Friday, June 17, 2011

An Evening With the Opposition

I am such a polite young man.

Or I was when I was younger, anyway. Now I’m a polite middle-aged man, which is much the same thing only a bit greyer and rather heavier.

Tonight was the retirement party for the outgoing Dean down at Home Campus. It was a gala event, full of all sorts of people and good food. There was mingling and mixing, and not a little hobnobbing. And there were presentations and resolutions that were kept short and simple, the way they should be. All in all, it was about everything you could expect from such an evening.

Of course there was one small complication.

As the husband of the incoming Interim Dean of Home Campus (yay, Kim!) it was my privilege to sit at one of the Reserved Tables up front, which was nice since I got to be next to Kim and see the stage without craning my neck at all. My neck has not been happy lately, probably due to sleeping in odd positions, and the less craning it has to do the better. So add “cricked” to the “greyer” and “heavier” descriptions above.

But you see, the Reserved Tables were Reserved for the bigwigs (and spouses thereof), and there were many different kinds of bigwigs there – not just campus bigwigs, but community bigwigs, University System bigwigs, and state bigwigs.

Considering all that has been happening here in Wisconsin of late, that last one was a bit tricky.

I knew something was up when the PR person for the Home Campus (a friend of mine) took me aside to make sure that I could remain civil while sitting at a table with a pair of Teabaggers (my word) from the Wisconsin State Assembly. “Of course I can,” I replied. “I don’t have to agree with someone to be civil for the length of a meal.”

I think they were pretty much on the same page as I was, really. We're all a little tired of the situation, even if nobody intends to put an end to it any time soon. A break to celebrate a retirement seemed in order.

I also think that they understood how little support their attempts to gut the university system in this state would get them at an event like this. They seemed quite eager to avoid politics, in fact, and – with the exception of one person at the table who was more of a natterer than a genuinely interested partisan – we were just as eager to let them do so.

And like most people, once you get them off their power trips they turned out to be relatively pleasant company. We spent a fair amount of time discussing the intricacies of Facebook, as I recall. We all agreed that we approve of Facebook. So apparently there is something upon which one can reach bipartisan consensus in Wisconsin these days.

It gives you hope.


Judy said...

You are a much better person than I am. I don't know if I could have been civil.

David said...

Well, it wasn't my event to ruin, and they clearly felt the same.

I will confess to getting up and leaving for a while when the natterer got onto a particularly long jag about how much she enjoys listening to Rush Limbaugh. That would have been a very bad scene had I stayed.