Our dinner with Olivier and family in Paris may have been my most awkward, but there have been some other odd meals. Let’s see, there was an interesting turn of events last fall while attending a conference in Atlanta. Some of you may remember a board game called “Mystery Date”. The board had a big door in the middle where after various trips and turns your very own mystery date would be waiting.
That has very little to do with what I want to tell you, but it was fun to throw it in there. And I did kind of end up on a mystery date. Anyway, one evening the DC chapter folks were all meeting in the hotel lobby, which takes quite a few minutes because as soon as the last person you’re waiting for comes down, you realize you’ve lost the first five people who had been milling around. We finally got our act together and walked over to the restaurant. I found myself walking with a woman I’d never met; she introduced herself and told me she was from a chapter in Florida. Huh. I figured someone invited her along.
I truly don’t remember her name but she seemed like a Betty. Betty was aggressively over-tanned, sported some pretty big hair, and wore a shade of lipstick that reminded me of Bubble Yum. But maybe that’s because she was also chomping on gum. She seemed to be wearing clothing a size or three too small, and heels that were four or six inches too high. It was a whole lotta look. But I don’t judge.
We got to the restaurant and what do you know my new BFF Betty had chosen a seat right next to mine. After we ordered I asked her a couple of polite generic questions, and that was all she needed to launch into the story of her life, which is annoying because clearly everyone was more interested in my life.
Betty’s tale was certainly interesting though. We started with her living in Idaho or Montana or some other alien place with her high school sweetheart. They were married for a while but then he got sick and died. Yes, it’s sad, but whatever, it’s not like I knew the guy. Although, by the time she was done I could tell you how he liked his coffee and his favorite flavor of ice cream. But like I said, he’s kind of expired now so I’m probably not going to be fixing him coffee or anything.
Betty pulled herself together and moved to West Dakota or something, where she met man number two. When she finished that story I knew her second husband preferred tea and frozen yogurt to coffee and ice cream, and that he too had died or left her or jumped off a bridge or something. Perhaps I could have been more sensitive, but I was nodding off by then.
I saw an opening and turned around to start a conversation with someone else, but it wasn’t long until I was back in her grips. Okey dokey, husband number 3, which is what, or who I guess, brought her to lovely southern Florida. I was about to doze off again but realized she was telling me something vaguely interesting. It turns out she met victim number 3 on the internet. It was romantic and exciting and between chatting online and talking on the phone their love deepened and developed like a fine wine, or some crap like that. So she moved to Florida and married him. Huh? Yes, they knew they were meant for each other so about a month after meeting him they went ahead and got hitched.
I know I watch a lot of television and have a vivid imagination, but I couldn’t help wondering if he was a serial killer or an ax murderer or just a garden variety scammer. I said that was a big leap of faith and asked if she had done a background check on him or anything. So you already know that she didn’t, right? Then again, didn’t she already have two husbands who vanished? Maybe he’s the one who should have run a background check.
Either way, right back to awkward-ville with me smiling and nodding my head and feeling like she spoke another language. The last thing I asked was how she had hooked up with the DC chapter? Well, she didn’t seem to get the email about her own chapter dinner (there’s a big surprise) and she saw us hanging in the lobby and it seemed like we were having so much fun she decided to join us. A fully unilateral decision.
I went back to nodding and smiling…seemed like the safest retreat.