TIME 100 gala: I so didn’t go

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For five years now, my employer has thrown an all-star, red-carpet, glitterati-packed extravaganza to honor the people it selects for its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Last year, I attended for the first time, and posted these pics. There were stars! Up close! Tina Fey, Matt Lauer, the guy who dived onto the subway tracks to save a stranger! Cocktails! Canap├ęs! Grubby journalists in black tie!

This year, I patiently awaited my invite. And waited. And waited. Finally, on Wednesday, it arrived via e-mail. It said:

I’m pleased to let you know that you’re invited to the Time 100 gala on Thursday. This has turned into a hot ticket, and it has become more difficult for Time staff to get into the cocktail reception, let alone the seated dinner. This invitation is for the cocktail reception and for dinner, though not in the main room. This dinner will be served in the atrium and it will be possible from there to watch the proceedings on a big screen. And of course you’re also invited to stay for the after-party drinks in the same space.

Okay, so it was a qualified invite. An “all right, all right, you can come, but only if you stay in the background and don’t eat too many wontons.” Also, the event was on Thursday. As in the following day.

If you’re invited to mill in the general vicinity of Robert Downey Jr., Mariah Carey and John McCain, some of you might drop everything and go. But weeknights out take meticulous planning when they involve arranging the care of a little one. Not to mention the black-tie outfitting of an enormously pregnant woman to whom Angelina Jolie has not loaned her personal stylist.

Still, I thought about it. The truth is I love a party. And there are few occasions in my work life to hang with my colleagues, whom I enjoy seeing scrubbed clean of ink and fatigue. My “mom,” Marlene Kahan of the American Society of Magazine Editors, needed a date. I sent a “maybe” RSVP.

Here was the automatically generated response:

Thank you for your interest in the TIME 100 Gala. The Gala is at capacity. If you have not already responded, we will place your name on a wait list. If you have additional questions, please feel free to call us at 212-522-xxxx and leave you name, phone number and brief message, we will return your call as soon as possible.

!!! Oh, and:

Thank you and have a great day.

I was disinvited from my own employer’s party! How about that! So you’ll have to read MediaBistro’s FishbowlNY instead for an account of who all was there. I wasn’t one of them.

(Oh, all right, an addendum to appease my bosses: in truth I didn’t remember the gala was coming up until I saw colleagues from far-flung locales convening at headquarters this week. And my staff status would have overridden the disinvitation. And besides my childcare and wardrobe issues, I had a doctor’s appointment I couldn’t move. But the rest is true.)