Monday, July 27, 2009

Party Crasher

Do you remember that movie Wedding Crasher? These were two men who set out to crash weddings to pick up women. I remember a while back some guy was all over the news because he had the ability to crash almost any event. He had photos of himself at the Emmy’s, the Oscars, and even at an Inaugural Ball. It was all amazing and funny but I certainly never imagined myself to be a gate crasher.

Little did I realize that’s exactly what I had become. In the spirit of BlogHer it seemed that the possibilities and opportunities were endless. I had such a full social schedule and one event seemed to flow into the next event almost seamlessly.

So it was that at about 6 PM or so I thought I’d take a little walk out towards the pier to get some photos. As I walked our the door there were several other Bloggers and a woman stood ahead of us in the street saying “Hurry! The trolley is getting ready to go to the Witt".

I had no clue what she was saying but I heard something about getting on the trolley and I thought maybe I could use it to catch the couple of blocks over to the Navy Pier. While I was making up my mind, the woman holding the sign urged me to hurry. “Hurry or you will miss the trolley.” Well I didn’t want to miss the trolley. If it wasn’t going where I wanted it to go perhaps I could catch it back to the hotel. I assumed it was running a circular route throughout the night.

The seven or eight other ladies all seemed to know each other and they chose to sit in the back of the trolley and chat. I decided to sit near the trolley driver to ask about the next stop. What I didn’t realize was that there really was no next stop. This was THE stop. We had arrived and almost as soon as we got there we were greeted by another woman with a sign who told us that we needed a ticket and then we would be admitted to the party.

The Witt is located at 2913 North Lincoln Avenue which was not so far away from the hotel that I actually needed a trolley ride. Then again if you have a few drinks in you you would be glad to have this transportation so you didn't have to walk around Chicago drunk in the dark.

I wasn’t sure what party this was but I did know that I had one scheduled for the House of Blues at 7 PM. Perhaps, I thought, this is another party I had heard about and didn’t need an RSVP to attend. Maybe this was a party that I had RSVPed. After all it seemed as though I had RSVPed EVERY party just about.

There were several of those and no one seemed to be checking IDs. A group of people waited behind a velvet rope for their turn to enter the club, but we simply handed them the ticket we’d been given and were whisked away to this exclusive party overlooking the city.

This was one of those “I wish Darryl was here moments.” The elevator stopped at the appointed floor and a beautiful young woman offered me a cucumber Mojito. “No thank you,” I said. “I don’t like Mojitos.”

“You should try these,” she said. Being of the mind of not ordering any drink you know you won’t like because you would be wasting money, I told her no again. She almost looked disappointed. So I said, “Look how much are they?” I figured I could afford a drink in my swanky new surroundings and I might as well order one I liked. I was even wondering if a raspberry martini, a vodka and tonic, or a Bloody Mary would be appropriate for the setting in which I found myself.

The waitress assured me that it was open bar so I grabbed on of the Mojitos on the off chance I might actually like them.

I sauntered over to one of the couches to gaze down at the city of Chicago. It was yet another moment that I said, “Wow. This is how the other half lives.” This was the point where it was truly driven home to me that I really didn’t belong here. This was a private party and only meant for a few people. I was now officially a party crasher.

Sweepstakes and contests have provided me with opportunities to try things and go places that I never would have dared dreamed about. Now it appeared that blogging was doing the same thing. It was a Breakfast at Tiffany’s moment where I wished I was young, and fabulous, and everyone could just see me now. I lifted the glass to my lips and tried it. “I didn’t like it.”

Almost at that exact moment a waitress approached me with a spoon that contained some cream cheese and some salmon. “Would you like one?” she asked. “Uh sure,” I said trying to act as though I’m used to dining on food like this in places like this.

“Wow!” I thought. “Darryl would just love that. He’d ask me if I could make it at home and I would remind him how much salmon with such beautiful color as that cost. I could almost see him scowl. He feels when I say that I’m judging him and his ability to provide. I would get the standard lecture about being so materialistic when in fact I’m just appreciating the uniqueness of the moment.

I spied a bottle of champagne and reached for it. This was the perfect beverage for sitting atop this building with the Magnificent Mile at my feet. Before I could place my hand on the bottle a woman came running over to me and took the bottle from my hand. Perhaps they realized now that I didn’t belong. I hoped that they weren’t going to make a big issue of it. I hoped that they were just going to politely ask me to leave.

Instead the woman, another guest, said, “Here, let me pour that for you. It’s so much more special when someone else pours.” As my students would say, “True dat.”

