Big rant. Apologies. OK, not really. I went solo to this business networking debacle the other night. So proud. Bad move. Bottom line, what a train wreck. My sister used to tell me how she didn’t actually “like” people—well, most. Generally. I kinda get that now. I tool around for hour looking for parking and finally find this place. Get to door. Now I’m holding this 300 lb. front door open because I was fortunate enough to land the “not quite in or out” limbo position. Always seem to be that guy. So I finally get to the front of the cue and yes… wait. Forever. Two host gals are checking tickets at the front table and dealing with a couple nutjobs. Duder A starts arguing with one gal about having already paid and Duder B is hitting on the other one—poorly. Ooooh…! I’m next. I’m waiting for the welcome spiel but both women are looking away now, on another planet—oblivious—like Shakespearean actors distantly gazing into the heavens searching for a forgotten line. What the… I paid for this? I’m losing my overstimulated little mind. Uhm helloooooo? Can you not see me? Is this Sixth Sense? I’m 6’ 7” for the love of… I spend well over an hour prepping for this little dog and pony show going through maybe a dozen looks for the right vibe. Polished pro? Dot-com chic? Edgy renaissance dude? Nope. I obviously chose invisible guy. Super. I grab my free drink ticket, and before I can head to the bar, one of the hosts says to get my name tag from across the room which is about 300 yards away. Why didn’t THEY have it? Mingle strategy? Don’t be argumentative- just do it. I get my watered down drink and eavesdrop on an argument between Duder (where are we now?) Duder C and a bartender about exchanging the ticket for a different top-shelf drink. No dice buddy – move along. Then I wade through the herd of close-talker, acqua de gio soaked cattle and stumble over to the tag table—which weren’t really tags. Color coded stickers that I had to fill out with my own anxiety-ridden scrawl. Sticker color apparently relates to ones particular field. The old star-bellied sneetch story comes to mind immediately. Who are you? Sorry. Not in my field. You can’t help me. Not interested. In my particular case some back office whiz kid decided advertising and graphic design weren’t even in same ballpark and were separate colors so I tore two in half and stuck them together. At this point I essentially threw in the towel on the professional aspect of this exercise. I scribbled Fred Garvin under name and male prostitute in company area. Thought for sure I’d get a laugh. One connection? A smile? Not a glance. Crickets. All due respect to sales guys, if you were the car dealer aggressive type, this, no doubt would be a little slice of heaven. But to me, torturous. Loud, nervous laughter—desperation you could cut with a knife. My brain kept saying “give it a chance you idiot, you just got here” but it seemed everyone was already engaged in some sort of scintillating conversation, my drink was gone, I was uber-sober, self conscious now and had no idea how to burst in. Either I just steamroll my way into a conversation, which isn’t my thing or I just tower uncomfortably close, staring quietly at the group with a moronic grin until they’re so weirded out by frankenstalker that they run screaming or ignore me. I left after 20 minutes and got tacos. Gordita crunch. Awesome. Well worth the digestive torture. The gal at drive-up window said I looked great. Looking forward to next event!