Conference Cookies

Conference Cookies

My boss is a beautiful, kind-hearted and brilliant woman.  She is also a complete dynamo when it comes to getting things done. Recently, she put on a fantastic four-day conference attended by nearly a hundred authors and over two hundred readers.  The whole thing went off without a hitch, except for one little faux pas—mine.

Each evening, after the day’s workshops and panels, a lavish event closed out the day’s activities.  The first night was capped off with a murder mystery dinner, and the third night boasted an awards ceremony followed by dancing until the hotel had to kick us out.  The second evening, though, was karaoke night.  The amazing voices of our staff and of the attending authors blew us all away and had everyone in the mood to party the night away.

After karaoke came dancing. Now, I have to admit that I’m not much of a dancer. In fact, if you crossed a hippopotamus with an orangutan and gave the poor thing flippers for feet then sent the hapless creature out onto the dancefloor to show off its moves, you’d have a pretty good picture of my dancing style.  Or so I’ve been informed by kind souls trying to protect me from myself.  Unfortunately, YouTube has proven them right.

It’s not that I’m against dancing—I actually enjoy it—I’m just really, really bad at it.  But the boss had insisted that the staff had to get out there and cut a rug, so I complied.

I should mention at this point that the karaoke/dance evening in question was attended by about 95% women.  Eighty or so women and only four men—two of whom ignored the boss’s edict and snuck out of dancing entirely.  One of the non-dancers, though, was also the boss’s husband.  He’s a big guy and a cop, so he doesn’t have to dance if he doesn’t want to.

After a couple—make that four—beers, my joints were lubricated enough to get my boogie on.  Bobbing, gyrating, and generally tripping over my feet (I blame the shoes for the tripping), I joined the fray, biting my lower lip in totally uncool fashion.  I bounced out of time to technopop, slid and swayed and wiggled to classic rock beats (also out of time with the music), but I abandoned the scene and ran for another beer when western line dancing took over the dance floor.  I can dance free-form because it’s just that, formless, like my dancing.  I jerk this way and that, hoping the beat of the music will occasionally, if accidentally, line up with my arrhythmic twisting and flailing.  No way, however, am I qualified to dance when there are actual, choreographed steps involved.  Lives could be lost.  At the very least the toes of my dance partners would be in serious jeopardy.

Of course, the boss is not only a lovely person, she’s a lovely dancer.  When she moves, she actually does it in time to the music.  Needless to say, she was out there on the floor most of the evening, making us flappers and fumblers (mostly me) envious.  In fact, all of the women (and the one other guy dancing; thanks for not abandoning me, Aaron) seemed to know how to move their various body parts—limbs, shoulders, heads, booties—in marvelously snaky ways.

As the evening drew on, the boss left the floor and headed off schmooze with the attendees who didn’t feel comfortable dancing or to do other boss-lady stuff.  She’s one of those rare gentle souls who genuinely cares about other people.  She makes it her mission in life, and especially at her conference, to see to it that everyone feels comfortable and included.  It’s her superpower, and it puts her smack dab in the middle of the sweetheart category.  She’s nice with a capital ‘N’.

Well, sometime after the line dancing ended, after I’d been hauled back out onto the floor and had gyrated long enough to work up a sweat and run out of blood sugar, I decided it was about time to moonwalk—a la Neil Armstrong, not Michael Jackson—on over to the cookie table that I’d been avoiding all night.

The hotel had provided a large table covered in a variety of cookies for snacks: peanut butter, chocolate chip, macaroons, oatmeal raisin.  I have to admit, cookies are my downfall.  I love them.  I could eat a hundred in one sitting.  I lust after them so much that my wife wisely won’t keep them in the house.

So, with burning cookie-lust in my heart, I hurried off the dancefloor toward the cookie-laden table.  The boss, who had finally taken a breather from making everything run smoothly, was standing in front of the table.  I smiled as I approached, the music still blasting out some highly danceable but unrecognizable tune at a thousand decibels.  Walking past, I touched her arm to get her attention.  I leaned in close, so she could hear and said, “God, I really need a cookie!”

Her mouth and eyes popped opened wide in shock as she leapt back like a snake had struck at her.  “WHAT?? You want a quickie!” she sputtered, horrified.

Flustered and horrified, I jerked back as well, nearly tripping over my own feet before holding up both hands to protest my innocence and bursting out laughing.  “A COOKIE!” I shouted over the blaring music.  “I need a COOKIE!”

Fortunately, the boss heard me that time, and the hand that had flown to her breast in alarm fell to her stomach in relief as she too burst out laughing.

I say fortunately, because not only was my clean and wholesome reputation reestablished, (I would never ask the boss, or anyone else, for a quickie) but the boss’s husband, who, as I mentioned before, is a big man who can legally carry firearms that he actually knows how to use, was standing ten feet away, a single eyebrow raised suspiciously.

Shooting him a pained smile, I grabbed my cookie—peanut butter, I think—and hurried away to rejoin the safety of the crowd.

The moral of the story, of course, is that a man should always listen to his wife and stay far, far away from cookies—they’re dangerous.

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Marc Sanderson

Marc has been many things over the years. Teacher, editor, marine biologist, tortilla chip maker, paralegal, dishwasher and waiter, but most recently, a full-time writer of contemporary eco-romance thrillers. He lives on California's Central Coast studying ecology and hiking the local peaks.

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