Still couldn't sleep. Part of it was the Sexympics going on next door, but part of it was due to what had happened the previous day.
I don't normally drink coffee (it was just never my thing), but I needed coffee this particular morning. At breakfast, aside from the food, I found myself being made fun of by my colleagues. Why? Well, first there were the two ladies who sat at our table. I made pleasantries (I'm not a nice person normally, but I was told to network, which I was doing). The two girls smiled and started talking to me. When they left to get seconds, the crew I was with was merciless.
"They LIKE you...oooohhh."
"Look at you getting girls to come after you...."
Etc, etc, etc. They were merciless.
It got worse.
The gals from Florida saw me and came to my table.
"Heeeeey, Leab! How are you?"
"I'm good, ladies, how are you? No hangovers I hope?"
My colleagues stared at me in amazement. I could tell that one of them, probably the best looking of the bunch (in my opinion), was thinking "How the hell is it that this short, fat, Jewish-looking New Yorker is getting all the girls? I'm hot stuff dammit!"
I talked to the Florida Posse for a few more minutes, and, even though I introduced them to the other guys, they never stopped talking to me.
"Oh, and happy birthday, Jenny."
"You remembered?! That's so sweet! Well, we're going drinking again if you want to go with us...."
I excused myself at that point.
The training that day was a little better. It was...more practical (and kind of fun actually). The best part? One of the trainers came up with a system titled DIDLS (it's a way of looking over passages by looking at Imagery, Language, etc). However, she didn't realize that DIDLS (pronounced diddles) had another meaning. Everytime she talked about "DIDLing a passage," we all laughed. She turned bright red when we explained it to her, so she changed the name to LIDDS. Awesome.
It was a gorgeous day. During the break I went for a walk. The sun had finally, FINALLY come out. I went by the Falls for a final look and saw not one by TWO rainbows shining in the sun. It was awe-inspiring in some ways. It made me think a great deal about the beauty of nature.
Lunch that day was interesting. My school sent four guys. Two white (including me) and two black. One of the black guys is very brown...as in Middle-Eastern brown. He joins the other white guy and myself as we head to lunch. Now the white guy and I do not have our badges on, neither does our colleague. We start to walk into the lunch area, and we are not stopped by anyone. Our friend, however, is not so lucky. Remember, he's walking WITH us. The waiter (or maitre'de or whatever he is) grabs my colleague and pulls him aside.
"You badge, sir. Where is it?"
He digs it out and shows it.
"Do you need to see mine?" I ask.
"No," he says.
Anyone who doesn't believe in racism has obviously never seen a situation like this. It was appalling. My colleague took it in stride ("I'm used to it," he told me, "It happened at the border too, remember?"), but it was still angering to see. Why didn't the guy need to see MY badge?
We took off and went to eat outside the conference (the food served at lunch wasn't good). During lunch, one of my colleagues and I discussed the nature of God and the universe. He's devout, me...not so much. Our conversation was so outrageous and passionate (yet never angry or denouncing in anyway) that people gathered around us to watch and listen. That's how you know it's a good conversation.
The rest of the training was uneventful. Several people started leaving on Sunday after lunch. The gal who sat next to me ended up giving me her room number and asked me to call (I didn't). At the end of the class, I went over to the shops to buy my sister a present (her birthday is on the 16th). I walk in, and what happens? I feel that familiar pinch on my ass. I jumped so high, I knocked over a rack of shirts. It was Jenny.
"Well, well, well. How are you?"
"Good to feel you again. How's your birthday?"
"It's great. See my crown?"
She was wearing a large crown that said "Birthday Girl" in big letters.
"Do you have a present for me?" She asked.
Very forward. Have I been out of the dating game for so long that I don't realize how forward most women are? Seriously. I get women. I get dating. There are things I can tell you about women and men that are always right (for example, a woman can lick her lips in a non-provocative way and men will always stare). I get these things, but I don't remember ever really being as forward as this gal.
With no alternative, I gave her the cookie I had bought at the Hershey's Store.
"Here you go. Eat it in good health, and happy birthday."
In retrospect, that was a mistake. A big mistake. She would go and tell her friends about it, and I would end up in trouble later.
That night my colleagues and I would head to a fabulous Chinese restaurant (and we would be the only diners there). The food was great, as was the conversation. I would learn that one of my colleagues used to be a fisherman, that another, who is a narcoleptic, married a woman with ADD ("It balances out," he would tell me), and that my third colleague hadn't touch a drop of alcohol in 25 years. It was a fascinating night.
After dropping off my other three colleagues, I decided to go for a walk.
As I made my way up Clifton Hill, I felt a hand on my back. Now, I don't know about you, but I am not big on people touching me. If I allow people to touch me, it's usually a sign of trust. There are friends of my wife who try to hug me, and I will always back away. It's just my thing. So when this hand touched my back, I immediately reacted by grabbing it and starting to twist. It was Jenny again. I felt bad.
