Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Command Performance

I was informed at 1:30 this afternoon that I would be accompanying my boss, his wife, and a client, plus her "personal interest" (aka, much older boyfriend) to dinner. When I got up this morning, I could not find an outfit to wear because I need to do laundry. I ended up wearing my favorite slacks and a light, loose fitting summer sweater. Nice enough for our casual office on a warm day, but certainly not nice enough to go out to dinner with a client in. It was a hot day, I was sweaty, and overall really would have preferred to go home, change, wash my face and re-apply some eye shadow and lipstick, but I knew that would never happen.

So, instead, I went to a thrift shop around the corner on the off chance that they might have a nice shirt or sweater that I could douse in Downy Wrinkle Remover and make-do with. And, lo and behold, the gods shone favorably on me: not only did they have a sweet black sleeveless sweater, it was on sale for half price. I also picked up a lilac blouse that I will wear to work but never to socialize because it's very nice, but very "middle management". That, however, is another story. I stopped at CVS and bought some eyeshadow. Shortly before the end of the day, I slipped off to the ladies' room, where I washed my face with bathroom soap (ewww), moisturized with the hand lotion I keep in my bag (sigh), used the new eyeshadow (which I would have needed to buy soon anyway to replace my old one) and then turned my lipstick into "creme blush" (Necessity is the Mother of Invention) and used another, darker shade for my lips. Then I switched sweaters, steeled my nerves and was ready to go.

Felix drives like a lunatic. Like a lunatic who should never have been released from the asylum on a weekend pass. I was frantically pumping my passenger side air brake most of the way to his house. I don't think he noticed, though, since he was busy enlightening me on some obscure point of judaic belief and the story of a man he represented who was a falashe (I think that's how to say it).

We were greeted at the door by two enormous black dogs barking their heads off, but they were all bark and no bite at all-- once we opened the door, they pushed and shoved to get to me for petting and scratching of the ears. I am such a sucker for animals and in short order, those nice slacks were coated in black hair. Sigh.

I met Felix's wife, who seems much more down to earth than Felix is. And it's about this point in the evening that things got... I wanted to say "weird", but that would imply that it was out of the ordinary. Frankly, almost nothing that happens in connection with work or especially Felix surprises me anymore. Not that that's a bad thing-- I like the excitement and probably have some sort of sado-masochistic tendencies in seeking employment from places that are like this. So, seen in that light, I suppose the events of the evening were simply par for the course.

After meeting Felix's wife, I was then introduced to the man they are hiring to paint the house. Ex-hippie who is probably not reporting the vast majority of his income to the IRS, you know the type. Seems like a nice enough guy, though I'm not sure I would be terribly comfortable hiring him to paint my home while I'm gone on vacation. But, then, it's not really my decision, now, is it? Felix poured a glass of wine for us all-- painter included. The dogs were in hysterics over not one but TWO strangers in the house, both willing to be generous with the love. But no sign of the client who this whole thing was supposed to be in honor of. Meanwhile, Felix starts trying to push champagne on us.

An hour of loud conversation, mostly between Felix and the painter, and numerous phone calls later, the "personal interest" of the client shows up. He is obviously very anxious about the whole deal and makes much to do about a declaration of his intentions and expectations. Felix tries to soothe him. The Personal Interest keeps saying that he's convinced, but his body language says otherwise. Felix keeps bringing out autographed books written by the many scientists who are past clients of his and telling him about the near perfect record of approvals our office has. Finally, the man seems more or less convinced. He decides that, since the client was not able to join us, he shouldn't go out to dinner with us after all. All that fuss for nothing.

On a side note, during his "declaration", the personal interest mentioned several times that he expects to be named to a certain key anit-terrorism post by the end of the summer. I'll be interested to see if that turns out to be the case or if he was just blowing smoke.

So, the next thing you know, Felix and his wife are walking up the block with me to a little italian restaurant. They are friends with the owner and he was holding a table for us. He turned out to be the stereotypical Italian man, kissing everyone in sight, proclaiming loudly that he couldn't believe how beautiful I am, and so on. He sat and talked to us for a while, and I have to admit that I was quite taken with him.

We ordered a bottle of wine from the owners own vineyard back in Italy. All I can say is, wow. It was so good, smooth and dark, but not bitter at all. And there was just something so cool about the idea of drinking wine grown by the man sitting next to you at the table. I mean, I've never met Robert Mondavi, so that's just not the same, you know? Then the food came, and let me tell you, I nearly forgot about the wine. This was, without a doubt, the best Italian I've ever had.

The conversation wasn't as difficult as I had worried it might be. I've always gotten on far better with men than with other women for whatever reason-- though it's worth noting that my closest friends have nonetheless been women. But I enjoyed talking to Felix's wife quite a lot. We even managed to keep Felix from dominating the conversation, which was no small feat. It's not that he's overbearing, it's just that he's so damned enthusiastic, it can be hard to get a word in edgewise.

The restaurant was quite close to a Metro station, and I planned to simply ride the Metro back home and walk to the house, which isn't far at all. Felix would hear nothing of it, but insisted that I take a cab back at the firm's expense. Fine by me! He tried to hail a cab right in front of the restaurant, but all of the (D.C.) drivers claimed never to have heard of the (very large) Metro station I live near. Finally, it was agreed that I would take the Metro to the office and have the Concierge get me a cab to Rockville.

Did you ever read Ramona Quimby, Age 8? Ramona gets sick at school and her mother comes to pick her up in a taxi. Despite the fact that she is sick and upset, Ramona is thrilled to have the chance to ride in the taxi like a real grown up. I totally felt that way. I'd never ridden in a taxi before. It was really exciting, in a sad and demented way, to go up to the Concierge, flash a brilliant smile at him, and ask for a taxi to Rockville. Then I got in the cab and told the man where to take me, just like a real grown up. And he took off like a bat out of hell, which was exciting for about two minutes. After that, all I could think was I would have been safer walking home from the Metro!

I am having the best summer job experience ever.


At 6:39 PM , Blogger vesna said...

you can't be serious?! this was your very first time?!


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