A few years ago I wrote an essay about my trip to South Africa and it was published in the Kansas City Star. Shortly after that, I received a call from the South African Consulate telling me how much they liked the story and asking me if my husband and I would attend their Freedom Day party.
“OF COURSE I WILL!” I shouted.
I may have been over excited, but it was because the night would be All About ME. My husband is a politician, so I’ve spent years being “the spouse” at hundreds of events. Some of the perks that come with being The Spouse are:
- We arrive at a function and pick up our name-tags. His will be printed in bold even letters, mine will be hastily hand-written.
- People speak to me as if I’m in grade school – pasting a big smile on their faces and over-enunciating their patronizing words. “I’ll bet you had a wonderful day of shopping while your husband was working, didn’t you?”
- Or, I’m the one pasting the giant smile on my face while the two of them speak in some foreign language. “I’m concerned about SB121. Blah, blah, blah, motion to amend, blah, blah, blah, above the line, blah, blah, blah.”
But not this time. This time, my husband would be the one standing around with nothing to say or do, a plastic smile plastered on his face. The joy of Freedom Day increased with every thought I had about how miserable he would be.
We arrive at the event and the elevator doors open onto the first phase of Operation: It’s All About ME. The name-tag table. I’m embarrassed to tell you how giddy I was at the thought of having an actual printed name-tag and secretly hoping that his would be the one that was handwritten. Yes, I’m dreadful. I admit it. Let’s just move on, shall we?
We walk up, and the assistant sitting behind the table jumps up. “Oh! Senator Vratil. How nice to see you. I have your name-tag right here.” She hands it to him – neatly printed in Times New Roman. As my eyes rake the table, searching for mine, I hear her dreaded question… “And who’s this with you?”
All the color drains from my face and like a fish gasping for air my mouth opens and closes several times. As hot, angry tears threatened to spill over my lashes, I run to the bathroom where I pace back and forth, humiliated and enraged. Sure, I’ve killed a mouse, I sputter. Maybe even a few cockroaches, but I mean really, Karma? Did I deserve this?
Pulling myself together, I finally return to my husband, who holds the vile hand-written name-tag in his hand. I snatch the paper from him and rip it to shreds.
“Uh, are you okay?” he asks.
“Perfectly fine,” I say, grabbing his arm and with my head held high, marching into the reception.
Since It’s All About ME, at first my brain only registered the humiliation I had just suffered by not receiving the golden award of a computer printed name-tag. But eventually, even my ego had to shut up long enough to listen to the speakers. They shared their stories of abuse and emotional struggles during apartheid and the joy they felt when democracy came to their country.
Sigh. I wish I could tell you that I had a complete change in attitude after those speeches. I mean… it wasn’t like I was totally callous. I did actually realize that in the big scheme of things, a sticky piece of paper with my name printed on it, is truly unimportant.
But at the end of the speeches, when they called my name and talked about the article I’d written, I have to admit that all I thought was… YES! It’s All About ME!
Guess what? I’ve been writing this blog for a year! Amazing. If this post made you smile, share me on your Facebook page and if you’re feeling really generous, click LIKE on my author’s page. Then again, maybe it’s not such a good idea to reinforce OPERATION: IT’S ALL ABOUT ME.