Another waitress appeared and offered to take my dirty spoon and offer me a mini cheese burger that had been cut into quarters. I took one. Almost instantly I had the urge to chase her down and get three more. It was soooooo good.

The waitress that I originally encountered came by to ask me how I liked the Moito. I apologized to her because I just didn’t like it. “Tell me what you want. Tell me what you want and I will get it for you.” I decided on a raspberry martini and she told the bartender to make the best one he could so she could make it up to me that I didn’t like the Moito.

I took another sip of my champagne. I felt self conscious and out of place. The other women were younger than me and they all seemed to be clustered together. I wondered what time it was and how I was going to get back.

That’s when I chided myself for not having found out if there were any company representatives there. I had already figured out that this was a Suave party because there were Suave parties at various tables.

I spied the woman who’d poured my drink earlier. She was having her photo taken with that beautiful backdrop. I waited for the photograph to be over and then I wondered over to speak to her.

Most people who know me do not believe how difficult it is for me to talk to other people. I sometimes get myself so worked up that I almost feel like I will throw up. Having lived a life of being mocked and bullied throughout my school career and then surviving a violent marriage, I often believe that people have already written me off before the first words have been spoken. Sometimes it’s almost paralyzing and other times I wish I could walk around in a cloak of invisibility so that I did not have to interact with others.

Strange isn’t it that I would pick a career in education. I have to get up in front of an “audience” every day and keep their interest. I’m glad one of my teachers had pushed me to get into the drama club and the concert choir. I learned some coping mechanisms that help me but the fear still lingers. Over the years I have learned I’m not alone in this. There are many entertainers that still get bad attacks of stage fright too.

I smile and extend my hand to the woman as I introduce myself. I ask her if she knows if anyone is here from Suave. She assures me that there is and points to a lovely Asian woman with beautiful black hair. I tell myself I need to thank her for the party, tell her how wonderful it is, hand her my card as I make my pitch, and then ask for her card in return.

My stomach begins to knot and my heart to race. “What if she looks at my card and then realizes I wasn’t supposed to be here?” “Take chances.” I tell myself. “Take chances.” I’m always encouraging my kids, my husband, my students to take chances and now while my hands begin to sweat I remind myself that I should take chances too.

“Hi,” I say. “I’m Catherine C. and this is such a beautiful party.” She shakes my hand. In her left hand is a drink and I don’t know if I’m imagining that she’s looking right through me or at least over my shoulder in a disinterested way but that’s how I remember the interaction.

“You know,” I say. “I just LOVE Suave products. With Suave you don’t have to sacrifice quality for price.” Gosh do I really sound like a commercial? I reminded myself not to let the sentence hang in the wind. Let her know what I’m looking for. I’m looking for a company to sponsor giveaways on my site, to bring new readers to the bog I’m working so hard to create.

I pull out my card to hand it to her. “That’s why my readers love Suave. I have a thrifty living blog,, and your product is such a good fit because they know they can count on Suave to deliver salon quality products without breaking the bank.

Her hand barely misses mine as I try to hand her my card. “Well we really appreciate that and that’s why you were invited to come to this party.” She realizes then she didn’t get my card because she wasn’t paying attention. She takes it, eyeballs it for a second, and then thanks me for coming.

I have to be able to tell my students how I tried to do things that I was afraid of in order to build my “business”. I have to tell them how I approached people who might help me build my “business”. I stand there for a few moments reflecting what just occurred and realize that my audience with the rep was now over.

She has a life that I know nothing about. Perhaps she had a sick child at home but her boss required her to be there. Maybe she and her husband had an argument because she was required to attend this event. Maybe it was my imagination that she really wasn’t wanted to be anywhere else but here. Maybe the reason she was smiling and laughing with the two other women I saw her speaking with earlier is because she knows them. As always, I crawl back into myself and try to find a reason to gloss over a situation that didn’t go as I had hoped.

After all she wasn’t outright rude to me. I’m not certain how she might have acted any differently. It’s not like I expected her to grab my card and say, “Oh, you’re the Thrifty Maven. My friends and I go on your site EVERY DAY!!!! I’m so glad to meet you. Look we were looking for someone to run this great giveaway. It involves some Suave hair care products and a gift card. The Thrifty Maven would be PERFECT!!!”

I think what I was hoping for was for her to actually accept my card and perhaps glace at it. Everything else would have been icing on the cake.

The waitress comes around again with another round of tapas. I decline and polish off my martini. As I leave some asks me if I’m going. “Yes I have a couple of other parties to attend,” I reply. “My, aren’t you the party girl!” She says. “Why yes I am.” I say.

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