I went to a dinner party tonight after work. It was hosted by the same woman who threw the New Year’s Eve party that I almost completely missed. As I’d expected, it was full of interesting people: there was an environmental lawyer, a graduate student in social work, an environmentalist who works at the World Wildlife Foundation on climate change issues, a prosecutor who was preparing for a murder trial in two weeks, a person who works at a think tank specializing in Middle East issues, and a few others whose occupations I never learned but who were alumni of the University of Michigan. The group was definitely well-traveled, politically to the left, and very well educated.
Thing is, while the group was interesting to me, I’m not sure the feeling was mutual for some of the others. Here’s how one conversation went:
Climate Change Guy: And what kind of law do you practice?
Me: I’m in the corporate group at C&B, downtown.
Climate Change Guy: Ah, yes. Of course you are.
Me: I also do a lot of media-related work. So it’s a mix of M&A and financing, but also work for broadcasters, newspapers, magazines, the major sports leagues, the International and US Olympic Committees — lots of content licensing and distribution, digital media.
Climate Change Guy: Hmm. And do you do anything interesting?
* * *
But people sang a different tune when they discovered I’d brought chocolate cake. At regular intervals the conversation and card games would be interrupted with the increasingly insistant “When do we get to have chocolate cake?” It even became a point of leverage for the hostess to prevent certain people from leaving — “If you leave now, you won’t get any chocolate cake!” When it was finally time, everyone had a piece; some had seconds. The poor store-bought apple streudel was practically ignored (and the one person who did have a piece ate it with a tranche of chocolate cake).
Despite my trepidation (I’d baked it too long), the cake was a hit. Everyone tried to guess the ingredients: Liqueur? Pineapple? Raspberry? Almond? One woman actually got all the key ingredients (which I will not list here). “So you’re a really serious baker?” she said.
Clearly, this was the angle I should have taken when introducing myself to this group in the first place.