Taking a Seat at the (Business Dinner) Table

I’m a working girl, but not that kind of working girl. I can see how you might get confused.

Part of my job description is client entertainment. Just saying that out loud sounds pretty seedy I realize, but it truly is professional. Not that kind of professional, more like in a business sense. Not that kind of business. But you get the picture.

The market closes at 4pm, but about once a week (and oftentimes more than that), I’ll have a dinner meeting on the schedule. It’s a night away from home, a night I don’t get to see my kids. It’s becoming more complicated as they get older and have lives of their own, but we make it work. Sometimes I actually look forward to a work dinner; it’s usually at a great NYC restaurant, the good wine flows freely, and best of all, it’s on the company! But there are some things that can make it quite awkward:

1) The gender ratio: Let’s just say, similar to the makeup of the trading floor, it’s generally not exactly balanced. Picture a table for 7 at Nobu. Six guys in tieless, blazerless suits, and then there’s me. What’s the best seating arrangement when there is no boy girl boy girl? How to handle the half curious, half disgusted looks from married couples who casually glance over at our table? How to move the conversation on from the tedious sports dialogue?

2) My toddler-like eating habits: No I am not allergic to seafood per se. I just don’t like things that swim. So no, I won’t be partaking in the seafood tower, and thanks but I’ll pass on trying crab cakes for the first time with a table full of strangers I would prefer to impress versus gag and spit gross food into a napkin in front of. 

3) The hello’s (and the goodbyes): We’ve met what? Once, twice tops? Does that merit a greeting kiss? An embrace as we part? A handshake always seems so very pathetic and faux-masculine. A casual wave and walking away seems so cold. Have yet to find a happy medium. 

4) Breaking down barriers: Yes, I’d like to be the one to taste the wine since I selected it. Yes, you can you just hand that check over to me since I’m buying tonight. Servers are quick to assume the little lady at the table is just happy to be there, and not actually running the show. And men at the table joking about their wives’ menial book clubs and meaningless daily duties do actually offend even the most successful women. My RBF hasn’t mastered the skill of laughing these offenses off. 

5) Extra-curricular: Gone are the days when after-dinner meant a stop at the local nudie joint. Or so I may think. Young men still like to go out hard and late. Moms in their late 30’s might pretend to be able to hang but we like being in bed before midnight a whole lot more. So there is an uncomfortable dance around what comes after dessert before I ultimately succumb to the exaggerated yawn and the convenient Uber exit. 

I get home and more times than not I’ll be drunk enough that I forgot to pick the car up at the train station. I stumble upstairs, into my PJs, and into bed. I mumble an incoherent executive summary of the evening to Gull before crashing hard on my side of the bed. Hopefully, the alarm is on and I wake up a few hours later to do it all again. 

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One thought on “Taking a Seat at the (Business Dinner) Table

  1. Pingback: I’ll Tell You My Dirty Little Secrets – thecommutary

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