It’s that time of year, back to back lunches, dinners, cocktail parties, and other assorted events. I will admit I love them all! I don’t usually have an actual life, but this week I went to a party on Tuesday night, and a lunch today. I also went to an event last Tuesday night. Many of the guests overlapped among all three events; don’t be alarmed, but we’re talking about room after room full of legal administrators.
Naturally, we all try to mingle and chat with a different group of people at each event. Some of you may remember my September 1 blog about greetings in the workplace; first time each day full smile, fourth time a nod and a half smile, etc. There are unspoken rules that everyone understands. Unfortunately, I’m still in the dark about some of the finer points of etiquette.
What if, for example, you see someone out of the corner of your eye whom you’ve known for 15 years, possibly more. You manage to make your way over to the person without spilling too much of your drink, and when you finally get there to say hello, they give you a nod and a “hey” and go back to their conversation. You are going right in for the hug, and suddenly you’re standing there looking awkward and you have to play it off and pretend that you were just stretching your arms. It would never happen to me of course, but I’ve seen others fall prey.
How about if you see someone you don’t know particularly well, but you’ve been bumping into each other at 4 parties a year for the last 12 years. Yes, that’s 48 times you’ve stood in line at the bar and chatted with this person. There he is, standing in front of you in the buffet line, and you give him a medium smile, double eyebrow raise and a “hey, how’s it going?” He reaches out to shake your hand and says “Hi, I’m Greg, so nice to meet you.” Glare. “Well yes Greg, I believe we’re meeting each other for the 48th time. But hey, who’s counting?”
Of course there are always a few OSIPs (Obnoxiously Self-Important People) who may deign to speak with you but are constantly scanning around for someone more important to schmooze. Maybe you test the waters and mention that you just got a pet walrus and put 2 of your 3 kids up for adoption because they’re cramping your style. When you get a “hmmm, that’s nice” in response at least you’ll know where you stand. Of course, you can always go for the fake out and wave to an imaginary person in the back of the room that’s just dying to talk to you. Maybe two air kisses and a “ciao darling?”
At today’s lunch, everything was going splendidly. Full smiles, half smiles, nods and eyebrow raises flying, and lots of hugs. My friend and I saw two spots together at one of the tables and settled down. I was eyeballing the salad and rejoicing at the little chocolate bars at each place setting, and hey, maybe I even glanced around for empty seats so I could harvest more little candy bars. What of it?
Just as we relax and settle in, someone taps us on the shoulder and tells us we’re sitting at a super-exclusive, VIP reserved table. Cool! High five to us! Wait, what was that? We have to move so the “real” VIPs can all glom together at their oh so special tables? Okey dokey then.
So much for sitting together, because by then there weren’t 2 seats together anywhere. We parted tearfully and vowed to talk after the lunch. We both landed at great tables with friends we hadn’t seen for a while, so it’s all good, but about halfway through lunch, my friend snuck over and whispered that I should blog about our unceremonious removal from the table.
Righto. It’s official, we are VUPs (Very Unimportant People) and should be prepared for a frown, a single eyebrow raise, and a smirk as VIPs shoo us from the table. My friend and I give a big fake smile and a head tilt, and narrow our eyes just enough to show that we’re hip to the game.