Vail Valley Voices: What not to talk about at a dinner party
Vail, CO, Colorado
I was at a dinner party the other night with three oil and gas guys, two retired school teachers, a chemical engineer and an entrepreneur who never explained what he entrepeneured in. It was held at a lovely home in Littleton and it was couple’s thing.
I wasn’t having any fun because I didn’t know anyone there except the fine lady who invited me along in spite of the fear she has of me saying something stupid. Ultimately, her fears were realized.
After being told by perfect strangers for an hour “how lucky you are to live in Vail,” I started to get that glaze in my eyes. I realize and say to myself, “I’m looking right at you and not hearing a word you’re saying.”
Hour two was conversation about favorite restaurants, places to see in Europe and colleges that are the best fit their children. I listened politely at the rectangular dinner table (I’ve always been fond of round dinner tables) and suddenly felt left out.
No one had asked me about anything. I’m thinking to myself, “I have some favorite restaurants, I’ve been to Italy, and my kids have gone to college. What am I, the village idiot?”
I need to say something.
“Anyone have a problem with what Obama is doing with the Keystone Pipeline Project?”
There was one fellow there with a beard, and when he spoke it was serious and backed with fact. I’ll call him John. He jumped right in as if to settle my inquiry immediately.
“That man is a disgrace as a president, and this is only one of a dozen things he is wrong about. He has no energy policy. No belief in anything. Only cares about re-election and who will get him there.” (Jeez John, don’t sugar coat it. Say what’s on your mind.)
“Excuse me John. We are all entitled to our opinions, and what if I say you are wrong? I think he is an extremely smart man that has done amazing things for our country.”
This came from one of the wives who through the course of the evening laughed at everything, even if it wasn’t funny. She wasn’t laughing now.
Her husband put his hand on her leg and said, “Honey, let’s not go there. OK?”
John wasn’t finished. “The operative word in your opinion is ‘entitled.’ He wants more of my money and yours.”
That’s when Dan chimed in: “Don’t you think it’s a little unfair that the billionaires don’t pay taxes?”
Another woman, Lisa, had some thing to say about that. “Where the hell to you get your information, UTNE Reader?’
Rob took offense to that. “UTNE is a great publication and a wealth of knowledge.”
“Yea, so is PBS if you appreciate one-sided news” was the next blurb from someone whose name I could not remember.
Within minutes the conversation got loud and people around the table were all talking over each other. I heard something from someone about whales in Japanese waters and another comment about bombs over Israel.
“Blame it on the wine” I thought.
I looked at my lady friend across the table (it was a boy-girl-can’t sit next to the one you came with arrangement) and said, “The asparagus is really good, don’t you think?”
She agreed, but it was her eyes that certainly said what she wanted to say.
I had started a cold war. It was time to divert the representatives to a lighter subject, and I was hesitant to say anything that might spark more controversy.
I was ready to bring up religion, when our hostess asked, “Did anyone’s grandmother watch the ‘Lawrence Welk Show’ when we were growing up?”
Just like that, it was Christmas season again.
The giddiness was back until the end of the evening.
As we all said good night around the mistletoe entry, there were promises to “do this again,” “let’s golf,” “call me and we’ll do lunch.”
On the ride home I remembered the valuable lessons I continually forget. No politics or religion at a dinner party that includes people you don’t know.
The other lesson is to stop going to dinner parties unless you’re running for office or getting paid for it.