Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beer is a social lubricant.

Today my fancy think-tank company hosted an internal meet-'n-greet event for our new Military Fellows. For those of you not working (read: not completing indentured servitude, aka interning) at a think tank, a Fellow is like a guest scholar, someone who lends their skills and expertise at a particular subject for a particular period of time. Most of our Military Fellows work with our national security and defense programs.

Anyways, I got the email inviting everyone to the event. It happened to include that magical phrase, "interns invited," and I thought to myself, Why the heck not? I'm helping my boss out with some of his personal research projects, and they happen to focus on global security, so this meet-'n-greet might actually be pertinent. That, and I am always in slight awe of anyone in uniform -- one of our Fellows used to be the second-highest ranking military officer in all of the United States, so I thought it would be pretty cool to meet him. (I also at one point almost joined the military myself, and though I haven't gone far down that path I continue to hold enormous respect for those who serve.)

So at 4:30 I meandered down to the conference room. I stepped in, and this is what I saw: two small clusters of men, all older and very distinguished, all enmeshed in intelligent conversations about the military. Or rather, they were enmeshed in intelligent conversation, because when I walked in they all turned to stare at me. Still standing in the doorway. Very young. Very female. Very intern. 

I swallowed my embarrassment and tried to smoothly sweep in -- "Is this the meet-'n-greet for the new Military Fellows?"

"Yep!" someone answered and I awkwardly-trying-not-to-be-awkward moved toward that voice and joined that cluster. Ohmigosh, I panicked, what do I say? What does someone fresh out of college and fresh to the company talk about with someone who is a total military BOSS?! I was counting on a few buffer-people to gradually introduce me, I was not counting on jumping boldly into a "military memories moment"! I don't think the cluster quite knew what to do with me, either. There were a few awkward silences. I guess that's what happens when you break up the boys' club.

One of them finally moved to the table of hors d'oeuvres and beverages.  "I think it's time for a beer," he said, pulling a cold one from an ice bucket that I had definitely not noticed before.

My company is serving alcohol? Yes. I think it IS time for a beer.

As I made my beeline for the booze, the military guys joked (I think they were joking), "You are over 21, right?"

Yes. I am over 21. Dangit. And watch how fast I drink this.

Turns out, after we cracked the beer it wasn't so hard to chit-chat. (I hear that alcohol does that sometimes...) Turns out, the Military Fellows are new to my company too, so we're all just learnin the ropes and figuring things out. Turns out, after the beer was cracked a bunch more people showed up. (Still mostly guys, but at least they were interns too). And, turns out, I think I made some cool new friends. (A second beer helped. Is it wrong that I contemplated slipping a few spares into my bag?)

Thank you, beer. I knew I loved you.

Oh, PS: The event had a few bottles of wine too, but those remained untouched. 


  1. First, I am envious of your think-tank internshipness right now, since that is the direction I feel I am heading (, at least). Second, I am cracking up watching a mental image of Aftan run to the beer and sit down next to military men reminiscing over their war days. This is too awesome.

  2. All Military functions usually contain alcohol... it helps us think clearly...

  3. Very humerous, as always.


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