In my pre-baby days, I traveled the world as a journalist producing country branding reports. These are some of my adventures…
When the Minister of Agriculture invites you to dinner to “try the very best of his country” you go.
My teammates and myself were on assignment in Yerevan, Armenia and we had just finished our fifth interview within the government.
The dinner invitation was translated to us by interpreter as the 80-year-old Minister didn’t speak a word of English.
Free food and wine?? I didn’t really care if he spoke at all. I was in!
We were picked up that evening in a private car, whisked away to a place outside the city and shuffled into a beautiful venue with outside seating surrounding a center stage.
We were a party of twelve: my team of three, the Minister, his entourage, and two bodyguards. I guess the wheat and peach business can get pretty violent and you can’t be too careful around fig picking season. Already I saw food placed on the table.
The Minister sat beside me and began to communicate by shoveling food onto my plate. I had purposely staved myself that day so I accepted everything the Minister offered. This also included every type of wine that the country produced.
I’m not sure when the entertainment started but suddenly a sequined clad couple began belting out 80’s hits, karaoke style. Classics such as “Cumin I lean” and “Girlz Just Wanna Huffin” were sung through thick accents and shameful creative liberty.
Plate after plate came and by the sixth course, I began to slur my request that we stop soon.
“What? This was just the appetizer,” said the Minister’s Chief of Staff.
It was a blur from there. Seriously I couldn’t see very well.
I know there was meat and something green but can’t tell you much more. The only thing I can remember was that suddenly the singers had back up dancers. Four life sized Teletubbies started dancing and singing in the background. I could only stare.
When we were finally allowed to leave, I could barely put one foot in front of the other so I didn’t notice that we had played musical cars.
I was now in the back seat of the Minister’s car with one of my colleagues. For all I knew our other friend was left for dead back at the restaurant. The Chief of Staff was doubling as the driver so that he could translate and the Minister rode up front.
The Minister played with the radio and found a salsa station. Sure, that made sense. “Turn up the music!” I screamed.
Roberto was Brazilian and due to the fact that liquor had now replaced water as the greatest substance in my body, we were soon doing the shoulder samba in the back seat.
I guess the Minister felt a little left out because when I made the dumbass comment that it was too bad he wasn’t back here with us, the car screeched to a stop in the middle of the highway.
A door slam later and I was soon making room for grandpa in the back.
Now crammed in the middle, I had no choice but to continue our little fiesta.
For a man in his twilight years, he was surprisingly handsy. My lap soon became a pair of make-shift bongos and the Minister tapped away contently to the beat.
“We go to club,” announced the Chief of Staff still driving.
“No, we need to go back to the hotel,” I told him. “We have a bunch of meetings. Very early. We need to sleep.”
“Cancel meetings. We go to club. Minister say so,” argued the Chief of Staff.
Crap. What do I say now?
Nothing. I threw up and won the argument. Twenty minutes later, we pulled into the hotel.
That’s right ladies, looking for a way to bow out (I never said gracefully) at the end of the night?? A little vomit does the trick every time.
Anyway good ways you got out of continuting the party? It doesnt have to involve throwing up or Armenia?