Wednesday, June 6, 2007

This isn't my wife. This is my girlfriend.

A lot of people treat a trade show like a grown-up version of summer camp. It's their chance to get away from their families and pretend that their lives back home aren't really there. They create alternate relationship webs with people they see once a year, or a few times a year, on the trade show circuit.

For instance: At dinner last night, a man who my boss has known for years through trade shows introduced his companion to her at dinner. My boss smiled and said, "It's so nice to finally meet your wife."

His reply, "This isn't my wife. This is my girlfriend."

My boss gave a somewhat stunned smile.

"Really," he said. "No joke. My wife doesn't know about her."

"Oh, yes," said the companion. "And I have a husband, but he" -- she pointed to the man I've been discussing -- "isn't him."

And then there was the man who was sitting next to me. He was quite flirtatious in his conversation with me, though I at first did not know if this was his way of interacting with the world at large or if he had a specific ulterior motive. As he continued to sip his wine and inch his chair closer to mine, I began to discern the answer. When he began to whisper asides to me and took the liberty of touching my knee under the pretense that it was a somehow acceptable alternative to tapping someone on the shoulder, I knew it.

He was, of course, wearing a wedding band.

He said I was an excellent conversationalist and he would love to spend more time listening to my dry, cynical wit. He wanted to take me dancing in Downtown Disney. I said, "Given your observation of my cynicism, I'm sure it will come as no surprise that I have absolutely no desire to spend the rest of my evening in a place called 'Downtown Disney.' I will not be joining you, but I hope you have a lovely evening."

My father thinks that all men adore me. While he understands that I can't adore them all back, he thinks I am, perhaps, a bit insensitive to the effect that my charms have on them. But I do think, in this case, my father will think my suitor deserved the sting of rejection.

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