Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Please, don't eat the daisies -- jcarolek

OK, so I never saw the TV show or anything, but I remember that title and it has been going through my mind for the past couple of days.

It all began on Monday night. I had worked all day in Linthicum, MD and had made the drive to McLean, VA to attend an awards dinner at which my team was to be honored, along with six other teams, for our contributions to the company. It was a big deal and we had to have group photos and such. There were drinks and hors d' oeuvres served before we all went into the dining room and took our seats at our assigned tables. It seems this week has been full of such activities. On Monday night I was assigned to table 9.

The coordinator of this event had ensured that teams were not seated together at a single table, but rather, that we were all "co-mingled." I took my seat at table 9 (obediently, as always) and a gentleman I have known for a while, but who has always been WAAAAY above me, professionally speaking, took the seat next to me. The last time I had seen him had been when he had flown into town for a ribbon cutting type ceremony in which I was involved a couple of years ago. When he sat down and greeted me, I noted that he appeared to have lost some weight. He admitted to having lost 30 lbs (he was never big) and we got into a nice, friendly discussion about family, work and life outside of work.

One of my team members took his seat at our table, sitting on the other side of the big boss guy. The three of us entertained ourselves as we started in on the first course...the salad. Now, when I looked at my salad plate, it appeared to have a little tuft of various lettuce varieties, a few candied pecans, a small hunk of white cheese.... and a pink and white orchid-type flower. I started with my fork and knife in good British style and immediately realized I had missed a key element on the plate. In fact, as my knife skidded off the "non-lettuce" surface it encountered, spraying salad dressing onto my wine glass (and thankfully NOT onto my dinner companion), I discovered there was a REASON the lettuce was standing up in such a tufty style! The "lettuce vase" was an apple ring, which was quite tasty, as was the whole salad, but I sure wish they had warned me before I started in on the salad...I could REALLY have embarrassed myself!

I carefully ate around the pretty flower, fairly sure it was there for "presentation" rather than for consumption. But my other team member, the young twenty-something guy, decided that if it was put on the plate, it was edible...and he ate his. So, not wanting to be considered stuck in my ways, I ate mine too! The big boss laughed at both of us and suggested we were just a little off our rockers!

The rest of the evening progressed well. We enjoyed a rich but tasty supper and the conversation was great. It might seem odd, but it turns out this guy and I share many life experiences...both of us were born with crossed eyes... both of us had surgery to correct the problem... both of us were encouraged to wear a patch on the good eye to strengthen the bad one (I suspect he was more diligent than I, since he apparently has binocular vision today, while I enjoy vision out of only my good eye), both of us can STILL see our lazy eye "wander" when we look in the mirror when we are tired, both of us were one of six siblings.....and the list goes on. He's a year younger than I am, otherwise I MIGHT think we were twins...separated at birth!

We received our awards and applauded the others also being honored. It was a great deal of fun, but when the awards were finished, and when the rest of the team gathered to go enjoy some more team time at the bars, I headed back to Linthicum... I had to work early in the morning. I was about ten miles away from my hotel when I realized that either the rich food or the flower was challenging my well-being. I was thankful I made it to my room before the challenger won. For the next 24 hours I was, well, let's just say, "under the weather."

Tuesday night I was to meet my daughter, her husband, in-laws visiting from France and my dad and step mom at their house for dinner. I went over with the intention of eating nothing. I could enjoy the company without putting the stomach to the test, couldn't I? Well.... no, I could not.

We had a delightful time visiting, meeting for the first time. The little boy, Romaine, was a cutie! He is not yet 4 years old and is actually dealing quite well in a world where very few of the people speak his native language. At one point he was observed spending time with Dad and Lynne's two cocker spaniels... chattering away to them. When my daughter asked him whether the dogs spoke French, he looked at her with a curiously serious expression and informed her that they "allez heh heh heh" as he shaped his face to affect his best "panting dog" imitation.....

I did not eat a lot, but by the time I arrived BACK at my hotel room, I was cursing my lack of self control... and I was sick another night.

Today we finished our work ahead of schedule and I was able to drive back to Gloucester where I will be able to wrap up my work week before embarking on my time off. I will be entertaining out of town guests and need to be over this stomach thing pronto! And that little title keeps running through my head.... "Please, don't eat the daisies..." I promise... never again... from here on out, flowers are to be enjoyed visually, but they will NOT make their way to my stomach again.... (naturally, the twenty-something guy is happy and healthy as a lark.... BUM!!!)

Jen, Romaine, and one of the panting dogs....

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