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Ask Brock: The Holiday Party

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Brock Fantasia is the only remaining person in the JPMorgan analyst class of 2002 to still work at JPMorgan, which is in no way testament to the work environment at JPMorgan. In fact, Brock likes to think of himself as the Highlander of his analyst class, wielding an indestructible claymore of corporate finance.

After “totally wrecking” (in his own words) the Analyst-to-Associate program in the M&A group, Brock was briefly moved to the Natural Resources group, due to increased deal flow in the M&A group. Brock graduated from the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Wharton with a degree in Finance and is working in investment banking until he can find a buy-side job. Brock has been interviewing for buy-side jobs throughout the past 3 years and has not been a “good fit” anywhere, despite his ever-burgeoning skill-set.

[Editor's P.S.,- Some of this is true. But only some of it. Previous Ask Brocks are here. Send your questions to : brock AT dealbreaker DOT com]
It’s that time of year again, and by that time of year I mean the time of year in which your investment banking superiors are about to grant you a whole 24-48 consecutive hours off in a mere two weeks. Not only will you soon be basking in a luxurious swath of free time in which you can catch up on 1 or maybe 2/365ths of the total sleep deprivation you’ve suffered in the past year, but sometime in the next couple of business days, your group will have its annual holiday party. The holiday party is a party so important that it must be held several weeks before the actual holiday it is celebrating (answer – Boxing Day, because someone has to spend actual Christmas in the office – you) to give senior bankers a chance to blow it off before taking a proper 2 to 3 week late December vacation that you will never know.
The holiday party organizers and your de facto superiors lull you into a mode of easy acceptance by appearing on the floor when you’re actually working as opposed to catching you in the middle of your Staubach-esque release from throwing a Nerf football with a random tech company logo on it to someone across the bullpen. Thrown off guard from not having to rush to close a window of Freecell, a game of no-limit online poker with $50 blinds, a blurred view of Britney Spears’s mons veneris doing an impression of Telly Savalas,, an updated version of your resume, your Yahoo! Fantasy Football league page, some prohibited day trading on E*trade, your suicide note/explanation for impending killing spree in Word, a video of someone failing to execute a back flip while wielding nunchucks and most frivolously some silly columns on, you continue cranking away on your rather elementary model, knowing something is not quite right.

