I recently had the opportunity to attend a 3-day seminar. I’d been told by someone whose opinion I value, and who attended the seminar before me, that it was a pretty good one and well worth my time. It was, he said, rather enjoyable.
Only now I think my friend must have been hit in the back of the head by a baseball bat and gotten all the sense knocked completely out of him. Because the seminar was awful. It was a nightmare in that “OMG this is so dull I think I’m going to die!” nightmare kind of way. And most unfortunately, the whole thing was not a dream. Unless it’s possible to have dreams that continue for 3 days straight?
I know it sounds cliché but still, I would have had more fun watching paint dry for the rest of eternity than sit through this seminar for three days. Nonetheless, I was in it for the duration.
The seminar leader had lots of anecdotes to share and he insisted we go round the room and introduce ourselves.
One woman was named Loretta only he thought she had said “Lorrette” and he said “I have a sister named Lorette. I wasn’t sure if you said Lorretta with an “A” or “Lorrette” with an “E” but I’ve never met any one else with the name Lorrette so I thought “Wow! This is the first time I’ve met another Lorette!” Only he was wrong because the woman said, “Well, it’s Loret-TA, with an A, so…”
When he got to me I expected him to say “Oh, one of my aunt’s is named Belle only she spells it B-E-L-L. You have an extra E on the end I guess, but WOW! I’ve never met another person named Belle…” And I was all ready to say to him “Okay, YOU are a total and complete ding dong.” Only I didn’t get a chance to because he didn’t have much to add after I’d introduced myself. And he didn’t have anything to say about my name.
The seminar mostly entailed the speaker droning on and on and occasionally directing us to a particular page in our seminar binder. Then once we’d found the correct page he’d read it out loud to us, only in a Cliff’s Note’s version, skipping most of what was written and emphasizing anything that happened to be printed in the binder in BOLD. Because clearly, those of us who signed up for this seminar can’t read. Or rather, we can’t read between the lines where it said “This will bore you off your ass to the point that you’ll contemplate pinching your nipples in the 3-ring binder just to wake yourself up.”
At some point I happened to look up and noticed that the speaker was looking at me and nodding fast with raised eyebrows in a “Yes? Yes?” kind of way as if he were confirming something. Because I was only half paying attention I stared back at him and started to worry. Had I inadvertently agreed to something? Had I offered to meet him back at the hotel bar after we wrapped up for the day? I didn’t think I had, so why was he looking at me like that? Had I drifted off, fallen asleep? Had I been caught SNORING?
But then I noticed he was doing the same thing to all the other attendees. In fact, he raised his eyebrows and nodded his head swiftly up and down after each thing he said, as if to emphasize a point. The more I watched, the more I realized that thing he did was a tic more or less and that actually this guy had an uncanny resemblance to Steve Carell from the T.V. show The Office. He was quite tan too. Like maybe Steve Carell had been hanging out at the tanning salon with George Hamilton.
Once I figured out he looked like Steve Carell I spent the better part of the first afternoon just under the surface of mirth, trying but sometimes failing, not to laugh out loud as I imagined him veering off topic and spouting something inane and politically incorrect. Perhaps, I thought, he’d tell us how all the women in the class ought to pinch their nipples in their 3 ring-binders to liven the place up. Only he didn’t.
The second day I imaged we could put on a live version of an episode of The Office and I twisted in my seat and began to search around the room for suitable folks to play the roles of various characters on the show. I decided I would play the part of Pam or maybe I’d let the lady with the long hair do that and I’d be the person who holds the video camera that everyone talks into on the show. That way I wouldn’t have to touch up my makeup or memorize any lines.
After that I imagined we were being addressed by Evan Almighty. Only I couldn’t take that line of thinking very far because I haven’t actually seen the movie. My musings were limited to the bit scenes I’d caught in the movie’s trailer.
On the third day I racked my brain for other Steve Carell movies but could only come up with The 40 –Year- Old Virgin. That didn’t work for me because that guy, well I kind of rooted for him in that movie. He was geeky, sure, but he was endearing. This guy standing in front of us was just boring. I couldn’t empathize.
Finally, I resorted to the only tactic I had left. I clamped the 3-ring binder down hard on my left nipple. I pretended it was an accident and I left the room in search of a band-aid and some pain killers. I couldn’t find any band aids but I did find the coffee cart and got myself a hunk of chocolate. I ate that slowly and by the time I returned to the seminar room, Steve Carell was wrapping it up and everyone got to go home.
Now that I’m done telling you my story I’m going to call my friend who suggested the seminar in the first place and see how his head is feeling. I’m thinking that to have recommended that seminar he had to have been injured pretty badly. I wonder if his head hurts as much as my left nipple does?