This is how a pair of Gawker writers planned to not crash the 2013 employees-only Buzzfeed holiday party:
Step 1: After work, purchase and eat one (1) sandwich four (4) blocks away from Webster Hall, the site of the 2013 employees-only Buzzfeed holiday party.
Step 2: Walk to Webster Hall; pause in front of the entrance.
Step 3: Report back to editor John Cook that Gawker Media was unfortunately unable to infiltrate the 2013 employees-only Buzzfeed holiday party. Sorry, John—there was just no getting in.
Step 4: Retire to their respective warm beds and Hulu delights.
Step 1, launched at 19:00, went off without a hitch, although the chosen restaurant did not carry a wide selection of America's most popular soft drinks, which was disappointing.
Halfway through the execution of Step 2, the plan fell apart. At approximately 7:20 p.m., in the course of a cursory pass by the entrance of Webster Hall intended only to discharge the barest minimum duty to attempt to enter a party that was clearly inviolable, the 2013 employees-only Buzzfeed holiday party crashed into Gawker Media.
"Buzzfeed?" shouted a man in the doorway, like carnival barker.
"Uh...er…ah…" stammered the writer in a wine-colored sweatshirt, while everyone—including his companion—stared at him expectantly for no fewer than 71 minutes. Finally, an idea struck him: "...Yes?"
Before you could say "Wow, you're bad at lying!" the duo's wrists were bound in lime-green plastic bands; their identities checked against an official roster of guests ("Could it be under another name?" Almost certainly not!). Once it was clear there was no record of their invitation or RSVP, they were admitted without issue.
Inside the expansive wood-floored Marlin Room, 300 young people clustered in groups of coworkers they already knew and smiled nervously at the dark. Some, under a disco ball near the stage, stand-danced to seasonal hymns like Nelly's "Hot in Herre" while holding drinks. The bars (two) were tended by what one employee described as "a sexy Santa," as well as a handful of other non-themed humans of average to above-average sexual attractiveness. Buckets of small candy sticks—crooked at one end to represent the staffs of the shepherds who visited the infant Jesus on his birthday 2,013 years ago, and flavored with peppermint extract to represent the peppermint candies Jesus would have loved if only he had been alive to eat them—were scattered around the room. The candy canes were hung from the women's décolletages with care. Everyone became an amateur mixologist accidentally incorporating the flavor of sticky sweet peppermint into white wine, vodka sodas, and beer.
As in any heartwarming Christmas tragedy, Santa had brought lots of GIFs for everyone. Televisions suspended high over one of the bars broadcast Beyoncé serving a Photoshopped pizza in silent perpetuity as drinks were poured. At a makeshift photobooth near the entrance, employees could become GIFs themselves by posing for a series of pictures in front of a backdrop studded with shiny Christmas bows. Also like a GIF were the encounters between the Gawker employees and the Buzzfeed revelers who hated them; encounters that played out almost identically over and over again on a horrible loop. Enforcement of the company's famous "No haters" policy, it seemed, was as lax as the party's security.
In keeping with the seasonal theme, the receptions of the interlopers ranged from "frosty" to "nuclear winter." As a suspected pedophile would be received at Christmas brunch, so were those wearing the dark mark of Gawker Media received at the 2013 employees-only Buzzfeed holiday party. Everywhere the Gawker employees went, anxiety, trepidation, and polite alarm fell like thick, wet snow. Those who knew the identities of the writers visibly stiffened in their presence; one slowly backed away into a crowd while talking, as if attempting to escape from a lunatic. (Those who did not know—spouses and dates, mostly—were lovely.)
"How did you get in?" people demanded again and again (and again and again and again and again). The most commonly expressed sentiment (said with eyebrows and pauses and popping veins but never, explicitly, with words) was I would rather not be seen talking to you. There was no room at the inn, or in the stable, or at the stable across the street. And everyone looked so festive.
Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, while not effusive about their presence, did not appear actively to wish death upon the Gawker writers, which was, by 10 p.m., the kindest response they could hope for. He suggested that he might like to attend Gawker Media's own holiday party (at the time, still two days away), but only if not invited.
Three drinks and one knocked-over bowl of candy canes later ("Oh my God, I'm so sorry"), the tide changed. A Buzzfeed publicist strode to the center of the dance floor and introduced herself to the Gawker writers, confident and serene like Jesus laying hands on a leper.
"I heard Gawker was here," she smiled. "I'm impressed you got in. You should stay!"
It was time to leave.