Friday, April 30, 2010

Slices of Life - Company dinner

Thursday evening:

My husband and I (I have to come up with some clever nickname or initials for him) attended a business-related dinner.  One of those where you sit at a big round table with 9 other people, and there are 9 or 10 of those tables in the room and all those voices create a cacophony that would make a bat's ears bleed.  So you can really only hear the people right next to you talking.  If you want to hear the people across the table, you have to lean forward and cup your ear like Beverly Hillbillies Granny.  And sometimes, the people on either side of you are facing away, talking to the people that aren't you. (For the purposes of this little story, I'll use "bh" for "beloved husband") (At times, that would need to be spoken with tongue firmly planted in cheek).

Me: (The people on my right are having a conversation that I can't hear completely, but I try to look keenly interested)

BH: (The people on his left are having a conversation that is engrossing to the two of them)

Me: So, how ya doin'?

BH: Pretty good.  You?

Me: Not bad.  This food is really good.

BH: I don't like it (he pushes it around his plate)*.

Me:  You seemed to like those morel mushrooms (I'd given him one of mine and the man sitting next to me gave both of his to bh)

BH: (Shrugs) Only the first two were really good.

Me: What are they talking about on your side?

BH:  Haiti, I think.  Earthquake fall-out.  What about your side?

Me: Finances.

BH: Oh.  (We should've switched seats at this point.  Finance is like the adult-speak in the Peanuts comics to me: waaah-waah-waaah.  Bh is all about the finance.  I might've been able to hold up a bit of conversation about Haiti, though).

BH: Why don't you ask Jean about scuba diving?

Me: Huh?  (Jean is sitting two people away and is involved in the finance talk)

BH: You know, make conversation, have something to talk about.

Me: (Blinking.  Trying to understand what the HELL he is talking about because Jean obviously needs no encouragement to talk and I'd have to lean over the man between us and say: "Hey, Jean, I hear you like to scuba dive!")  (Also, I realize that he'd like to learn to scuba dive someday and wants me to want that, too.)  (Fat chance of that ever happening).  We've already had a nice conversation.  I talked.

BH:  What did you talk about?  (His eyes sort of glaze over and I think it's because his phone buzzed, meaning he got an email and now he's itching to see what it's about)

Me: (making shit up) Whether roadkill squirrels are tastier than roadkill possums.

BH: (doesn't hear me)

Me: (goes back to the finance talk)

*THIS sort of thing is why together we look like a golf club and a bowling ball.  He's a foot taller than me and weighs less. 


  1. He never did a double take or asked about the roadkill later?! Too funny.

  2. How funny and vivid! Making shit up, ha, ha! And I can just see the other guy passing along the mushrooms to beloved husband, like, "Uh, here, dude, you can have these!"

    I remember flying Southwest Airlines a few years back, and it's a lot like a city bus in the air in that some of the seats are facing others so you're sitting in a loose group with people like on the bus. Unlike the city bus, they give out these tiny packets of peanuts, and I remember this one guy who didn't want his leaned over a couple of other people and handed them to me, without a word. I remember wondering why he chose me out of the entire group to bestow his snack upon. Maybe I looked hungry?

  3. Chris - he never even heard me. He gets lost - and focused - in his own little world sometimes :)

    Val - We do that to each other - say nonsense things just to see if the other is listening!

    The mushrooms are really their own story.

    I cannot imagine having to sit on an airplane facing other people (or flying backwards for that matter)! It's bad enough to have to sit NEXT to other people. *shivers melodramatically*

    Peanuts from a stranger. Weird. Although that sounds like a book title!

  4. "I cannot imagine having to sit on an airplane facing other people."

    It is pretty strange, ha, ha! I didn't actually know about this either until I'd boarded the plane, and then I'm standing there in the aisle, thinking, "Oh ... great ...."

  5. It's hard to ignore people when you are sitting face to face. I had to do that on a train in Europe, but luckily everyone was stonily silent and just read all the way to Paris. Worked for me.

