There comes a defining moment in every person's life when she must mentally scroll her rÈsumÈ for the most brilliant thing to say about herself, and she realizes the section on astounding accomplishments contains nothing but white space.
I had my moment last Friday night at a cocktail party where I ran into the mother of an old high school chum, whom I hadn't seen or corresponded with in years. His mother quickly (but not quickly enough) caught me up on his successes in life.
He currently lives in Seattle, but has lived all over the country and the world. You see, he works for Microsoft, and in the corporate world you can't grow roots. But, as his mother explained, who would choose roots over Eric's expansive income?
Brainless me, I had to ask "So, is he settled in Seattle then? I understand it's a wonderful place to live."
"Well dear," she started in a condescending tone, "he can't go any further in Microsoft. He's at the top of the company you know." Best buds with Bill Gates it seems.
In a chest tightening panic to think of something scintillating to tell her about myself, I tuned out Eric's mother. The whole party blurred as I delved deep within my cranial cavities to pull out some completely astounding fact about me.
I teach people how to use Microsoft software. I could tell her this, but it sounds so benign compared to suckering people into buying it. Besides, I lectured one night with my skirt on backwards and, when I realized it, instinctively reached down and spun it around on my waist.
I'm a good dancer. At a wedding reception I attended, the other guests watched me every time I graced the dance floor. Of course, when I saw them looking, I kicked it up a notch, put on my groove thing and turned on my boogie machine. Their stares, though, likely had more to do with my shoes than with my moves. When I got home that night, I realized I had on two pumps that each differed significantly in style and color.
Eric's mother droned on about his family life at this point. His wife, before they had children, worked as a model in New York. Nobly, she chose to take a break from her profession to raise their children. Oh yes, she also has a doctorate degree in physics from Yale.
(Darn. I couldn't divert her with my graduate degree earned at the community college.)
Finally, she said "And he has three beautiful children who have tested into the elite private school in the region. Eric pays $5,000 a year per child just to hold their names on the list until they reach attendance age."
Aha, I thought, and excitedly blurted "I have four."
"Four what," she said, irritated at the interruption.
"I have four children," I replied, smugly. She looked at me with pity. I'm not sure if her sympathy related to my apparent desperate attempt to say something glowing about myself or to the dumb expression I'd had on my face up to now.
Our conversation dwindled as she reached the last page of Eric's curriculum vitae.
With wavering satisfaction, I walked into the crowd thinking to myself "I'm better at reproducing. Then again, so are rabbits. But rabbits eat their young. So, I'm better than a rabbit."
As I quietly told myself, "Shut up, stupid," the crowd parted revealing a dimly illuminated man wearing a white tuxedo shirt and black tie. He extended to me what I deserved: a cocktail.