"Oh God, I'm so sorry. Are you ok?"
"What the hell was that?" she asked.
"I really don't like to be touched."
"That's because it hasn't been done right," she said coyly. This girl was not going to give up. I commend her for her passion, but sheesh. There is a limit, right folks?
"No, it has. I've been married for five years now," I said with emphasis on the time.
"Would you like to join us over at the Casino?"
"No thanks, I'm just taking a walk....Clearing my mind and such."
I started to walk off again, but she followed me. SHE FOLLOWED ME. Sigh.
Short of hitting her and running, I didn't think there was anything I could do, so I allowed her to walk with me. I talked to her for about 40 minutes as I doubled back to my hotel.
I learned she had been married to her high school sweetheart at 19, but he had broken her heart and run off. She also lost a child, which can be traumatic. All this, and she was only twenty-five. I allowed her to spill her guts to me as we walked. I don't know if what she said was true or not, and to me, it doesn't matter. If she was using it solely to try and get me to bed her, it didn't work. If she needed to empty her soul and such on her birthday and talking to a stranger did the trick, then I gave her a good birthday present, I guess.
On a final note for day three, Jenny was staying at the same hotel I was (I was shocked to learn). She wanted to know if I wanted to go to her room for a drink. I politely declined.
"Don't you like me?" she asked. "Am I unattractive or something?"
This is one of those scary situations where you want to comfort, but also be frank, so I tried to split the difference.
"Jenny, you're a great gal, but I'm happily married. Five years. I love my wife, and, before you say anything, I can't cheat. I can't do it. I was cheated on, and it broke my heart. I can't and won't cheat on my wife. EVER! Do you understand? If you really need to be with someone, I'll give you the number of a good-looking, single guy I met here. He's from Canada, and very sweet. Better looking than me to boot. Do you want the digits?"
She declined. I would see her one more time.
With the excitement over, I headed to my room to try and sleep.
The end. I skipped out early and went for a walk to the far side of the city. They trainers even admitted they had nothing for us.
At breakfast, which was continental (read: no REAL food), I saw the Florida girls for the last time. I was sitting talking to a colleague, when, from across the room, this collective shout of "Leab" was heard. We looked over, and sure enough it was the Florida crew. They all waved, then they left. It was embarrassing. I blushed...and got made fun of...good stuff.
I went to the Fallsview Casino Resort to look around and see what I could see. It was a brand new facility. Imagine taking the Mall of America and placing a large casino where (the former) Camp Snoopy is. Then drop a hotel on top of the whole building. Now you have the resort. Oh wait, I forgot: Add random stages throughout the casino where cover bands play. ONLY cover bands.
I walked around the complex and through the casino for an hour. I stopped at the bar to get water (the casino was NOT a smoke-free facility). I'm sitting at the bar, sipping my water, looking at the Chinese guy on one side of me, and an Indian woman on the other, and my first thought is, "Wow, how Benetton." Then a guy with a headset comes over to me.
"Excuse me, sir."
I'm thinking, "Damn. They know I have a camera in my pocket, and I'm in trouble. There's going to remove me."
"Sir," he says again, "Can you please sign this?"
He puts a clipboard in front of me.
"What is this?" I ask.
"Release form. You just walked into a commercial and that was our best take. You're in the background. Sign this form so we can use you please."
"Excuse me? What?"
He explains it again.
I sign the form, and he hands me a $25 chip, saying, "Here's your payment."
Looking around I told the guy next to me they need to fuzz us out in the background. There were these four BEAUTIFUL people as the main characters (two guys, two girls), then in the background is me, Yao Ming, and a not-so-good-looking gal. It was an interesting dichotomy, but you don't see me and think, "Wow! Hip people go THERE! Honey, LET'S GO!!!!"
So, if you're on the east coast, looking for the short, fat guy with brown hair and a goattee in the background of a Fallsview Resort commerical. I'm at the bar.
The rest of the day sucked. The bus ride to the airport was infuriating. I was trapped in front of the two most bitchy people in the world, who talked crap about all their colleagues and complained about one of them talking about them. (Ring, ring....Hello? Hypocrisy? Haven't heard from you in AGES!) I finally asked them to be quiet, and they turned on me. I wasn't having it, so I answered back. We ended up having to move seats to be separated. Good stuff.
The flights back were quiet. Once again I sat alone away from the other guys. I wrote a test on the way back, they slept.
In the end, I got home later than I wanted and headed to work early the next morning (big mistake).
If this trip taught me anything, it's that when people get a change of scenery, they can get a change of personality that may not be for the better.
I enjoyed the trip, but I liked being home again with my lovely and understanding wife.
As for IB. I say no more.
"I'm a bad, bad man."