I have a work event tonight. You hear that phrase often in adult life: We were at this “work event” or I have a “client dinner” or it was a “business function”. People who aren’t assholes tend to keep it professionally vague. People who are assholes add fun details like, we were at this work event at THE RITZ or I have a client dinner at NOBU or it was a business function for TRUMP. You see the difference.
Tonight I have a work event involving a cocktail party and a play with clients who support my company, the Tribeca Film Festival (I’m a little bit of an asshole). This means I have to dress up, drink appropriately, and watch my mouth. I also have to not flirt or reveal any confidential information and make like I know a lot about independent film. “Client cocktailing,” says Cindy Adams, gossip maven of the New York Post and professional drinker, “is an acquired skill.”
So far, I’m still acquiring. Not to say that I don’t enjoy dressing up and drinking (even appropriately) over passed appetizers in fun settings. I just still feel like I felt the first time I went to a restaurant with friends sans parents – like I’m pretending and everyone knows it.
Here’s my progress thus far:
The drinking part: Four drink minimum, three if Vodka is involved. Nothing resembling a drink I once mixed on the floor of Keyes South. I defer to a dirty martini because people (men) always say, “niiice” when you order those. I know, no flirting…
The eating part: Holding a small plate and glass while attempting to eat off said plate is like a sick joke. Impossible. I’ve given up on plates and anything requiring more than one bite. Shrimp with tails intact does not count – too akward. I have also developed a sincere yet grave look I give to waiters as they walk around with the passed appetizers. It says, “I’m starving, come back often and quickly” but with a lot of charm. Who decided dinner was optional and what do they weigh?
The what to say to clients part: Frankly, it’s unnatural. I don’t know these people. Also we’re likely involved some form of contract or money dispute where we have to behave like we like each other but with that distinct edge of, “I could end you in a hot minute.” It’s terrifying. I focus on non-political current events, issues involving the majority of New York City, or the weather.
-Ugh can you believe the California fires? Just terrible…
-So we’re finally getting that 2nd Avenue subway – about time!
-I can’t remember when it was this windy.
It’s a far cry from what I’m really inclined to say, even on those same topics:
-Ugh fucking Bush thinks $600 bucks is going to jump start the economy. Should have moved to Cananda after that last election…
-So I went to this fantastic karaoke bar on the Lower East Side last weekend. Expensive as shit but I was too blacked out to care!
-I can’t remember how cold it used to be when I was in college in Boston – 2.5 short years ago.
Those are just the basics. There’s the remembering people’s names part, the being sure to treat the very important people very importantly, and the answering all questions about my job in as cheery a manner as possible. They should teach courses in this. Or is that what’s going on at business school?…
For now I just try to smile politely, shake hands firmly, keep the jokes to a minimum, and glide through the event with the advice of Mrs. Schumacher, my 3rd grade teacher, in mind: “Make yourself memorable,” she’d say.
Ok maybe just two if vodka is involved…