Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In The Lioness' Den

Before we start, I have to give you this one all-time classic link. Nigeria's national oil company and the Russian oil company Gazprom created a joint venture a week or two ago. What could possibly go wrong?

Today is boring. The day after the MLB All-Star Game is the most boring day of any year. People are on vacation, so work is pretty slow and there aren't too many people around with which to talk. There's no major planned news because too many people are on vacation for it to make an impact. The sports world is entirely barren; the days before and after the All-Star Game are the only two days of the year without a game in one of the four major sports leagues, but at least the day before the game has the Home Run Derby and All-Star hype. Nothing's happening today, ever. So how do you spice up a boring day? You have to go look for comedy.

Enter the Romance Writers of America convention. Held this week in Woodley Park (Northwes DC), writers from around the country gather for workshops, presentations, and book-signings. The major signing event was this evening, as all of the attending writers gathered in a huge conference room to sell their wares and greet their fans. My wife, a romance novel fan, wanted to go to see three particular writers. I, bored all day, wanted to go to see what the crowd would be like.

We entered this massive room and my ears were struck by the racket of hundreds of women all talking at the same time. I was immediately scared and uncomfortable, but it was time to soldier on and do some people-watching. The authors were at tables, with the big names around the outside so there was room for lines, none bigger (name and line) than Nora Roberts who was right at the front. Skipping that line, we walked to some other shorter ones and while my wife waited, I stood to the side and looked around.

Of the hundreds of people in the room, probably 95% or more were women. There were a few men who were walking a step behind their wives/girlfriends. But then there were the men who were there by themselves. They creeped me out. It's possible they were big romance novel fans, in which case, I didn't get it. The other option, the one I had been dying to see all day, was that they were there to meet what they thought to be desperate women (in fact, as you might expect, pretty much every woman there looked really, really happy; I was the same way in Cooperstown or at the All-Star Fanfest I attended).

Indeed though, I wonder if some of the women expected a lone guy to be doing exactly the latter. As I stood to the side, staring at my phone and tweeting every joke I could come up with, women kept passing me and giving me dirty looks. I realized that I was the lone, creepy guy! I also realized that if I was single and had no shame -- none whatsoever -- it would have been a breeze to pick up a girl. The demographics were remarkably mixed, women of all ages. It was a Texts From Last Night entry waiting to happen.

When I was in business school, I was given an assignment that I had to go to an international grocery store, somewhere where I would have a very low comfort level. The point was to see what it feels like to be on the outside, see if I can deal with an entirely different cultural situation. Completing that assignment was the first time I had ever been to a Korean grocery store and it was great. I learned how to find more diverse produce and fresher fish. I'm all about this kind of thing. Challenge my comfort level, find a little comedy, liven up a boring-ass day.

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