Monday, July 27, 2009

The Ragu Lunch

My schedule said that this was the “Birds of a Feather” Lunch. It is to be held in the Sheraton Ballroom. You were supposed to find your blogging flock over lunch.

Already I’m in a bad place. I’ve not only missed that Speed Dating BlogHer style but now I’ve missed the morning’s breakout session. I had wanted to attend the Business of You seminar but I’d “spent too much time at the fair.” I knew no one and certainly I had no clue how to find my flock.

Perhaps it would have been easier if the name badges had been color coded. Then I could tell at a glance that someone was a food blogger or a mommy blogger. There were no tables that were marked GLT Bloggers or Political Bloggers. So I decided I would find a table, ask if they minded if I joined them and then try networking that way.

When I walked into the banquet room I noticed that a line with a HUGE bottle of Ragu at the end of a red carpet. The amazing thing about the Ragu bottle was that it was made entirely from vegetables sitting in pasta bowls. Speaking of vegetables the lovely centerpieces were also made of vegetables they use in their sauces. They used onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers

Each lady was allowed to walk down the red carpet; camera’s flashing and then takes a photo with the Ragu jar. Then it was over to the buffet table. I loved the fact that they chose to sponsor this meal because you got an idea about how tasty living within your budget can be. I really loved the upside down pizza and I can’t wait to make it for my husband.

I try to make myself take a seat at a table that’s already occupied as I walk to my table with salad and pasta in hand. The chairs were draped in spandex linen and the overall effect was striking. Habit took over as I proceeded to an empty table nearby. It’s an old trick. It keeps me from having to be the one to make the first awkward comment. Instead someone else will be the one who says, “Mind if I sit here and then I can invite them to sit and ask them about themselves.

I don’t’ have to wait too long. A woman approaches and asks if she can sit at my table and I smile a big smile. “Please sit. Hi. I’m Cathy and you are?” Self doubt is already beginning to rush forward. Did my greeting sound flat? Rehearsed? Maybe she just wants to eat and not be bothered.

She tells me her name and then we trade business cards. Almost as soon as we’ve spoken another woman joins us. She knows the other lady and I introduce myself to her. It turns out they are both food bloggers and dieticians. It appears I am not feathering my nest with people of my same genus.

I remind myself the lesson I learned when I was dating years ago. If you let the other people tell you about themselves and they will come away thinking you are great. So I ask questions and listen about their blogs. It’s great to talk to women around my age. It’s interesting to hear how their blogs came about. Then another woman joins us. Her name is Diana L. York. I remember that because I’m looking at her business card right now. She is the inventor of the slow cooker mate. You can make your whole meal in this one slow cooker.

Suddenly I forget my commitment to not speak out and I begin to bubble over about how exciting this was because I teach my students about having their own company. I complimented her about how much risk she took on to start her own business. I realized I sounded like a blithering idiot and so I shut my mouth when the next woman took her place at the table.

It turns out that she was with Amway. I tried not to let the name Amway color my impression of her. I just remember how it used to be when you had people calling you up and inviting you to their house but they wouldn’t tell you why they were inviting them. It was all so secretive and led you to believe you might be part of a pyramid scheme.

We talked about how Amway changed their name and tried to distance themselves from rogue reps. I did remember that the products were good and they were safe for the environment. Guess they were green before green was so cool.

We finished up lunch and I ran up to my room to try to get my blog ready for tomorrow. After all I still had some time before the afternoon's breakout sessions began.

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