One of Primo's big political contacts bought a $1,000 table for a political event and invited Primo and me.
I wanted to say no right away, because who in her right mind would want to spend four hours on a worknight at a political event? I don't even want to do something fun with people I like for four hours on a worknight. I certainly don't want to do something boring with a bunch of strangers.
But this contact - let's call him Bernard - has been so good to Primo. He and his wife have supported Primo's campaigns by donating time and money and by introducing him to Powerful People.
I want Primo to talk to Bernard about getting a political job after the election is over.
(There are some people who have said, "But he might win the election!" Right! And pigs might fly!)
Primo hates the idea of that kind of networking. He has never had to work to find a job - they have pretty much come to him via his network, which he doesn't think of as a network, but what do you call it when your former boss goes to work at Apple and then recruits you to follow him there? That, my friend, is networking.
And then there is the networking I want Primo to do: To talk to the people he knows, tell them he is thinking of quitting his job (the very idea of which gives me hives), that he wants a paid job in politics, and do they have any ideas?
Primo is horrified by this concept.
1. "How can I look for a new job while I still have a job? I am BUSY!"
Me: Welcome to the rest of the world.
2. "How can I even talk about a new job if I am not prepared to start one?"
Me, again: Welcome to the rest of the world.
I told Primo I would attend the event only if he promised to talk to Bernard about a paid political job. I also said that this counted as one of the three political events I will participate in during the campaign.
I met him at the place after work. It was jam packed with political people. I didn't recognize most of the faces, but I knew a lot of the names. I found Primo, took a deep breath, and prepared to endure boredom with a smile.
Honestly, I do not know how most political spouses endure this. You are not as "on" as the candidate, but what you do reflects on the candidate, so you cannot stand in the corner and read "Ask a Manager" or bbc.com on your phone. You have to smile and be polite and be engaged even when you would rather be at home cleaning the bathroom.
A waiter presented a tray of bacon pizza. I took a napkin and a slice and ate it. At least the food was good. That is a rarity at political events in my experience.
Another waiter presented a tray of crostini with black olives. I took one and ate it.
Another waiter presented a tray of little curried chicken sandwiches. I took one and ate it.
When the waiter presented a tray of mini hamburgers, I asked, "What's for supper? I don't want to spoil my appetite." [I was being polite - I really didn't want to waste eating on appetizers if supper was going to be fabulous, but if supper was just broiled dry chicken breasts, then I wanted two hamburgers.]
"There is no supper! It's only appetizers," the waiter told me.
Whaaat? One hundred twenty five dollars a person for an event that starts at 5:30 p.m. and there is NO SUPPER??
I grabbed a hamburger - because it would have looked greedy to take two, but I was already looking for the next waiter with a tray - and rushed over to Primo to inform him. He started stockpiling appetizers, too.
Primo wanted to talk to some political people about boring political stuff, so I found a little cocktail table, put down my food, and got out my phone. I had already met and greeted at least five people, which is about all I can take. I wanted to check facebook and look at some of my favorite blogs and read the paper.
I sat there for 47 seconds, happily ensconced in a world that does not require me to interact with other people, before Bernard's wife came up to the table to talk to me.
She is a lovely woman, Mrs. Bernard is. Again, she and Mr Bernard have been nothing but gracious and helpful and encouraging to Primo. But I didn't want to talk to anyone.
People kept coming up to say hi to her. She would introduce me. I figured out pretty quickly I had to stop eating.
Mrs Bernard introduced me to Sally Dighby. "Oh!" Sally said. "Your books are always next to mine on the hold shelf at the library!"
I finally gave up on eating and wrapped my cheese and crackers and little mousses (little mice?) in napkins and slid them into my purse.
Yes, I am an 80 year old woman who grew up during the Depression.
Primo found me. We sat at a table with the firefighters next to what must have been a table of women who had just attended a perfume convention. They stank so much that I got the piece of silk that I cut from Primo's silk boxers that he put in the dryer even though I told him not to and that I use for cleaning my glasses out of my purse and held it over my nose as a filter.
It didn't work very well. I had to choose between suffocating from lack of air and suffocating from an abundance of perfume.
Then the speechifying started. It started at 7:10 and didn't end until 8:45. It was supposed to end at 8:30, but what's 15 minutes of my time - my precious, non-work, non-sleep time to a politician? Nothing, that's what it is. Nothing.
There were opening remarks for the opening remarks. Then there were introductions. The introductions started at 7:20 and went on until 7:40. First, it was people by name. "And Prunella Scales! Please stand, Prunella!" "And Bartleby! Please stand, Bartleby!" "Is Nichole Nickleby here? Stand up, Nichole!"
After each introduction, there was clapping.
Then the group introductions.
"Anyone who graduated from our campaign prep class, please stand!"
"Any elected official, please stand!"
I leaned over to Primo and said, "I'm surprised they haven't introduced you yet."
He laughed. "They're not going to introduce me!"
"Anyone who is running for office! Please stand!"
Primo laughed again and stood. "I told you so!" I whispered.
The firefighters were all playing with their phones. They were bored, too.
"Anyone in a union, please stand!"
The firefighters looked startled. Put down their phones. Stood.
"And last of all, Blah Blah Blah, the trailblazer!"
Thunderous applause. Everyone stood. I had no idea who we were standing for. I overheard one of the firefighters say, "F if I know. I couldn't hear the name." But he stood and clapped just the same.
Everyone sat down. I scratched "Recognition and acknowledgements" off the program. Only nine sections to go.
The talking did not stop. After the tribute to the honoree - wait, after the video of the honoree, there was the tribute. Then there was a taped message from the governor. Photos of the honoree with the president. Video of the honoree with the president.
Then an introduction of the woman who was going to introduce the honoree.
Yes, you read that correctly. The woman who was going to introduce the honoree got her own introduction, an introduction that went on way too long.
Finally, the honoree spoke. She was funny - she said, "It's 8:20 and we're supposed to end at 8:30. I believe, as the reverend said, in ending things the same day they got started."
Except she spoke until 8:40. Bless her heart. Her speech was good. She is funny and charismatic. She didn't say anything too controversial - it was along the lines of "rape is bad" and "being hungry really stinks." Who can disagree with those statements?
When I lived in Memphis, a small food co-op opened in my neighborhood. They put a sign in the window that said, "Against rape."
I silently applauded them for their bold stance. Pretty risky to be that bold. The pro-rape forces are so strong and so politically connected.
They also sold Zapatista coffee, the irony of which probably eluded them.
But honoree finally stopped speaking. Everyone stood to applaud. Even I stood, not so much because I wanted to honor her but because I wanted to get out. I grabbed my purse and started walking - and another person GOT ON STAGE.
A few people sat, but others continued to stand and to prepare to leave. Then to walk out.
SHE KEPT TALKING.
Bless her heart, she was giving the credits: "We want to thank Nigella Lawson for the awesome video montage! And we want to thank Rachel Ray for doing the catering! Let's give Rachel a round of applause!"
She named the person who had done the flowers. The volunteers who had staffed the registration tables. More people. I don't know who. I stopped listening. The poor woman was so oblivious to body language - or so desperate to continue because she HAD A SCRIPT - that she didn't know everyone was ignoring her.
I took the chance to grab four bunches of roses from the centerpieces. At least the night was not a complete waste.