karen: This is your own business card.

Uninvited Guest 1: And that’s a proof so actually I’m going to need that back. Things are a little tied up with the printer. It’s very political.

Karen: Listen. I didn’t want to do this here but … I think you and I need to go back and … take stock in what our standards are.

Uninvited Guest 1: Are you saying I have low standards?

Karen: No, no I’m say—

Uninvited Guest 1: Because I don’t think you know what I’m capable of.

Karen: No, this is coming out wrong, I think.

Uninvited Guest 1: I can out-decline you any day of the week.

Karen: What?

Uninvited Guest 1: I can decline you under the table.

Karen: Oh fuck off.

Uninvited Guest 1: Oh hell yes. It is on now.


9:06 PM—“Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”

The Boss: Okay people, gather round, gather round. (pause) I just wanted to wish all of you a merry Christmas or a happy holidays or whatever is appropriate in this context. I also wanted to thank you for your dedication and drive this year. It’s been rough on all of us, for sure, but thanks to everyone we’ve beaten our fourth quarter profit estimates by six percentage points. Give yourselves a hand, people.

Everyone: (applauds, cheers) Here, here!

The Boss: Now, I gather you all got your envelopes from under your chairs? I apologize for the elaborate antics but I’m sure my giddiness is a little bit justified.

Everyone: (laughs)

The Boss: And I’m sure the suspense is killing you. So without further adieu, please open up your envelopes and see your holiday bonuses.

Everyone: (cheers)

Trevor: Uhm …

The Boss: What? What is it, Trevor?

Trevor: These are credit card receipts from Club 21.

Laura: And they look like they’ve been loogied on.

The Boss: An astute observation, Laura. (long pause) Look, what are we? A business, right? And a business by its very nature is profitable. It doesn’t really matter by what measure so long as it’s profitable. By what logic am I supposed to give you extra money for doing exactly what I hired you for at the rate at which we mutually agreed to pay you? Think, people. You’re human beings, you’re not parasites. (laughs)

Everyone: (laughs)

The Boss: I am actually very serious here. (pause) But keep laughing. Laughter is good for morale. I read it on Business Insider. Now who’s ready for white elephant?


10:03 PM—“Wonderful Christmas Time”

Jacob: Hey, what’s wrong?

Karen: Nothing, I just want to get out of here.

Jacob: Some people from my office are meeting at Slattery’s. I was thinking of swinging by but … you don’t evidently feel up for that.

Karen: Sorry.

The Boss: Ah, Karen, so glad I caught you before you left.

Karen: Oh, yes, sir. Merry Christmas.

The Boss: Yes, yes; merry Christmas and all that. So I’ve been meaning to talk to you.

Karen: Okay.

The Boss: I met this gentlemen you invited to our party. Ah, there he is.

Uninvited Guest 1: Sup?

Karen: Oh no, sir, it’s all a big misunderstanding, he’s not—

The Boss: Well, we got to talking for a bit. He spoke very highly of you.

Karen: He did?

The Boss: Yes, he told me that you’re a talented, ambitious designer who’s being unduly limited by your current duties.

Karen: Well, I mean, if he says so …

The Boss: He does. He said you were meant for great things and should be granted the quickest access to them.

Jacob: That’s not bad, I told you things were going to turn around, Karen.

The Boss: And turn around they will, as this gentleman has offered to assume your duties at half the salary.

Karen: What?

The Boss: So that you may spread your wings across this great city. As a freelancer.

Karen: Wait. No, no, no, no.

The Boss: Goodbye, Karen. I wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors.

Karen: Wait … sir … we’ve made so much money this year. Surely you can have two bathroom sign designers.

The Boss: I suppose we could, but this allows me to finally get people to shut up about the Keurig machine everyone’s been bothering me about.

Uninvited Guest 1: It’s a Christmas miracle!

The Boss: Indeed, it’s not often I get to make everyone happy.


10:27 PM—elevator muzak

Uninvited Guest 2: That wasn’t bad, actually.

Uninvited Guest 1: What did you end up getting in white elephant?

Uninvited Guest 2: American Gigolo on VHS.

Uninvited Guest 1: I think that was playing in Manitoba’s last time I was there.