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I’m reposting this blog for Anna over at Anna Cottage just to let her know I KNOW what it feels like to not fit in with the IN crowd!!! (First posted November 14, 2014)

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Write about a time you were embarrassed. What happened? How did it make you feel?

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It’s finally over! For nearly a month now I have been dreading the formal banquet we had to attend where my husband was to present an award from his company. I was dreading it with good reason. Held at the Ogden Golf and Country Club each year, it is always well attended by all the more arrogant and ostentatious folks in the company, and is somewhat uncomfortable for those of us who are “budgetarily” challenged!

The problem began the very first year we were there. To begin with I was horribly under-dressed. I didn’t realize attending women were supposed to be wearing gowns by Gucci! (Does Gucci make gowns, or is that shoes? Oh, who cares!) And no, I suppose the battered old winter parka wasn’t exactly appropriate evening attire either. At any rate the trouble actually started as we were seated at the table just before dinner. Not being one to hobnob in hoity-toity social circles, the entire scene was very surreal for me.

pitcherThe servers all dressed in evening attire delivered the meal as one, as if the whole thing had been choreographed! All serving exactly the same thing at exactly the same time. It was then I noticed an odd water pitcher one of the waiters was holding. Now, being a person who believes if you don’t ask, you don’t learn, I simply turned to him and inquired as to why it had two spouts, one on each side.

Lordy! The collective intake of breath at the table nearly sucked my bleedin’ name tag off! And the poor woman next to me went deathly pale! At that moment  something in the back of my mind said, “Oops!” The waiter very kindly explained to me that it was so he could pour from either the left or right when standing between “patrons” at the table. I smiled my thanks, trying to look as invisible as possible, but the damage was already done. Apparently I had committed an unpardonable faux pas! And the lady  in the chair next to me actually half rose with the implied intent of scooting herself closer to the table, but managed to also move it sideways away from me a good two feet.

highlander jacketEver since then, and that was nearly 20 years ago, I have gotten practically sick to my stomach when these functions roll around. But NEVER AGAIN! I have finally found vindication! This year I was actually dressed in appropriate evening attire (she says sticking her nose in the air!). Long black sleeveless dress from Sears ($18), black button jacket with silver sequins from Walmart ($9), and cute but cheap flat dress shoes from Payless ($12). Still no fancy evening coat, but I did leave my black satin Highlander “There can be only one!” baseball jacket with the big sword across the back in the car, much to my husband’s relief.

The evening turned out to be quite enjoyable. There was entertainment, music and a comedian (who had me in stitches when he said he’d had diarrhea for three days before he finally figured out the potpourri his wife had left in the bathroom wasn’t trail mix). The food was great and some of the award presentations were very funny as well. I was extremely proud of my hubby! And I made it through the entire evening with no major social blunders!

Now it’s customary at the end of these functions for the table decorations to be given away. If you happened to find a little red sticker attached to the bottom of your chair, you were the lucky winner. Well, guess who won from OUR table! (Big shiny grin!) And the decorations were just beautiful! Tall elegant, crystal and cranberry glass candle holders that had been set on an oversized, gold dinner plate and surrounded by faux ice and other bits of finery and frippery. I just KNEW God was rewarding me for behaving like a lady for an entire evening. So I collected my prize and his lordship and I made ready to make our escape when suddenly standing in front of me was the self same pinched-face woman who had been sitting next to me that very first year.

(Now I must explain here that in the ensuring years since that first dinner, I have developed a love of all things Victorian and have subscribed to and read religiously Victorian Homes magazine. It is a treasure trove of everything from antiques to customs and manners.) So here we were at long last face to face once again, and it was more than obvious that, seeing the decorations in my hands, she had deliberately sought me out. I shuddered at the thought and could practically feel her squeeze the cheeks of her rear together so she could stand five inches taller than me and make the most of her exquisitely tailored suit. Then, in her most magnanimous and condescending manner, she spoke to me as if I were a four-year-old.

“Oh! I see you’ve won the decorations from your table,” says she smiling.

“Yes, I did,” I responded, knowing full well she was one of the two woman who had done the decorating. “And they were just lovely!” said I. “You did a beautiful job with the banquet room.”

“Well,” she continued, looking down at me, sighting along that slender, aristocratic, pointed nose as if it were a shotgun barrel, “You do know that the gold plate holding the candle is not meant to be eaten on. It is a…”

dinner charger

“Charger,” I interrupted her, finishing her sentence in my most silken voice, “and can give you lead poisoning. Yes, I know. Thank you very much for your concern.” That’s all I said, though a few other well-chosen words went through my mind!

She raised one brown, painted-on eyebrow and it took every ounce
of my self-control not to burst out laughin’ as she looked so taken aback. She closed her gaping mouth and glared at me then in near apoplexy as I stood there in my Walmart special, and she turned to my hubby and said, “Your wife is very smart!”

With that she put her tail between her legs and slunk away into the crowd. Good thing, too, as his lordship had absolutely NO idea what he was suppose to answer to that, being TOTALLY clueless that anything of major import had just happened!

As for me, I made it a point to stop and tell the other hostess what a beautiful job she had done, and I’m sure the smile on my face was worth a million words as I walked out to the car. I breathed a sigh of relief and slipped back into my Highlander jacket. You know, I don’t think I’ll dread it quite so much next year. And, by the way, the waiters have a new pitcher. It also has a spout on the front!  Guess what that’s for. Don’t look at me! I didn’t ask them!

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