The Award for ‘Pathetic and Desperate’ Goes To…

Awards.  Recognition for achievement.  For goodness.  For professional and community accomplishments.  For being a “good animal”.

Awards Banquets.  Rubber chicken and peas.  Cash bars.  Enthusiasm for deserving friends and colleagues.  Casual adults awkwardly formalized for a special event.  

Last week, a friend was recognized with a prestigious organizational honor – Technical Fellow.  Wanting to cheer him on, i was happy to buy my ticket to show my enthusiastic support!  Despite the glitches getting out the door, i arrived on time.  Right at the start of the cocktail reception.  i’ve found it’s always best to drink a bit at these things…

Hoping to block a table for our cheering squad, i was surprised to find “assigned” seating.  Crap.  i went to my table – Lucky 16 – and tossed a napkin over the back of the seat to nail down the best seat, closest to the bar.  And proceeded to wander off, congratulate the winner and his family, and grab a drink…

The venue filled.  Tongues were loosened, backs were slapped, and festive gossip exchanged.  Time to sit down – and my first chance to meet my table mates for the evening.  Je-aysoos Ke-rist on a Podium!  On my right?  A annoying former colleague with his third wife.  His second wife was a pretty good friend, and i hadn’t realized they divorced.  Awkward.  On my left?  Our organizational corporate development officer (CDO), who was physically wrapped around her apparent date for the evening – the Operations Chief from Organization Y.

Looking over at the next table, i noticed my office folks – people i truly enjoy!  A Redneck PhD who is our division Tech Director.  Snarky, direct and big fun!  Oooh – an empty seat next to him!  On the other side of the vacant seat?  The Big Man!  PhD Physicist from Alabama – who is always a delight!  DOUBLE CRAP!  Too rude at this point for me to get up and move…

The formalities began, and it wasn’t until the invocation that i caught my tactical error.  During the prayer, while others had their heads bowed, i was staring blankly into space, humming a Joe Cocker tune, and thinking through my “to do” list for the next day*.  And noticed that i was at Table 17.  Furtive glance to my right… That empty seat?  An abandoned blue napkin was perched on the back.  It was mine.  DAMN, DAMN, DAMN!  Stuck… Trapped, like a politician in an airport toilet stall…

The meal might have been pleasant.  Colleague to my right was fine – we talked about past projects, his new wife seemed bright and engaging.  To my left?  Ms. CDO was incessantly groping her date – a tall ‘suit’, who couldn’t be a bigger professional zero if he were made of cellophane.  Ms. CDO?  Divorced mother of several.  Doesn’t just sweat desperation – it comes from every orifice, Ebola-like. 

We had one brief conversation about a year ago – regarding being single and mid-40’s.  i mentioned that i was having a good time dating many gentlemen and doing my own thing.  She wanted to meet for lunch – because she was having a hard time meeting men.  Tempting to tell her to stop bringing her living room furniture along on the second date and perhaps things would go a bit better…  Somehow never managed to get that lunch on my calendar…

Mid-way through dinner, i was compelled to send an e-mail to my friend, the goose-slayer.  “I paid $33 to watch CDO eat dinner with her arm wrapped around the thigh of your counterpart in Organization Y”.  His reply: “Ha!  I got that for free at a formal dinner last week”.

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* i’ve already conceded eternity in hell.  why fake it?

Parental paybacks…

The Boy and The Girl came to town today to join me at an awards ceremony.   Patient and graceful, they sat through an interminable presentation, which followed a soul-crushing splendid dinner of rubberized chicken and partially thawed green beans, on a bed of Uncle Ben’s Instant wild rice, smothered in completely unrecognizable white sauce. 

They endured the evening, surrounded by about 100 local nerds, their doting wives and a few scattered children, as eight engineers and scientists were honored for geek-tastic achievement.  Presentations mired in scientific minutiae, photos of smiling families on vacation and proud pictures of honorees with grandchildren… oh, and in some cases, every other word was an unintelligible acronym*.

They made the best of it.  The Girl was happy to slug back the house wine while admiring the high style of the attendees**.  The Boy discreetly escaped for a couple smoke breaks to disrupt the drudgery.  The event started early (5:30) in order to finish in time for the overwhelmingly geriatric crowd to be home and in bed before the 10:00 pm news. 

The Boy planned to find a bored spouse and entice her to get him hammered with “Evening, Ma’am.  I’m sure you’d like to buy me a beverage at the bar.  Funny, but i seem to have forgotten my ID…”.  It wasn’t necessary – the guilt overpowered me, and i smuggled a few beers back to our table to help him pass the time and further numb his senses.

Why did they do it?  Why did i ask them to to?  That horrifying moment during the presentation when there is acknowledgement of the loving wife.  Posing for photographs after the event, the supportive and beaming spouse there beside her humble, appreciative man… The only woman in this batch***, it was awkward enough not having a wife, let alone a husband. 

All of those soccer games, school recitals and fund-raising events i attended all those years?  Time to call it in…

Until i teach the fucking dog to wear a tux and hang a medal around my neck, they are going to have to suck this shit up.  I’ll keep buying the booze…

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* Guilty.  Mine was probably the worst… 

** Hiking boots with a suit.  Sweet….

*** To pass the time, i counted.  only 10 testosterone-deficient recipients among the 400+ going back to 1971.  She-it…  Still a man’s world…

Aw, shucks…

Surprised by this, but it feels good…  thanks bob for the nomination.

I’m not pimping for votes, but if you decide to do so, be sure to read this entry from Reluctant Memsahib.  Simply breathtaking…  It’ll get my top vote.

Oh, and this one from Non-Working Monkey is pretty brilliant, too.

And my third place vote?  Gotta go with FWENGEBOLA’s contraband.

I’m grateful, but feeling rather unworthy to be shortlisted in such remarkable company… there’s some good shit out there….