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.
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