Some companies inspire rabid loyalty. Although I'm personally loathe to describe myself as rabid anything, I can certainly appreciate the charms of an Apple or Google, and even a trip to Nordstrom can remind me what makes them superior to most other department stores (answer: employees whose motivations include more than just wanting to die).
I don't get particularly worked up over grocery stores though. I know that some are nicer than others, but mostly I want to spend as little time as possible on this weekly chore. Well, if you could find me a grocery store that banned slow-moving old people, I might get a little hot and bothered, but until then, meh.
One of our friends, however, goes ga-ga for Trader Joe's. In fact, she hosts an annual TJ's Soiree, which is a party where every guest brings some sort of Trader Joe's inspired/enhanced dish. This year we were invited, despite the fact that we rarely ever shop at TJ's. Regardless, we found ourselves at this party last night, the second weekend in a row that I was attending a party where I knew practically no one.
The party started off with names being chosen out of a hat for the judges, whose job it was to decide which of the dishes were the best. Two adult and two kid judges were chosen, and ironically one of the names chosen from the hat was my daughter Daisy, who is allergic to eggs, nuts, dairy, and most seeds. Hank and I reviewed the potluck dishes and determined that nearly every single one would either cause Daisy to break out into hives or stop breathing. We pointed out the 3 safe ones to her (answer: plain water crackers, a plain loaf of bread, and the goat cheese pizza).
Daisy decided that she was going to judge the foods based on presentation. Good call.
I impressed myself early on by carrying on an actual conversation with a real live woman in the kitchen at one point. She was an animated conversationalist and I did my best to keep up. When she mentioned how tired she was, I was eager to pursue that topic because I was also kind of pooped from doing an 11 mile run earlier that day. It's not often easy to casually drop that kind of bragging into conversation.
"Why are you so tired?" I asked, merely as a precursor to telling her how I got so tired.
"Oh," she sighed, "I had an enormous amount of sex today."
"You... had... an enormous amount of sex today." I repeated robotically, fairly surprised at this twist in the conversation.
Of course I uttered that sentence just as several other people entered the kitchen.
The sex-woman stared at me.
"Gee, thanks, Mike. I opened up to you because you seemed like a trustworthy guy and the first thing you do is blab about my sex life to everyone at the party. Thanks."
I made my exit from the kitchen immediately thereafter to find the safety of my wife. I was pretty sure she wasn't tired from having sex all day, at least not during the parts of it that I was present for. We chatted with other nice folks and nibbled on the various dishes.
Watching the judges present their awards was my favorite part of the party. The other judges let Daisy do most of the presenting, and that's the sort of thing she shines at. Daisy is probably not the fastest runner in her class, and there are probably some kids who are better spellers, or do math more quickly, but I'd be VERY surprised if you found a better award presenter anywhere in Daisy's 5th grade class. The girl lives for an audience.
Daisy launched into her shtick, reminding us to applaud for winners, to thank our hostess, and generally exuding charm as she passed out the various awards. The other parents, most of whom had never met Daisy before, were pretty amused. I heard a lot of "Oh, my, she's going to host the Oscar's one day" and "Wow, there's the first woman president!" and whatnot.
Hank and I just sat back and grinned.