Winos of Saigon unite.

I attended a nighttime industry event last week. It was invite-only, and I was pleased to have been on the guest list (and thrilled that it was +1 so that I could drag Larry along). Many of my peers would be there, tons of F & B folks - that’s Food & Beverage for those of you not familiar with restaurant lingo -  loads of wine  distributors (who, inexplicably, are mostly French. The distributors, not the wine).  So we dressed up, me in heels I soon regretted about 15 minutes into the night, Larry in suit and tie, and set out to paint the town red.  Australian wine was being poured, and I know I wasn’t the only one the next day who had a rockin’ hangover.  All expats in the F & B business are winos. All of us.

Someone I used to work with showed up about halfway through the night, and I could tell by the way he was furtively glancing around, his awkward bursts of animated conversation, and his inability to stand still that he was on something. I went to fetch him an empty wine glass, god knows why though I guess since I once worked with him I felt obligated to try to smooth the rough edges he was creating; indeed he was emanating spiky and intense vibes.  When a server came around to pour some wine, he looked at the label and barked out, “Is that all you’ve got? Don’t you have anything better to drink?”. Pretty rich, I thought, trying to conceal my shock, considering the event was free for us and the wine was decent. I glanced over to one of my friends who helped organize the event. She giggled awkwardly and said there was some Penfolds being served in the lobby. “Penfolds?”, he inquired. “Nah, I hate Penfolds. I guess this will have to do”.  I tried to avoid him the rest of the night, but we all ended up doing an after party at a nearby favorite watering hole. Since he and I have many mutual acquaintances in common, obviously he showed up, having refueled on whatever substance he had previously inhaled and was now bouncing off the walls.

While still at the event, with wine continuously pouring and people getting happier by the minute, I started chatting with a guy who looked kind of familiar to me but could not place. Though I’m not good with names, I never forget a face, so he and I spent a few minutes trying to figure out where we knew each other from. When he told me he’d been here a number of years and is part owner of  such-and-such restaurant group, I remembered him.

“We met at my boss’s house”, I said, an evil grin slowly forming on my face. “We exchanged business cards. You said we should meet up for drinks and discuss business ideas. So I emailed you… and never heard back”.  Full on evil grin at this point.

“Uh… Oh yes hahaha yes well… I never emailed you back?”, he said nervously. His own smile disappeared, and I kept grinning.

“Nope. Never. Isn’t it sad that everyone in this town exchanges business cards with promises of getting together, but turns out it’s all pomp and circumstance and it’s just a game to see who’s got the best looking business card? Oh, and by the way, mine are fantastic”.

“But I promise you I’ll email you back!”, he stammered. “I really do! I am indeed interested in discussing ideas with you! I’ll get right on it next week!”

“Okay. I’ll patiently wait for your email then",  I said, smiling sweetly, then turning away to talk to a friend.

I haven’t heard from him of course.

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