Friday, October 9, 2015

My Dinner Companion

This week I am in beautiful Banff, a national park in Canada, accompanying my husband to an AHTD conference.  Although one guy told me it means, "Acquired Hyper-tension Disease," AHTD actually stands for "Association for High Tech Distributors." These affairs are old-hat for Jerry but it's a rare pleasure for me to join him.  Yes, I am totally out of my element here.  Meaningful conversation with the attendees will not be happening but I totally can socialize with the other spouses and we are staying in a castle in the mountains.  This luxury is not the normal world I inhabit but I am willing to adapt.

Beautiful Lake Louise
Photo courtesy of
Kathy Golubski

Last evening I found myself at dinner in a noisy restaurant sitting with a table full of strangers.  I was nervous because, as I said, I rarely attend these events and I'm totally clueless about almost any topic which they might discuss.  It's going to be a long, long night, fraught with mine-fields of dangerous opportunities in which I might unintentionally embarrass my significant other.  

The tension mounts.

I choose to forgo the cocktail and I get teased.  I stick to my guns.  I need my wits about me.

There are two other spouses at this table, but I am not sitting beside either one of them.  I am between Jerry and a gorgeous younger woman named Rhonda whom I initially thought was the host's wife.  Of course I didn't keep this assumption to myself.  The very first thing I said to her was, "How long have you and your husband been here?"  to which she chuckled and replied, "He's not my husband; he's my boss."

Oops.  Strike one.

In fairness to me, my husband's chosen career is male dominated so it was an honest mistake.  When you do come across a woman in this field though, you can bet your paycheck that she will be hard-working and as sharp as the blade of a well-honed knife.  Women who succeed in this industry are uber competent and dedicated; there is no express elevator to the top.  Because I know this, I am even more nervous than usual.

The guys were talking about football, or baseball or basketball - some sport.  I have nothing to contribute to this conversation so I'm only half-listening when this gal leans in my direction and says, "Do you like cocaine?"


To say that I was blindsided would be dramatic understatement. My mind froze. Where there was once brains, there are now just icicles.  I could feel the color drain out of my face.  How do I respond to this?  I knew - I just knew - that no matter what I said, it was going to be the wrong answer.

This is beyond awkward. 

After a pause that was far too long, I rose to the occasion.  I may not be in my element, but I have been a mother for almost forty years.  Within this timespan, there have been more than a few uncomfortable conversations.  I prepared for another.

Falling back on hard-won skills that parenthood has taught me, I looked her square in the face and, without flinching, I said, "Do I like cocaine?"

She burst out laughing.

"I'm from Kentucky," she said, "I said, 'Do you like UK?'"

The evening got a lot easier after that.

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