Saturday, March 7, 2015

Seating Arrangements

There was a period of my life about five or ten years ago when I think I was going to a wedding almost every weekend. After that came the baby showers and the divorces. But before diapers and divorce decrees, there were mini-quiches and receiving lines. 

Yes, I know funerals are next. And that is dark. So let's not go there quite yet.

Having rejected the idea of a formal wedding myself, I never understood the philosophy behind seating arrangements at weddings. Most of the time, I'd end up lodged firmly between two strangers, one of whom worked in pharmaceutical sales and the other in commercial real estate. 

I would pick at my goat cheese and arugula salad and dinner roll while listening to the latest quarterly report on Viagra and the state of the housing bubble in Orlando. I'd smile and nod politely, feigning interest as I scanned the room for a stray plate of bacon-wrapped dates or scoped out the line at the bar, desperate for a tall Bombay Sapphire & Tonic to lubricate the wheels of this absolutely torturous conversation.

Why wasn't I sitting next to the people I actually knew, liked, and rarely saw--all of whom were tantalizingly close and within view, yet so far away? 

So close, yet so far away. Just like the Hall & Oates ballad.

It wasn't always all bad, though. I once sat next to a "food scientist" and it was actually a fascinating convo, as prior to that moment I didn't even realize the profession of "food scientist" existed. She told me about how they make Easter candy in October and Halloween candy in April, because the various fondants and processed chocolates and other deleterious-for-your-body-and-soul confections take six months to set up properly, and must be aged on a schedule. Like a fine wine.

She told me about her tour of the M&Ms factory, and how she'd been made to sign a non-disclosure agreement, swearing on the life of her first born child not to reveal the trade secrets behind the candy-coating methods that belonged to M&Ms alone. (Side bar: have you ever noticed how generic trail mix M&Ms don't have the same legit candy shell? Well, apparently M&Ms has a top secret shelling process that guarantees their candy shell will always remain superior)!

This was one of the few times I was happy to be seated next to a stranger. Truly, it couldn't have been better if I'd been sitting next to Willy Wonka himself. 

Now every time I'm in a store and see Easter candy, all I can think is how it's been around since Halloween, and vice-versa. I'm not sure if this is necessarily a good or a bad thing, but it definitely made me re-think my bad attitude toward wedding seating arrangements.

My next hope is that I get to sit next to the president of Cheetos at a funeral. I need to know how they make that orange dust more addictive and unhealthy than most schedule II controlled substances. I'm sure that's a trade secret too, but with enough alcohol and pressure, I'm sure I could crack it.

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