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My Night With The American Ambassador (And What Not To Say To War Veterans)

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Dallas Boyd
Dallas Boyd

 The other day I opened my email to find I was “cordially invited to a private cocktail reception” with the U.S. Ambassador and Deputy Chief.
I considered not going - too poofy for me - plus I already had plans for the night. I was going to go home, turn on the telly (but not watch it), stare vacantly in the fridge for a while, and then potter about the house looking dishevelled. But then I got an email from one of my employers saying “Don’t forget to come tonight!” And so I went, consoled by the possibility of free nibbles.
Never sure how formal these things are, I tried to cover all my bases by wearing jeans and jandals (casual) with a sparkly shirt and expensive perfume (flash). At the very least I would smell good. Pointlessly stressing that I was running a good five minutes late, I arrived to find a good turn-out of people, mingling and sipping free booze. God I hate mingling - social situations always make me feel like the elephant man. Luckily I have a tactic to help me break the ice with strangers.
At most social gatherings, there’s usually “that guy” - friendly, jolly and borderline drunk. So I sniffed him out and he proceeded to introduce me to everyone in the room by telling them how lovely and helpful I am… (like I said, he was tipsy). But it didn’t matter - he got me “in” and talking with important men from the U.S. delegation.
Now you should take note, this is important - when you are talking to an American war veteran there are certain things you probably shouldn’t do or say. I figured this out one day while comparing scars with strangers in a hostel. A man showed me a scar and told me he got shot in Vietnam and I laughed my ass off. “Righto, righto, good one, I got this scar in ‘Nam too! We never did find Charlie!”
Turns out he really was shot during the Vietnam War - sensitive.
Anyway, at this stage of the evening I’m feeling quite pleased with myself - successfully mingling at a private reception I was cordially invited to! I even met the Mayor, who insisted on kissing my hand more times than I think was necessary.
While I was trying to make semi-intelligent conversation with a man from the Embassy, he started talking about the 1991 war in Iraq he fought in, back when George Bush’s dad was the president. I was only 6 years old during that time, so I shut up and listened. Which gave somebody else the opportunity to earnestly pipe up and say “It would have been good if you’d have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein the first time aye?” I wondered if that was another thing you probably shouldn’t say to a War Veteran (sensitive).
Luckily no damage was done, the free nibbles were brought out (yes!!) and I got my photograph taken with the American Ambassador. (Not because I asked, but because someone took my camera and said “Get in the photo Dallas!”)… However I did ask him to autograph it… Which he didn’t.
With my mingling done for the night, I can now look forward to spending the rest of my nights this week in uninterrupted pottering-about-the-house mode. Eating ice cream straight from the tub… randomly moving things about the house under the pretence of “tidying“…. flicking from channel to channel on T.V. faster than I even know what‘s on and declaring it‘s all crap.
And I don’t feel bad about it.


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