Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Expurgated Bits

Since it’s mid-August and everyone is on vacation, let me share a few stories from attendance at political events over the past almost six years of blogging, things that happened that I didn’t write about, for one reason or another. This isn’t a complete catalog – that will never see the light of day, but it is a few of the more memorable (good and bad) printable moments. Here for your amusement, divided into categories, are some of the expurgated bits.

The Food Channel

Hand eye coordination is a must in social settings, especially those involving food. Early on in my blogging career I attended a fundraiser at an art gallery, not a museum but a place that sold art. The carpets were tan; brownies were available at the refreshment table. It’s a bad combination. I was wandering around a small side section of the gallery, carrying a little paper plate with a brownie on it. I leaned over to look at a painting and realized the double ply plate had separated and the top plate and brownie were missing. Looking around I saw it on the floor – it had fallen and gotten caught on the heel of someone’s shoe. I put the toe of my shoe on the edge of the plate to pull it off the other person’s shoe without kicking them or calling attention to the situation. In the ensuing gymnastics it disappeared. I waited around until everyone had left, keeping an eye out and hoping it didn’t show up ground into the carpet, because you know it would leave a stain. When the section was empty I got down on hands and knees to look and found the plate and brownie under a sculpture case. Both went into the trash.

Most house parties are held at the homes of people who have more money than I do; it is the way of things. One event had a very nice sandwich buffet set out. I went back and forth from my seat to the table a couple of times, for a plate, for a glass, etc. After the second or third trip I realized a slice of tomato had gotten stuck on the bottom of my shoe and I’d been tracking it over a carpet that probably cost more than my annual salary. It didn’t appear to have left a mark. I felt very badly about it, but not badly enough to tell the hostess.

Blue Highways

More often than I care to admit I’ve set out to attend a political event only to drive around and never be able to find it. After one particularly frustrating drive, which ended successfully but required pulling over to check the map several times, my family got me a gps system, which has helped tremendously. But it is very embarrassing to come home and tell Mr. J, when he asks how it went, that it probably went well but I’ll never know.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Most of the people who attend political events are male. Again, that’s just the way things are. This also has led to a few awkward situations. Stray women showing up at local events, state house or senate, where most of the people know each other, can make people uncomfortable and this is expressed in a variety of ways. Like the gentleman who told me not to “sit there looking dumb.” I can’t remember what it was he thought I should be doing – talking to people, signing in, something like that., but I stayed put.

I often end up sitting at tables with people I don’t know. While I try to join other women that sometimes isn’t an option. And so at one event I ended up at a table with three gentlemen who had clearly visited the bar more than once. We exchanged a few casual remarks, hello, how is the food, etc. Then one of the men said that he had a pocket full of one dollar bills and if I would hop up on the table and dance he’d throw them at me. My first thought was of feminist outrage. The second was to wonder just how drunk they had to be to make this suggestion to a woman in her mid-40’s (it was a few years ago). The third was that this guy expected me to risk falling off the table and breaking a hip for ONE dollar bills? I laughed it off and fortunately right after that a candidate came and sat at the table. I took one of his flyers and grilled him on every one of his policy statements. It was probably a miserable meal for him but it allowed me the option of not interacting with the charmers on the other side of the table.

Sitting at a debate I noticed there was a scent in the area, probably someone’s cologne or perfume. As the event was breaking up I ran into a candidate and shook hands with him. Driving home in the car I could smell the same scent in the car. The man must have used a scented hand lotion or soap and it had transferred to my hands. In the close quarters of the car it was clearly a male scent. Having my husband ask me, later in the evening, why I smelled of pine forests gave me an unexpected sympathy for male politicos who go home trailing perfume or with lipstick on their cheek.

Dog Days

Often at house parties pets are more popular than the candidates. At one event a small dog worked the room very well. I struck up a friendship with him and we worked out a routine. When the dog was near me he would sit within arm’s reach. I would look him in the eye for 2 beats, then I would extend my hand, the dog would sniff it and then I would pet him. But once when the candidate was speaking my focus was divided and I waited 4 beats to extend my hand. That was too long for the dog who went off in a huff and made a point of visiting everyone in my part of the room but not me. It was a definite social cut. I was being dissed by a dog. Later in the evening the dog forgave me and let me pet him again. It was a very humbling experience.

Those are the stories I can tell. The rest are staying in the vault.

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