Tonight, however, was the Welcoming Reception which meant that I had to actually put on pants and a collared shirt and join her for dinner and happy hour at the university. I was not looking forward to it. You see, I'm very excited for Kristin to be going back to school for an Executive MBA, but I'm also very afraid. I'm scared to death that my lovely wife is going to turn into just another corporate drone who forgets how to talk like a normal person. I'm petrified actually. Fortunately, we have an understanding: I'm going to be completely supportive of her and do everything I can to help her juggle a full-time job with full-time schooling (20 credits!!!) so long as she leaves the marketing speak at school and work. The first time I catch her using made-up words like "scalable synergy" in a sentence at home, she has to drop out. One utterance of "low hanging fruit" or "leveraging assets" and her textbooks get torched. If I'm on the phone with her and she tells me to "standby" instead of asking me to hang on for a second, I confiscate her laptop and disassemble the desk I set up for her in my office. You think I'm kidding?
As for tonight's reception, it was nice. I think that's the word I'm looking for. There are 36 students split between two classes -- excuse me, they're called cohorts not classes -- and most everyone was there with a guest. Kristin is clearly one of the younger students in the bunch, which made me even more proud of her for getting accepted into the program. And I'll admit that it was somewhat interesting to meet people and hear about their different backgrounds. There were lots of folk from some pretty major companies as well people from an arts background, a dentist, small business types, etc., etc. Of course, there were also those who already had their shill-speak polished to a sheen and ready to be unfurled at a moment's notice. Would you believe I actually heard a guy stand up and say during dinner that he "was moved by the business school's mission statement." Are you kidding me? Moved? By a mission statement? It took all of my strength and determination to not flee the room in horror. Another student (neither are in Kristin's cohort, thankfully) stood up and managed to work various forms of the word "transformative" into roughly 6 of the ten sentences he uttered. Yes, I was in fact counting because, well, it was either that or shove a spoon up my ass for, as comedian Lewis Black said, "If I'm going to hurt that much, I'm going to do it to myself." And let me tell you, that spoon next to the coffee cup caught my eye several times.
Thankfully, there were two moments of salvation in this otherwise dark and lonely night. The first came via the fourth and final student who got up to talk about his reasons for entering the program. He's a manager at Costco who, by a stroke of divine intervention, was able to speak like a normal human being. His words were honest, unrehearsed, and clearly audible thanks to him not having his face buried in the Director's rear-end -- another first for the night. And I swear the man's khakis and polo shirt emitted a golden aura and that a fountain of honey poured forth from his mouth. I lapped at these honey words like a dog at a garden hose and when he finished, I was saddened. He was my hero and I wagged my tail feverishly in hopes of an encore.
The second moment that made me glad to have come was when one of the alumni were speaking. She was there to tell everyone about her experiences in the program. I believe it was during her fourth poem that we began to hear water being spilt on the floor. The sound grew louder by the second, so we turned around. In the ceiling not 15 feet behind us, a pipe had burst. The dripping water became a steady flow which became a torrent within minutes. Ceiling tiles began to yellow, sag, then collapse to the ground. Young janitorial men reached for their cellphones and called... someone. Still the water rained down. The dean made an attempt at capturing the flooding cascade in a waste basket and was almost hit by another falling ceiling tile. It was awesome.
Unfortunately, I was in a room of aspiring Leaders who synchronously "put their game faces on" and refused to be deterred by such distractions. My instincts were to reach for my cellphone's videocamera, but order was restored before I had even finished laughing. And, after a five minute reprieve from the absurdity spewing forth from the podium, we were ushered forward and a mechanical partition closed behind us. There's nothing to see here, keep moving. And so she did. She jumped right back into that fourth or fifth poem and finished on a high note. Yes, she too exalted the mission statement.
And a small piece of me died inside...