Sunday, June 12, 2011

Company Dinners

I've always found company dinners to be painful. On the outside, they seem like a fun thing to do -- free food, unique people, and opportunity to get out of the house and hire a babysitter. But that's really just the surface. I usually end up watching the clock, waiting for a chance to bolt. Am I the only one who feels like this? Do you enjoy going to your spouses' company dinners?

This past couple of weeks I've attended 3 said dinners. The first seemed worthwhile. Dave is celebrating his 5-year mark with Transocean and the dinner was celebrating all those with 5-, 10-, or even 40-year milestones.

They chose a Swiss restaurant called "Chalet" (are they all named that?? Dave just got back from eating at LE CHALET restaurant in Gruyeres, Switzerland. Truly, one of the coolest places on the planet. I was glad he got to make this trip, because while we lived in Switzerland I got to go 3 times, and he was always working. But I digress...) Anyway, after the preamble of congratulating everyone, we started our meal by opening the wine with a sword. That actually, was pretty cool. I'm thinking by now that maybe I'll get some raclette and good swiss beef and butter (will they truly have Swiss butter?)

But someone found it convenient to have a preset menu (never a good choice). I am no foodie, and when this is the case I barely recognize anything on the menu. Let me preface this all by saying that I loathe seafood. Tuna is all I can do. Yes, I've tried all the "less fishy" stuff, and I still can't do it.

I'm used to having the starter salad being gross, whether it be crab or romaine. Either way, I know it will be no good. Next comes 3 huge oysters disguised with some cheese melted on top. Even the Indian across from me can't stomach them. In my opinion, anything you have to follow with Lime Sorbet to get the taste out of your mouth isn't worth eating. I did, however, eat the sorbet.

Next came the toughest beef ever. Not Swiss. For sure. But I was too involved in the man telling the story about how used to be a Blackjack card counter and has been literally thrown out of casinos by thugs.

The music at this restaurant was pretty mellow. A live band wandered from table to table. They came to us and invited the 40-year milestoner to choose a song. He chose "Feelings." So now, the whole table starts singing. I am the only one laughing, everyone else is serious. Truly one of the most entertaining moments. Only topped when the chef brought out his flame and mixing bowl and started jamming with the band with his spoon beating the time of the music as he makes the meal.

That was dinner #1.

Number Two sounded less interesting: The 21st Annual Oilmen's Gala Dinner. When I hear "semi-formal" I've learned that it will probably be boring. This one had particularly disgusting food. Every course had some sort of fish, from crab salad to curried mussel soup, again a sorbet to get the nasty taste out of your mouth, cod filet with squid inside eggplant rolls, finally finished with berry mille feuille. Whatever that is. I should have eaten the mac n cheese I fed the kids before I left.

The band was your typical Malaysian cover band singing everything from "Endless Love," to what sounded like the Love Boat Theme, to Peter Cetera, Laura Branigan, etc. They do love their love ballads here. That act was followed by some funny Chinese man impersonating a Chinese man who then impersonated Michael Jackson. Seems we had one of those in Egypt...

We got some cool leis at the party though. Oh, and a cool laser pointer.

Dinner #3 was kind of an event. It was a Transocean Family Weekend at Thistle Port Dickson, a resort on the Malacca Strait. We were a day late to this because of above gala. Only an hour and a half's drive from KL, we had a fun time on the beach. I attended a very poorly administrated family activity and decided to bag the rest of them, and took to the beach while Dave attended team building exercises. Good choice.

We had another dinner that night and drank what I suspected was hibiscus, or we could have had coconut milk out of the coconut. I avoided the stingray wrapped in banana leaf and went for a hefty helping of potatoes. (It's in my roots.)

I was actually impressed that the company would send us all to this great resort for 3 days. Maybe company dinners aren't so bad after all . . .

POSTSCRIPT: After reading this, I forgot to comment on the people. I am a small-town girl, I admit it. I remember my dad commenting on my table manners (or lack thereof) and trying to teach me to eat properly. Let's just say Dave had to teach me the hand-sign "b" and "d" trick so I could figure out which bread and which drink was mine. Anyway, while I was desperately trying to choose the right fork, I was also trying to make conversation with people I don't know. Kudos to Dave who deals with these people every day. It is hard to decipher their English through thick Australian, British, Malay-Chinese, Malay-Indian, Malay, Russian, Scottish, French, you-get-the-point accents. I have to listen VERY hard (with my still one ear. No, I still don't have my hearing back). I always sweat bullets when someone actually directs a question towards me. I'm pretty sure I offended no less than one person. One guy asked me where I was from. Before my brain could react I blurted, "Do you know Idaho?" I was fairly certain he was American, though his accent was Eastern. But at least I was smart enough NOT to say, "The United States." Duh.


emilyaaa said...

LOVE this post! i love hearing about all your adventures--even the nasty ones! I'm not a picky eater AT ALL, and those oysters would have sent me over the edge....naaaast!

Deb said...

That was fun to read!! You guys are having quite the adventure! Can't wait to hear more!!