Friday, January 11, 2008

Tonight's festivity

Thanks to everyone who commented and emailed on my last post about pricing. I appreciate the encouragement and the good ideas, and I'll be tweaking things a bit now that I've gotten some feedback.

In the meantime, I'm about to gussy myself up for the dreaded Workplace Holiday Party at my husband's firm. While it will be a free night out -- with open bar -- let's just say that the prospect of socializing with a bunch of lawyers doesn't fill me with glee. For one of the biggest drawbacks to being a lawyer (or former lawyer, as the case may be) is socializing with lawyers. They have a tendency to think that their area of expertise, be it the arcane law of insurance coverage, or the tax ramifications of estate planning, or the intricacies of a complex poison pill provision, are more interesting than, say, knitting. You haven't lived until you've heard a joke where the punchline goes something like "And then I said, 'Bill, I was TALKING about a leveraged BUYOUT!"

My personal gripe about these situations is the way in which when introduced to someone, the first question they ask is "What do you do?" I say "I'm a stay-at-home mom," and I can actually see their faces fall and their eyes glaze over. Occasionally I'll even catch someone (invariably a middle-aged white guy) scan the room behind me to see if there's anyone more interesting to talk to. (As if.)

My friends, I promise you this: tonight when someone asks me "What do you do?" I am going to say: "I am an exotic dancer."

I'll let you know what happens tomorrow, as soon as my hangover wears off.

19 comments:

Elizabeth D said...

Carol, that's the best answer I've heard for a while! If you want to see their eyes glaze over for another reason, though, just tell them you're a freelance fiber artist devoted to transgressing the boundary between colorization and the mundane. . .[guess who read too much literary criticism?]

mindy said...

Have fun tonight! Not so much fun that you offer to give a demonstration, though...

Liz K. said...

Try going to chemistry parties. You'd think they'd at least have good drugs. No. Just a bunch of science nerds with bad haircuts and women in 15 year old prom dresses. But it was always the one event every year that I could count on being the best-dressed woman there. You know, there's always a silver lining.

Kathy Merrick said...

Har. Oy, when my husband taught at NYU, every social event proceeded the same way.
Someone would ask, and what do you do?
As soon as (and I MEAN as soon as) I responded that I was at home raising decent human beings, off the
questioner would go, generally without even saying, see ya!
That never happened anywhere else he worked.

mhw said...

No, no, no. You're a yarn designer for the international market. That'll fox 'em.

anne marie in philly said...

you could tell the sharks "I am a painter."

from where I stand, you're not just a "stay at home mom"; hell, you own your own business, you are an author, you are an artist.

you will accomplish more in your life than those freaks ever will.

PS - I bought some BBF today...(throws confetti)

Ted said...

Um...Workplace Holiday Party? January 11th?

I'm sorry, I don't understand. Is this some American thing y'all have goin' on down there? Which Holiday is this for?

Bridget said...

When we lived in DC, I worked for a U.S. Senator. Once I went to one of my husband's holiday parties (medical publishing), and I was introduced to one of their authors. He asked what I did, and I responded that I worked for a senator, to which he replied, "Are you someone important, or just staff?" I just responded that my FBI clearance precluded me answering that question.

It isn't just lawyers, trust me.

Alwen said...

"What do you do?"

Ohhh, I evilly love that question: "For fun? For love? For money? [pause] How much money?"

Oh, dear, I'm not much fun at parties, but I have a lot of fun when I get going. I'm a Barbara-Sher style Scanner with about 1100 interests, so it's bleedin' dangerous to ask me what I do.

Lynne E. said...

Hmmm. What do you expect from people, when you answer that you're a stay-at-home mom? How about answering that you're a self-employed businesswoman, who runs an online fiber-dyeing company, handles marketing through through Etsy and a couple of blogs, regularly reviews new knitting books for a loyal following, and publishes designs for knitted garments in crafts books?

Sarah said...

I love your plan. Can't wait to find out how it worked.

As for that old question, I usually say, "As little as I can get away with." I like it. I stole it from one of my favorite people.

Marigold said...

LOL! Yeah, let us all know what happens. I predict you are goig to be the center of conversation. :) Just once, I wish someone would follow up that question with a sensible 2nd question...perhaps "and how old are your children?", or even, "What do you think of the politics in China?"

Anonymous said...

I used to say that the future of Canada rested in my hands.
Then I switched to "taming savages".
Now I like to kind of cross my eyes and scowl and say "Who asked you to ask me that? Are you wearing a wire?"
A friend and I wound up dressed alike at a party in outfits like the woman on the Weakest Link. We walked around arm in arm, and told all the executive types "You ARE the weakest link. Fuck off". They thought we were part of the entertainment.
Barb B.
PS maybe this only works in the mining industry?

deirdre said...

My standard answer is "Domestic Goddess" - always a conversation starter...

hope your head is okay this morning...

=Tamar said...

The answer depends on the audience. Always use the highest possible rank in whatever you state, and use the big words. (Never call yourself a "mom" - if you mention it at all, call yourself a "mother".)

For businessmen, you own a specialty fiber-dyeing company; note, "own," not "run" (which would imply you are only the manager).
For lawyers, you publish book reviews online. (This implies publicity and judgement.)
For people who might be vaguely into the arts, you are a designer.
For psychiatrists (should you meet any), you work with children.

Do not give further details unless they ask and seem extremely interested.

Elizabeth said...

I know that glazed-look face all too well. For 10 years, pre-children, when I owned a used bookstore I had a career with cachet. Nearly everyone I met thought that was kind of cool. But motherhood plummeted me right into the depths social nothingness.

Now I go with "I'm a freelance knitting designer" which usually just baffles them long enough for me to escape first.

Loren T said...

As a (lapsed) lawyer married to a lawyer, I sympathize completely. Listening to a group of telecom lawyers talk about pole attachments just makes me want to shout, "That's what she said!" I usually use the lapsed lawyer line when asked what I do. I don't get written off immediately that way.

This year's firm party was fun -- there was a lot of tipsy talk and inappropriate behavior that I'm sure was regretted in the morning.

Diane said...

When I stayed home with the kids my sister in law wouldn't talk to me at family get togethers because obviously I was boring. The year I went back to work she talked my ear off at the next family get together. After they left I turned to my mom and said, "When the hell did I get so interesting?" Some people are just stupid.

TheAmpuT said...

You know, I went to my sweetie's company party and had to deal with the "so what do you do" questions, too...and it sunk me into a fit of depression for a few days. It was ugly. Forget that I teach dance, dance for two dance companies, volunteer at a convalescent hospital and an elementary school. It has no title, and that's what they want.

But a few days after the holiday party, I was talking with my dad about my feelings. He was on the Renaissance Man end of the Jack Of All Trades scale.

He told me that when people ask me what I do, I should say, "Whatever I want."

I love it.