Saturday, June 20, 2009

Convention Part 2: Dining with the Wined and Soused

The highlight of the first day, actually afternoon and evening, was the opening night dinner in Horner Hall of the Hot Springs Convention Center.

My city's representatives, consisting of three aldermen, the planning commission chairperson and a spouse, along with five representatives from two other cities, occupied one table. The entire room was overflowing and additional tables had to be set.

The dinner was catered. I am amazed how well waiters, waitresses and other personnel efficiently present meals and clear tables without undue delay between courses.

This meal:

1. tomato, lettuce salad topped with croutons, two dressings on the side
2. iced tea, water, coffee, and Arkansas red or white dry wines
3. KC steak, medium
4. braised zucchini and sweet red peppers
5. potatoes, cubed and lightly oven fried
6. chocolate mousse or cheesecake with strawberries whipped cream.

My table popped the cork on the wines during the salad course. These bottles appeared to be 1 liter each, and were products of Arkansas wineries.

Raised in a non-drinking family, my YEARLY alcoholic intake is nil to none. I had about 1/3rd cup of dry white wine, barely covering the bottom third of my wine glass. My friend, the planning chairperson, had 1/2 a wine glass.

The balance of the two bottles were consumed in one round by the other eight persons during the salad course.

I knew we were in trouble when some in our party asked the waitress for more wine. We were told each table was allotted only two bottles. OOPS!!!

A long interval between courses caused some in our party to grumble. Two men table-hopped and obtained wine refills from other tables. I thought that was in poor taste, until further antics by ladies seem downright tacky and uncouth.

One woman at our table exited the room for the restroom and came back with a full bottle of white wine from a non-drinking, or should I say, a non-wine partaking table. Not to be outdone, the wife of one of our aldermen went out to smoke and came back with a full bottle of red wine, obtained in the same fashion. The guzzling eight consumed the entire contents of these bottles, too.

My friend and I were mute and astonished at the adult misbehavior of our table!

One alderman (my city) spent significant time regaling the prices of various beverages in the hotel's package store. Another alderman (my city) said he was switching to beer as soon as he got back to his room. Geez, what a bunch of souses and winos!

Not a connoisseur of liquors or wines, I had nothing to contribute to the conversation; nor did my friend, who said her household kept wine, but partaking thereof was not a significant part of their daily life.

In hindsight, the alcoholic consumption was not overt, but my expectation of scholarly conversational exchange about governmental issues was drowned in the bottom of wine glasses.

My friend and I retired to our rooms about 9 p.m. The next morning some of our table companions told us the alderman, with detailed knowledge of the hotel's package store, entertained a gathering at the hotel swimming pool with music played with his fiddle, harmonica and voice. He is talented musically.

It is interesting the toys we carry to conventions: I carry a notebook computer: others carry fiddles and harmonicas, and wear outrageous clothes.

As readers can tell I am moderately conservative, i.e., old fogie and party pooper!

Part 3: Convention Days 2 & 3


Arkansas Patti said...

Crap, it ate my comment. Try again.
So sorry to say I have been in the " adult misbehavior of our table!" group too many times.
With today's sober eyes, I feel your pain. It is not pretty.
Bet you felt better the next day than they did. Did you rub it in? I would have.

NitWit1 said...

AR Patti - not sure where your comments are flying.
No - did not rub it in. We blamed ourselves for choosing to sit at that table, although our arms were slightly twisted. One of our aldermen thought we should sit together as a city. We preferred to choose a more diversified group to network. You never learn from staying in your own coccoon.

The next day my friend I chose different officials wherever we went. The times we chose African Americans yielded the most satisfying give-and-take conversation.

At the breakfast buffets we sought out officials who were sitting alone. One male AA official enlightened us on "brown field" cleanup and funds for it as well as free inspections by ADEQ if we admit there may be problems in our area plus we are not held responsible. Another female AA official was from Dermott, a town somewhat near our size in southern AR. We compared problems and revenues, or lack thereof..

Renie Burghardt said...

Well, this is interesting account of your convention in Hot Springs. Guess some people just want to have fun, if I may call it that. Haha. The next day, you chose more business minded officials, so some business was accomplished. Do you attend these conventions every year?

I enjoyed reading this post, Carol Anne. Have a great week.


Lorna said...

I usually skip the big dinners when I go to an event like that---not because of the imbibing but because of the inane talk. I love the challenge of a debate or a discussion but I like my wine unaccompanied by background noise. Lovely pictures!

Liz said...

I'm a non-drinker and always find myself slightly on the outside at events. It's odd how people can find some very ordinary things hysterically funny when they've partaken!

Abe Lincoln said...

Your convention sounds familiar. Patty and I went to one sponsored by our Rotary Club at a golf course. People pay ten grand just to eat there. Anyway, we had a great time and the speaker was a television personality that I had invited. Needless to say, everyone had fun at her poking fun at me.

When I called and told her secretary I was Abraham Lincoln. She hung up on me. I called back and said who I was and she said she would report me for making "crank" calls and hung up. The third time she put me through to the personality who listened long enough to hear my name, "Abraham Lincoln," and hung up on me. I called back and the secretary said, "Well I told her your real name" and put me through again. I told the personality again who I was and that I wanted her to speak at our Rotary meeting. And she listened and said, "If this is a crank call, you are in deep trouble." But she agreed to come to Rob's to speak and showed up and was tickled to shake the hand of Abraham Lincoln. And she is the gal who I had come to the convention and this was the story she told.

NitWit1 said...

Abe: what a funny story about your name.

My last name is COWARD. When I have physician's or other appointments where I sign in, the receptionist refuses to call my name correctly, usually a long "O" sound or pronouncing it as if it ended in a "T" and occasionally saying HOWARD! I guess they don't want to call me a "coward".

We are the only COWARDS in our county or for two counties, best I can determine, but there are some COWARTS. It is my understanding some families changed the spelling because of the connotation of the word, which I understand is old English and meant a herder of cows.

I correct humorously by saying Coward with a D, just like it sounds...I married him. Or if I am asked an opinion, assigned a task, or need to step up to the front "firing line," I humorously say, my last name is COWARD and I don't wanna do that!"

Pat - Arkansas said...

Some folk have a tendency to lose their common sense when away from home, and "party hearty." Someone is *always* watching, though. :)

I'm glad you found more like-minded companions the following day.