Saturday, February 17, 2007

Black Tie Hangover

I have a low-grade headache. My stomach is vaguely upset. I have the remnants of a hangover. It is not, however, from too much alcohol, at least not today. Instead, it is from too little sleep and too much thinking.

There are many awards ceremonies in my industry here in the UK, always black tie and held on weeknights in London. Members of the leadership team take turns attending, and other seats are then handed out to people within the company who can represent us...sometimes we've purchased a table, sometimes we're hosted by others. When it's your turn to attend, you generally find a way to do it...it's a good networking opportunity and it's usually pretty fun.

There was a sales awards event on Thursday night, and since the two US VIPs that were supposed to attend ended up postponing their trip by a day, I got a last-minute invitation on Wednesday. There's been a leadership shakeup on my team this week, and so while I had a lot of work to do and couldn't really afford the time out of the office, I also couldn't say no to the invitation.

We headed into the city around 430. Took a cab to our hotel, ran upstairs to change and met in the bar for a quick drink before heading over to the event. There were six of us attending...my friend Claire (who handles PR), our MD, two sales guys and one of our Client Services Directors. Our MD was already there, so the five us us piled into a cab and made our way to the Grosvenor House. I must admit, my favourite part of these evenings is riding in a London cab with men in tuxedos, wearing an evening dress and completely nonsensical shoes and carrying an elegant handbag on my wrist. This is so not the life I'd imagined. Actually, it IS the life I'd imagined, just not one I thought I would actually have.

We'd spent more time in the hotel bar than we'd thought and the traffic in Hyde Park was a bit heavy, so we ended up running through the lobby and the abandoned cocktail reception just in time to take our seats for dinner. We sponsor an award, and were hosting the nominees in our category. They were lovely dinner companions. (We also had prime real estate so the walk to the stage was short and sweet, giving us an unobstructed view of the evening's event.)

I always struggle at these things...all these years as an event planner make it difficult to let my professional brain relax so I can enjoy the evening. Instead, I critique the room setup and decor. I monitor the efficiency and courteousness of the waitstaff. I second guess the menu choices. (The goat's cheese and roasted tomato tart was a fine starter, if a little rubbery, but selecting venison for 1100 people seemed an unwise choice. Fish or chicken would have been much safer for dietary concerns, not to mention less sensitive to overcooking. But at least it was plated. Silver service pisses me off.) All in all, it was an average evening...effective, but nothing spectacular. Claire and I kept ourselves occupied by picking a horse to back for each award and cheering uproariously for them if they won.

We drank a load of wine and toasted our guests with champagne. Claire and I found our friend Michele and had a good gossip. Went back to our table and caught a glimpse of one of our colleagues in a rather intimate dance with an "old friend." It made us both a bit uncomfortable. They were doing this hand-holding-hooded-eyes-swaying-sexy-sexy thing to a fast song. We high-tailed it to the bar as quickly as possible to avoid the awkward moment where he realised we'd witnessed his seduction behaviour. (Seduction behaviour usually looks ridiculous to outsiders, and this seemed especially so.) We had more wine and champagne to get rid of the memory.

The hooded eyes paid off, so there were only four of us in the cab on the way back to our hotel. By this time, it was well after 3AM and the streets of London were much less congested. We were very rowdy passengers, laughing loudly and a bit out of control. At one point my friend Andy even went flying across the cab when he lost his grip on the handle during a particularly fast corner. (We found this hilarious.) Our cabbie tried to throw us out about 10 blocks short of the hotel, but we managed to convince him to finish the trip (keeping quiet with loud SHHHHHs the rest of the way, so as not to upset him.)

We forgot to push the buttons in the elevator, so it took longer than usual to get up to our rooms. I got ready for bed, and since my dress now smelled like smoke I opened the window a crack to get some fresh air in the room. It was an old-fashioned wooden sash window, so I struggled a bit but I managed. Or so I thought, until I got out of the shower and went to close it. I'd not only opened it, it had slid open entirely and there was a three-foot-square hole in my wall. (No wonder it was so noisy that I couldn't sleep. Here I'd thought the night bus was making it sound like I was sleeping on the street when, in fact, I practically was.) By the time we'd caught a train back to MK, I'd been up for 26 hours with about 45 minutes of fitful sleep. I was exhausted. But I had a work project to deal with quickly and then had classes in the afternoon, so no time to rest.

Made it through the afternoon, came home and got a decent night's sleep, but have felt hung over all day, even though I had a sensible Friday evening. I took a nap when I got back from AM classes today, but am still ready for bed early. Luckily, tomorrow is Sunday and, though I have quite a few things to do for work and school, I can still sleep in so this should be fixed by tomorrow.

I am old.

4 comments:

lulu said...

It sounds like you are living the life that all of us wanted....I'm jealous, except for the studying part.

Coaster Punchman said...

You sound more Bridge Jonsian with every entry.

Dale said...

I want that life too, especially the rowdy trashing a hotel room part and critiquing every choice of anyone but me.

Tenacious S said...

Mindy, school makes everything harder because you can never really relax. At least, I can't. I'm always worried about what is due next and am always tired. I worry about going out and having any fun at all, because I know I can't afford to rest up afterwards or I won't get all of my work done. I feel like I am in prison.