The conference itself is an annual event. I generally describe it as a conference of debauchery and business. For years, when I attended the conference, I would meet up with a friend and we would pretend to be a Conference Couple in order to avoid the aggressive advances from the opposite sex. In the past few years, I have not been able to find a fake conference boyfriend and instead behaved aloof and distant.
Last year, I took Dude with me. This year, I went solo.
You know how conferences go. Everyone gets together after the last workshop/plenary of the day and heads off to a restaurant. I missed the mass groupings for dinner. I walked to the lobby hoping to find someone as hungry as me. I found Old Guy. We ran into each other in the lobby and decided to head to the eatery together.During the walk he asked me repeatedly, "How are you," and "What is going on with you?" Normally, these polite questions would not be remarkable. In hindsight, because he began asking the two questions before we left the hotel and asked them several times more between the short romp to the eatery and before the waitress took our drink orders, I should have suspected early that something unusual was about to happen to me.
First, he reminded me that the 90s version of our professional conference was likened to going to Las Vegas. I agreed. I had been in my 20s. Attending the conference back then was a guaranteed fun time.
That is, until I began wearing long skirts, attending church regularly, and dating less frequently.During that period, I found my conference boyfriend and we would be a annual Conference Couple. I avoided passes by sexy philanderers and he avoided pinches by older, more aggressive, single women. After a few years of this, he moved onto a new job and I stopped socializing at the conference when I attended.
While I ate, he began a long story about how he has observed my personal and professional growth through our interactions at the conferences. I began to count the number of times OG poked me in the arm.
After I hit 15, I excused myself to find a co-worker from my department, who was at the conference and at the same restaurant.
I explained to my co-worker that OG was clearly drunk.I had had a whiff of his breath BEFORE our drinks had been delivered and realized that he was plastered. I asked the co-worker to find me before he left the restaurant to retrieve me.
|Okay, it wasn't really this bad. I just thought the pic was freakin' hilarious see more Lolcats and funny pictures|
I returned to OG and he finished his very long and painful story (I was up to 30 arm pokes) with "I am attracted to you." That took me out of my haze. I had heard him replay my accomplishments: starting as an adviser and being promoted to Director; being a grant employee and now having written a high scoring grant application; and renting to owning a house. I knew all of these things, of course, it was a little odd having him recount them to me. I thought he was going to suggest that I run for an elected position in the association. His admission deflated my ego, just a bit.
I casually retrieved my cell phone and sent a text message to my co-worker.
Find me, NOW!
I have known this colleague since I began in the association 14 years ago. I have worked with him on numerous committees, I believe he is at least 15 years my senior. I refer to him as Old Guy for that reason. Knowing that I am approaching 40, I am in no way indicating that I am not old to some of the newer members of the association. I am not hitting on them either.
Later my co-worker would tell me that he could not find me at the restaurant.He did not get my text until after he had left. He asked me how did I end the dinner. I told him that I simply stood up and announced that I was ready to go. Try it next time you are on an awkward date. It works.
GAWD I hate being single