    I hate morrels, mushrooms in general. Sounds like an "interesting" evening. I also hate work functions where you have to pretend to care about conversations you have zero interest in. I'd go for possum, slightly more meat and less stringy I think.

  6. I'm really good at ignoring people facing me over a table on a train. I get my book out and read.

    My sympathies for the difficult dinner conditions. I'm one of those people who finds it hard to hear anyone speak when there's background noise, even if they are standing or sitting right next to me. I've heard it described as "cocktail party deafness". So as you can imagine, I spend most of my time at 'dos' going "pardon" and "say again" and "I'm sorry I didn't hear that" until I eventually give up and lapse into benign nodding every time someone speaks to me. I could be agreeing with anything for all I know:

    Strange man: Want to come up to my room and fuck like bunnies?
    Me: Smiling and nodding.

  7. You didn't get better 'shrooms than that? WTF?

    Gawd, I hate small talk. Especially with near-strangers. I'm very good at looking attentive while my mind is miles away, but it gets taxing. Being expected to say something now and then makes it worse.

    JLA, on the other hand, will talk his nuts off to anybody who'll stand or sit still in his vicinity. It's very embarrassing. I have to carry this little scooper around. Then, inevitably, I have to nudge people's feet aside while I say, "I'm so sorry, but my yappy boyfriend has dropped his balls again. Please stop listening to him. This is the only pair he's got."


    "vinfendo" -- I believe that's the Italian version of Nintendo.

  8. Val: Are the seats so close that you kick each other?

    Tam: Since I'm pretty good at alienating people, I would probably be able to ignore them.

    Not a mushroom fan, either, except for the boring old button ones that you saute in garlic and olive oil.

    Possum, huh? Mebbe so.

  9. Jen: "Cocktail party deafness" - I may have to google that. Could be useful.

    I've done the nodding thing, too. I don't think I've ever been invited anywhere, tho'.

    KZ: Huh? Aren't morel shroom supposed to be amazing or something?

    Not sure if the yappy boyfriend thing is truly a curse. Both BH and I are introverts, which is why we often end up on the edge talking to each other. If he were outgoing at least he could drag me along for the ride.

  10. LOL, Wren! That is so me at dinner parties. I can't make small talk with people I don't know to save my life. Therefore, I avoid dinner parties if at all possible. Hubby doesn't even ask me to go to work functions anymore because he knows I hate them. Him, though - total social butterfly. He loves going to crap like that, and I'm very happy to give him a peck on the cheek and wave goodbye as he drives off to one.

  11. Hi Ava: Small talk = terror. I wish BH was a social butterfly, but he's not. I go because spouses are expected, and to keep him company while he holds up the wall!

  12. "Not sure if the yappy boyfriend thing is truly a curse."

    Believe me, it is. He'll leap right into politics whether his "listeners" give a crap or not and start pontificating. If he comes across another truck driver, it's even worse. He starts unwinding all his dusty old over-the-road stories, and I can't pull him away.

  13. Pontificating. Politics. Pbbbtth! You're right :)

  14. Wren, I am horrid at small talk! I'd be standing right beside you and your hubby holding up that wall.

  15. Eyre, hi! C'mon over. It's a pretty wall. And there are waitresses that bring drinks.

  16. Thanks Jen for finally putting a name to it. "cocktail party deafness"

    I've suffered from that horrid disease for years. I'm a nodder too which by the look on the other persons face hasn't always worked well.

    Wren, at least you're husband was talking to you. My hubby doesn't like to go out much but when he's arrived he's very social. Will talk to anyone about anything. I however am shy to the max. Round table business functions are definitely not something I look forward to.

  17. Lily - Nodding can get one in trouble. Blank looks aren't much better.

    I wonder if anybody enjoys those kinds of dinners? It's like we all play a game because we think it's what everybody else wants, but nobody really does.

    There've been times when BH does talk business, and then I am on my own. There should be pins we could wear to these things, so the shy folk can identify and hang out with each other!


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