So I recently attended a school sponsored luncheon … that’s right, luncheon.
Just the utterance of the word breathes with it sophistication and good-breeding! Needless to say, I have never really attended a luncheon before; however, I envisioned the Ascott Race from My Fair Lady.
At this gathering, we were invited to dine with faculty, fellow classmates and network with seasoned professionals.
We were encouraged to dress in work appropriate attire and arrive promptly at noon.
Recently, St. Augustine has experienced unseasonably chilly weather, and being a Florida girl, I felt the need to bundle-up. However, my vanity would not allow this, as I wanted to wear a sophisticated dress for the occasion.
Well, I teetered across campus in my 3-inch heels and self-consciously held down my dress whenever the wind picked up. Finally I arrived at the Markland House, a lovely southern mansion complete with white columns and hardwood floors.
Other students were already there by the time I arrived; therefore I joined them in the “Dainty Rose” room (every room in the house is a different color, this one is pink; however pink sounds much to common for a room of this elegance). So we sat and quietly conversed among ourselves, eagerly anticipating the luncheon to begin.
Whenever a new girl arrived, you could hear her heels click against the floorboards for her first couple of steps. Then, realizing how obnoxious her feet were, she would almost tip-toe across the room to her seat. We continued to wait.
Professors occasionally walked past the “Dainty Rose” room, pausing only to peek their heads in the doorway, then they would saunter on down to the “Rich Emerald” room.
What a funny sight we must have been! All of these college students, whom wear flip-flops even in January, dressed up in business formal. The guys brushed their hair, and some had on ties! The girls wore makeup and appropriate undergarments! For the first time, we looked like real adults … it was magical!
Then someone in a muffled voice said that the luncheon was served. I, for one, was a little confused do to nothing happening, but quickly joined the herd of hungry students to the “Ashen Blue” room.
“Well,” I thought, “surely this is a mere appetizer, and the main course will follow shortly!”
So, I delicately placed the semi-wilted lettuce on my Styrofoam plate, and topped it with cucumbers, cheese and croutons. No one was gorging themselves on the greens and at the end of the table was chicken and beef slices. Everyone was putting two-to-three little slivers on their plate, so I did the same (after all, I didn’t want to look like this salad was my first meal in months!).
We went back to the “Dainty Rose” room, passing the “Cheery Marigold” room on the way, which had the two professionals who decided to show up and some college faculty. We then sat back in our original seating, because there was nary a table in sight.
There I was, in heels and a dress trying to sit lady-like while eating my salad on a Styrofoam plate with a plastic fork! We all had to set our drinks on the ground and hovered over those plastic cups with the intensity of a mother hawk, in fear that someone would kick it over and ruin the image of classy perfection.
For starters, I don’t typically eat salad. I’m not saying that I dislike devouring leaves like a koala bear, but I just prefer to eat something more substantial. Secondly, I’m a messy eater, and that messiness is intensified when I think about NOT being a pig!
The rest of our luncheon never arrived. No cucumber sandwiches with the crust cut off, no smoked salmon on little toasted bread, not even a sandwich ring from the local deli! However, there was dessert. Your choice between tiny chocolate chip cookies or large brownies.
All the ladies in the room were saying how they hated that there were brownies out there, but they would be strong and stick to their salad. Others said they were spoiling themselves by eating one mini cookie. I was still in shock from having to eat a salad, and quickly escorted my giant, gooey brownie back to my seat.
However, I scarfed down my decadent treat with a fork, so that was classy, right?
By the time everyone was finished eating, the two professionals attending the luncheon had left, leaving us students “networking” with fellow students … which in my mind defeated the entire purpose of the gathering.
At 12:45, half of the original attendees were gone. The ties were strung on the chairs, and conservative cardigans were slumped on the floor. We had given up our charade, and had once again returned to being average students. Now, we could eat what we want, dress how we want and talk how we want without pretention.
It’s funny how our preconceived notions of what it meant to be sophisticated members of academia led to disappointment and awkwardness, but I am glad that I went. After all, I got a free brownie!