The second invitation I accepted this holiday season was from the professional organization for which I have a membership since last year. I was so grateful to have found this group as it offers a lot of personal benefits to me. These advantages are not only opportunities to meet and network with professionals in my chosen career, but also we attend conferences and symposiums which provide members a wealth of useful information there for the taking. Although I’ve always tried to participate in these educational events, however, never did I join them in merely casual alcohol tete-a-tete/party until the recent request.
When I arrived at the venue I couldn’t help feeling a little bit lost. I noticed immediately that the three tables reserved for the guests were all occupied by visitors seriously engaged in conversations. It occurred to me that people in academia could still appear to be cerebral, even on occasions like this. It also made me more conscious when I realized that my dress shoes were making a loud soundgasmic “klak, klak” so much that people turned their heads toward me. It was like having a stage curtain open up, and suddenly the spotlight was on me – except, of course, this was not theater, where everything was rehearsed. Thankfully, one of the officers of the organization spotted me immediately and gave me a big welcoming hug. It was a relief. What followed was greetings from a few more familiar faces.
Since almost all seats were taken from the first and second tables, I tactfully went to the third table where the club’s incoming-president was seated. After uttering the famous “hello”, I introduced myself to the other guests in the group while offering my hand to shake. Everyone was really friendly, thank God! What was a coincidence on this occasion was something my husband would later refer to as another blooper item in my playbook. If you were following my blog, most likely you have read a few of them already.
I sat next to a man who just introduced himself by his first name. This can be a problem when you go to a party without any friend in tow. You get surrounded by strangers; most of the time they talk about subjects you know nothing about. I’ve learned from experience though that the best defense you can do in situations like this is to either pretend to be a content listener or to find commonalities with them. I opted to go for the latter. I turned to the man next to me and asked what university he was connected with. He said USF. Voila! What a twist of faith, he was teaching in the same university I went to. So, without batting an eye, I asked him if he knew a professor I had taken. He looked at me and then tapped his wife’s hand who was sitting across from him. He asked her if they knew the man. Immediately I saw the puzzlement in his wife’s eyes. Her bewilderment didn’t escape the curiosity from other guests in the group. After a split second, one of them loudly uttered, “He’s the man you were asking about!” followed by an uproar of laughter. I turned red in embarrassment. I couldn’t believe it! The man I had flopped down next to was my former professor, and I had no clue. I guess it’s understandable that I didn’t know him because it was an online class and I only met him one time, but to ask him the question??? Well, I agree this gaffe must take a treasured place in my ever growing blooper playbook.
Have a happy and safe Holiday Season!