The Night Ranger offers valuable advice for surviving the holiday office party season.

Danger Ahead! 

The Night Ranger offers valuable advice for surviving the holiday office party season.

Regular readers of this column might have noticed our penchant for acronyms, such as GNG (gay/not gay) and GNO (girls' night out). Acronyms are cryptically fun and efficient! However, the most important one in our repertoire -- the one that spawned our whole acronym craze -- is WC. No, not water closet. Work Crush.

The name is self-explanatory. It's the person who makes our day a little less boring, someone we can discreetly ogle during meetings or flirt with at the coffee machine. When you're buried in, say, TPS reports, God knows you need some eye candy to get you through the tedium, mmkay?

This acronym provides the perfect way to talk about your crushes among your coworker friends without identifying your luv interest out loud. For example, you could safely comment in public: "The WC came over to my desk and looked really cute today." Or, "The WC was at the happy hour, and we ended up drunkenly making out in my car." The beauty of the WC is that it can be innocent fun within the work setting. There is, however, the possibility that WC can veer into something more, which can sometimes lead to not-so-great consequences, like major awkwardness. But that just means you'll have to find creative methods of avoidance, such as using the fire escape to leave the building or hiding under your desk. Or you can just totally ignore the ex-WC, which has worked surprisingly well for us in the past.

With all of this in mind, we feel compelled to point out that the most dangerous season of the year is upon us. It's prime WC hookup time -- i.e., office-party time. Yep, hauling your holiday-induced depression over the fact that you are alone (and will turn into that old lady who lives with eighty cats) to some event room with an open bar, where you notice an attractive coworker looking scrumptious in dress-up clothes, results in squalidly titillating stories to tell your friends over a greasy breakfast the next afternoon! For example, there was that one party a few years ago at the Empire Room, where a drunk Santa Claus made out with a coworker's boyfriend. That would be the same party where a WCOM (Work Crush On Me -- someone who obviously likes you, as indicated by desk hoverage, though you don't share the sentiment) said to the Night Ranger, "Meet me in the bathroom in five minutes." The NR ignored that directive, but when she actually had to use the facilities about half an hour later, she heard a knock on the door as she was washing her hands. It was the WCOM, who quickly entered the one-room water closet and shut the door -- even though his GF was outside. The most important thing is that the NR managed to escape, though that incident haunts her to this day.

So, after you've double-fisted as many drinks as possible before the open bar closes, and after you get so inebriated that you (a) tell off some authority figure; (b) hit on someone's significant other; or, even worse (c), hit on your coworker and are shut down -- what to do? Friends, the answer is easy: flee.

One place we recommend is 12 Baltimore, the bar at the Phillips Hotel. It's the perfect place to go undercover. The lights are low, and it's not too crowded on weekends, so there's a lot of seating for you and your work clique to have the postmortem on who wore what and who was so touchy-feely, disgustingly drunk. The bar is about to debut a new drink menu, too, with such delights as a crème brûlée martini (Just Desserts Crème Brûlée liqueur and Absolut vodka, served in a glass rimmed with caramel and macadamia nuts) and the Chocolate-Covered Strawberry (strawberry-infused vodka and white- and dark-chocolate Godiva liqueur). As a bonus, the hotel will send a shuttle to both pick you up and take you home, provided you live downtown. The only drawback is that the bar closes at one (eleven on Sunday). But because you've been drinking since seven, it's probably time to quit.

Admittedly, we'll probably be the ones causing some antics at our own office holiday party. But if you try to follow us to the bathroom, we swear we'll pull out our red Swingline and staple-shoot you in the eye.

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