Picture this: a business networking event where plenty of entrepreneurs are wandering around with wine, cheese, business cards and a nametag. It’s a small city…lots of people already know each other, and lots of people wish to be known.
Held in the atrium of a lovely office building, this evening networking opportunity is important to the salespeople who are manning tables set up by local businesses. While they sell their services, there are plates of shrimp, vegetables, cheese and hot dip for members-only to enjoy.
And then there’s me. A nervous first-timer thinking perhaps she should take a deep breath and dive in. “I really need to get out there and network,” I think, “if I want to sell my writing services to businesses.”
(Frankly, the process of walking up to total strangers, offering my business card and saying, “Hi, I’m Rhonda. I’m a great writer…do you need a great writer? I thought so!” terrifies me. But, my mother used to say, “the only way around is through,” so I went anyway.)
I arrive a few minutes early, and I ease myself into the process by visiting an empty sponsor table on the far end, manned by a bored girl who looks like she has to be here.
She is friendly and chatty and asks about my background…I mention I’m also a writer of children’s fiction and that I’m seeking a publisher for a novel, and she asks me a few more questions. I’m nervous, and the more I explain, the more I use my hands.
That’s when the unthinkable happens. I sweep my hand to the left, and smack a lovely glass bowl filled with red sparkly decorations on her display table against a brick pillar. As if in horrible slow motion, I watch the bowl spill its contents to the floor, then smash to smithereens.
It was a very enthusiastic point I was making.
“I’m so sorry! Oh, I’m so clumsy!” I cry. My hands jump to cover my beet-red face, and my peripheral vision picks up the curious looks from people who are just beginning to trickle in. I wonder what they’re thinking? Oh, wait, I know: “Thank God that wasn’t me!”
“Don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it all,” she says, attempting to soothe my embarrassment while she hastily cleans up the mess. But of course, it doesn’t. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s looking gauche.
The next time I go play with the grownups, remind me not to talk with my hands.