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I’m a helper. I’ve always been that way. When I was a lad, one afternoon I returned home two hours late from school. My anxious mother wanted to know why.

“I stopped to help a little old lady across the street,” I said.

“Surely it didn’t take you two hours.”

“She didn’t want to go.”

That’s me. I’m a helper. So, it should come as no surprise to you, dear reader, that I feel an overwhelming compulsion to offer the occasional helpful tip for navigating the rough waters of daily life. I encourage you to clip this column, fold it neatly, and store it in your wallet or purse so that you may refer to it for guidance when the occasion arises.

Please, you don’t have to thank me. That’s just me. I’m a helper.

How to survive a no-host reception

Let’s be frank. Many of us would prefer to rescue live chickens from a Tallahassee gator farm than attend a no-host reception, but there are times when our sincere wish to bid bon voyage to the reception honoree overrides our fear of chive between our teeth.

The following suggestions will help you negotiate these treacherous waters.

Arrive early, preferably before the honoree. This will allow you time to pound down a couple of beverages and shovel in a plateful of hors d’oeuvres ahead of the other guests.

Before entering the room, check your fly. Nothing says “howdy” like an open trouser fly, but it is important to keep in mind the context of the social gathering.

There are three landmarks within the room by which you will orient yourself: The bar, the buffet line and the honoree. You must keep at least two, and preferably the first two, in sight at all times.

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Make a beeline for the bar. If the honoree is already in the room, wave and smile as you trot by. You can always circle back after your second boilermaker and your first trip to the buffet line.

IMPORTANT SAFETY PROCEDURE. Do not attempt to bend over to retrieve an errant Swedish meatball. You risk injury to your lower back. Instead, with a quick flick of your foot, shoot the meatball over to vicinity of the honoree (avoid actually striking the honoree, if possible).

This meatball will come in handy as an icebreaker when you’ve finished eating. “Gee Bob, we’re sure going to miss you around here. Is this your meatball?”

Eventually, you will have sated your appetite and will have washed it all down with enough alcohol to start six sailors singing a chantey. This means only one thing — it’s time to bestow hugs upon one and all.

Hugging is the key to a successful reception experience. Hug the honoree, the honoree’s spouse, hug the bartender, hug the guy who brings out the steam trays of Swedish meatballs, and be sure and hug the security guard who escorts you to the door.


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