In the past, my husband and I attended some interesting parties, usually for charitable functions. In those times, we loved to dress up and support any number of cultural and educational causes. We enjoyed meeting new people who shared our interests.
Along the way, we had surprising things happen to us. We enjoyed the experiences and they made for delightful stories.
Our first surprise occurred on a sunny spring day. We had been invited to a fundraiser at the Houston Polo Club. We didn’t know the venue and were relieved when we found a lane turnoff in a heavily wooded area. We had dressed to the nines, including my donning a bright red straw hat, broad brimmed and dramatic. I remember my dress was canary yellow. My husband was dapper in a pastel blue suit. Our spirits were high as we drove up to a pillared entryway. A valet in a tux opened our car door and warmly welcomed us.
I eagerly skipped up the steps into a grand foyer where I was immediately offered a cold glass of sparkling champagne from a white-gloved server. When my husband had his glass in hand, I offered a gleeful toast and tasted the icy dry champagne as I admired the floral-filled venue.
We meandered into an adjacent room with tables of beautifully arranged small bites. Both of us were chatting and enjoying the gourmet offerings when behind me I heard a very unsettling question posed between two couples: “Are you with the bride or the groom?”
I knew my husband wasn’t paying attention, so I whispered urgently, “Put your food and drink down and head for the door!”
Of course, he resisted. “I’m enjoying myself and haven’t even had time to meet anyone!”
“We are at the wrong event! This is a wedding.” I spoke with clenched teeth, so no one could read my lips. We departed rapidly, as though one of us had suddenly taken ill.
On another occasion, I convinced my husband to try a new Mexican restaurant I’d heard was quite good. We drove up to a scene of social hubbub. Valet parking was offered, which I found impressive for such a tiny establishment. We left our car with the valet, and entered as a helpful patron held the door open for us.
Once inside, I noted that complimentary hors d’oeuvres and margaritas were being passed on trays. I didn’t hesitate to accept a drink and a taste of what I imagined to be the first of many samplings. Next to me was a friendly woman and we began to chat, commenting on how delicious the food was. I told her it was my first time to come to this restaurant about which I’d read rave reviews. She and I immediately bonded. My husband leaned over and whispered that he was amazed at the number of single women in attendance.
I asked my new friend if complimentary food and drink were always offered. She smiled broadly and said no, everything was free only when they were closed for private events. I froze. What event were we attending? I leaned in and explained to my new friend that we hadn’t known this event was private and the valet had taken our car.
“There was a sign on the door,” she offered helpfully. That was the door that had been held open for us, so we hadn’t seen the sign.
I explained our dilemma and my new pal took over. “You two seem fun. I’ll host you as my guests.” We ended up staying and being introduced to lovely women, my husband the only male in attendance. That was a memorable evening for him!
Then there was the night at our local museum. We entered the closest of three entrances as we didn’t feel like walking in the heat. A suited gentleman opened the door, and I thanked him enthusiastically, commenting on the stifling heat outside as we whirled past the door attendant and up inside the air-conditioned main room. How lovely the room was, with cocktail tables, covered in white tablecloths. A glass of wine was offered and then a filet mignon small bite.
I turned to my husband and commented that the patron parties weren’t usually this well serviced. Then I decided to mix a bit and left my husband to his own whims. I noticed that there was a heavy presence of dark-suited gentlemen, so I went up and introduced myself to one of them. I asked him how it was that I was such a lucky lady among all these men. “Well, the Petroleum Engineers Society is heavy on us guys,” he responded. My smile faded. Once again, wrong event. I bid a hasty excuse and retreated to locate my spouse.
I put our drinks on the nearest table, grabbed his hand and raced for the closest exit.
What I learned from all these crashing experiences is that if one dresses to the code, moves quickly, and smiles, a warm welcome usually follows. We now enter functions a bit more cautiously and relish the memories of those past parties we attended uninvited, as innocent interlopers.
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