"Do you know where... the toilets are?"
Monday night, against my better judgment, I attended an industry networking event. Ahem, excuse me, this was "not a networking event!" It was an exercise in "community-building!"
Enter HomeValley. I've just trekked to the corner of 9th Avenue and Hell from Chelsea. I'm covered in a fresh layer of sweat, my feet are swollen and aching in my stilettos, and I can't get to the cash bar fast enough. I throw down eight dollars for a vodka and soda in a dixie cup, and make my way into the dimly lit room to commence building community.
I've convinced Pop Star to meet me for a quick drink before his date this evening, but I am not expecting him for another fifteen minutes, which is, in fact, eternity in this non-networking purgatory. I glance around and attempt to look friendly.
A minute passes. I make eye contact with a young woman wearing a black feather boa. She introduces herself to me as the host of the event. "Is this your first party?" She bubbles. I confirm this with a bright smile. "A virgin!" She exclaims. "That's great! I'm hear to make sure everyone is having a great time and to help you meet people!" Suddenly, she grabs a frightened-looking young man, squints to read his name tag, and introduces him to me.
"So you two can chat," she says. With a flip of her boa, she disappears.
"Hi." I smile. "Is this your first time?"
"Uh, no. I went to an event last week."
Awkward glance around room.
"So," I begin again. "What do you do?"
"Uh, financial reporting."
"Great! That sounds exciting!"
Awkward glance around room.
"Um, where's your office?" I ask.
I barely listen to his response. I am busy compiling a list of things I'd rather be doing than having this conversation. Gynecological exam. Root canal. Gauging own eye out with scalpel.
Mercifully, the conversational wizard leaves me alone soon after with my thoughts of self-mutilation. I scan the crowd and make eye contact with the only other person not ensconced in a group of chattering non-networkers.
Fuck it. I walk directly towards her, arm extended to shake her hand. "Hi there!" I say, and she responds in kind. Mandy is actually quite nice, so we grab a seat and begin talking about our jobs. I begin to feel slightly blue when I learn her career is much more interesting than mine. I nod casually as she utters the phrase, "And then, Peter Jennings said to me..." though I begin sinking deeper into job-related depression. Pop Star arrives and blissfully buys a round. We sit and talk to some strange cats. I break the rules and exchange contact info with Mandy. We finally make to leave after what seems like hours.
Email from Pop Star this morning: If I had heard that sketchy Puerto Rican guy say one more time how his daughter got into Penn on pure merit, while others use politics, I was going to kill him. At least you made a contact.
It is Wednesday now and I've made a full recovery, though I've given up any activities that involve going outside, save walking a few blocks to the gym. I am in real marathon training mode this week. I don't want anyone to get too excited, but after my entire family pointed and guffawed at me when my marathon training was announced last Sunday (like, really supportive, Mom) I've developed a new determination to prove everyone wrong.