Firstly, a lone VP is approaching your cube while not currently staffed with you, which would suggest that the he has something to convey to you other than smug acknowledgment of some functionality in-between the commute from his office door to the elevator bay. Secondly, the VP’s pace is not that of someone with a lit M-80 nestled in-between his glutes attempting to put out a fire engulfing his deal toys, pets and small children while being charged by a horde of male baboons under the coital pretense that the lit M-80 is in fact the submissive presentation of a distended red anus common in baboon courtship. Instead the VP is doing something commonly referred to as “walking.” The VP stops mid-way between his office and your cubicle, then begins to croon the 1991 Mr. Big classic “To Be With You,” starting with the gentle verse, “You can make my life worthwhile, and I can make you start to…smile.”
So desperate for the slightest hint of affirmation and against all rational impulses to avoid a man who is clearly insane, you rise from your broken, maladjusted and inexplicably priced Aeron chair and slowly walk toward the VP, just as he begins to hum the fruitiest solo ever strummed by Mr. Big guitarist Paul Gilbert. Unable to resist the siren song of such melodic overtures, and with no beeswax handy, you attempt to shove whole pitch books in your ears to muffle the noise, but continue to advance toward the off-key man, who has now been joined by several other senior staff now deep into an a cappella rendition of Dave Matthew’s “Crash Into Me.” Just as the chorus of VPs is instructing you to “hike up your skirt a little more,” helpless, and bleeding violently from the ears, you fall into the lead VP’s arms as he repeats, “It’s not your fault,” over and over again, until you start sobbing uncontrollably. During this process he slips an invitation to your group’s holiday party into your pocket.
The holiday party is inevitably scheduled by someone who keeps the social calendar of a reclusive agoraphobic insomniac, and punctuates either a Tuesday or Wednesday at around 9:00pm, which makes it especially difficult to justify drinking yourself into an oblivion that will induce amnesia from training until the present day.
My theory is that some organization (Orthodox Jews and Seventh Day Adventists) collectively kidnaps the toy poodles of the people in investment banking groups responsible for scheduling the annual holiday party and stipulates that if the party is scheduled on a Friday, it will lock the animals in a room with nothing but an open window and a TV chained to the wall playing the movie Turner & Hooch on loop. No poodle has ever made it past the title sequence of the second viewing, and no holiday party has been on a Friday. Despite my efforts this year to claim that my Sabbath, starting Friday at sundown, requires me to observe a day of rest from “not partying,” the party was not moved.
Instead, here you are, stuck on a Tuesday night at a second rate bar due to budget cuts, watching one MD attempting to ruin his third marriage right in front of the entire group, one senior associate irreparably damaging his career with drunken honesty, one female analyst doing something that will earn her an inappropriate nickname for the remainder of her tenure at the bank, one junior VP boasting that he’s breaking his “new baby” curfew and throwing his cell phone in a brandy snifter and one senior VP constantly telling a winter intern to “not give up his 20s” and to “enjoy a lot of women” while continually attempting to initiate a man-hug.
The only saving grace of my holiday party was that I…I mean my non-acquaintance and evil nemesis Crock Mantasia, who I in no way associate with or endorse personally, spiritually or sexually, got a hold of the annual holiday presentation and “altered” some of the group awards that are presented every year. I believe I…I mean Crock…did the group a service, because if I had to sit through the permanently un-laid “top-tier” 3rd year analyst’s presentation of the “Favorite MD” award to “Everyone!” then fake smile and clap like a clubbed autistic seal while every other sycophantic monkey in our group raised his (or her) erection toward the MDs in agreement, I was going to hang myself by my own entrails.
Of course, the reception these altered awards received would make Michael Richards presenting at the Source Awards seem warm by comparison, and those who audibly laughed were later fired, but many assorted reactions were worth it.
Crock Mantasia’s Altered Holiday Party Awards:
1.The Uruguayan Rugby Team Plane Crash In The Andes Eat Your Own Award:
Justin Left, Associate. Thank you Justin, for making sure our staffer knows when the analysts and junior associates leave. It really helps us out there big guy. One firm, one team, right cockface? Honorary mention goes to Patti Dunn and her army of internally hired spies at HP. Special honorary mention goes to old Argent Hedge fund manager Bruce McMahan for marrying his own daughter and finding a creative way to eat his own (you would be able to say he employed outside the box thinking to almost win this one, if his thinking weren’t so bound by the box).
2.The Jack London Disembowel Your Dog and Stick Your Hands In His Entrails To Build A Fire In Utter Futility Award:
Bill “This Pitch Could Go Live At Any Moment” Carson, VP. The name says it all. It’s on his birth certificate, I swear. Needless to say working with him is fun times. Honorary mention goes to Brian Hunter of Amaranth who isn’t heating anything with natural gas anytime soon.
3.The Remora Permanently Attached By The Mouth To A Carnivore Award:
All VPs on a promotion track whose dorsal fins have evolved into specially adapted sucking organs and who willingly consume a steady stream of host organism feces. Honorary mention goes to associates on a promotion track.
4.The “But It Does Move” Galilean Repudiation Of Heliocentricity Award:
Ganesh Gopal, Analyst. You refused to believe that spending 140 hours some week in August would result in the second biggest LBO ever. You protested, exhibiting a rare bit of rational behavior, by leaving the bank at 4:37am. You didn’t answer your associate’s calls for 2 hours. You showered. You returned by 7:00am. You were castigated and exiled from the project. The “deal” fell through, in very preliminary stages. No apologies were ever issued, by the Vatican or otherwise.
5.Best Action Sequence:
Allison Wang, Analyst. I wasn’t there to witness what you did to that individual on the first night of training, but thank you. You’ve given us all a very special gift. Honorary mention goes to former Pepsi exec Gary Wandschneider and professional extortionist Jessica Wolcott – who must be able to do something extraordinary to divert attention from her face.
6.The John Galt Award For Complete Dissociation From Reality And Attempts To Live In A Secret Enclave Only With Others Deemed Important Award:
Curt Frymon, MD. Seriously dude, I’ve sat in intimately small weekly project meetings with you for the last year and a half and after running into you in the cafeteria last week you asked if I was a full time employee. Honorary mention goes to Dick Grasso and all who approved his compensation package.
7.The Neville Chamberlain Appeasement Award For Not Curbing Clearly Nazi Behavior:
Lynda Devine, VP / Staffer / Proud Mother / Beelzebub. Have you seen some of the analysts Lynda? Some of the analysts could be cast in Schindler’s List right this second. Open your freaking eyes. That MD doesn’t need 4 analysts working 18 hour days on his pet project to determine which security software provider would be the most accretive to InterActiveCorp because you know a guy who knows a guy who knows Barry Diller. Just learn to say “No.” Take back the night. Honorary mention goes to Ken Lay, who claimed he was just that oblivious.
8.Best Supporting Actress In An MD Role:
Jennifer Greyson, MD. She had the tremendous ability to convey to others that she had a rudimentary grasp of basic financial concepts, industry knowledge and client skills in order to earn a promotion to MD. But wait, I’m confused – either complacency has set in, or she’s ceased to act. Why are you an MD again Jennifer?
9.Please Suck My Balls / Favorite MD: