It was like being the designated driver for a bunch of nerds.

10 Aug

The hosts of Planet Money: Alan Davidson & Alex Blumberg

First, an admission: I’m a huge dork and I love “behind the scenes” glimpses of programs I follow. That explains my ticket stubs from NBC’s studio tour (including the SNL set) in New York and NPR’s “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me” show in Chicago.

So it should come as no surprise then that a few weeks ago when NPR hosted a live recording of Planet Money‘s podcast in DC, I eagerly snapped up a ticket. Turns out, I’m not the only nerd in DC. The venue (a Synagogue in Chinatown) was sold out with 800 attendees. I love living in a Nerd Mecca.

One of my friends — whom we’ll call Honer in this post out of a) respect for her privacy and b) her Honorary Nerd status — also picked up a ticket, so we made plans to meet at the show, 30 minutes before doors opened. As my work day wound down, I began receiving texts from Honer, regretting the wine she had consumed the night before.

Not going to call it a hangover, but my head hurts.

Not sure how I’m going to make it tonight. It’s officially a hangover.

Would you think less of me if I show up with a roadie? I think this situation calls for hair of the dog.

But, like a trouper, she was there at the scheduled time, so I dismissed the texts as sheer comedy. We picked up our tickets, headed in, and scored some choice seats in the front row of the balcony, directly overlooking the stage. Shortly after we situated ourselves, a couple came in and sat next to us, the woman in her early 50s, very outgoing and sporting a crisp British accent.

Honer began telling me a story about her office. And as the story went on, her volume increased. The acoustics made the place noisy in general, but I realized people in the row behind us were dialed in, listening to her colorful explanation of the jackasses in her office. Finally, I interrupted her with a time-0ut gesture. “Hey — you’re kind of shouting.”

She looked at me and laughed. “I think maybe I’m buzzed!”

And at that point, I noticed she had a plastic squeezie container in her purse. “What’s in that?” I gestured.


Apparently she HAD opted for hair of the dog. Then, before I could comment, she said, “I know. I’m keeping it classy.”

About this time, I realized that the British woman to my left also smelled like alcohol and was speaking at Volume 12. Good Lord. Was I the only person who had arrived at this event sober?

When the evening’s Emcee (White House correspondent Ari Shapiro) took the stage and opened with the over-used radio quip, “Funny, that’s not what I thought you’d look like either!” the audience exploded with laughter. Yes. Apparently I was the only person who had bypassed happy hour on my way to the event.

At least, I sincerely hope that explains the behavior of the Brit seated next to me. She seemed to believe she was involved in a personal conversation with Alex Blumberg, because instead of simply laughing or clapping, she commented loudly whenever she felt strong agreement or disagreement.

At one point Blumberg made a crack about the British healthcare system (if memory serves), and her response was to start yelling, “Boo! Booooooo! You’re just jealous!” Below us, heads were turning as the audience shifted to see who was causing such a racket in the balcony. I shifted a few inches closer to Honer.

Not exactly the behavior you would expect from well-dressed professional woman. I’m talking about the Brit, not me. Her date looked like he wanted to dash out the fire exit. About this time Honer, whose buzz was clearly wearing off, leaned over and stage whispered, “What is her DEAL?” loudly enough that the woman should’ve picked up on it. But she didn’t.

When the event was over, as we filed out, I overheard the woman saying to her date, “That was brilliant! We’ll have to get tickets to the next show here.” I looked up just in time to see him shaking his head behind her as he muttered, “But next time — maybe we should skip the restaurant and just come straight to the show.”

Amen. Let’s just hope she doesn’t have a plastic squeezie at home.

10 Responses to “It was like being the designated driver for a bunch of nerds.”

  1. Danielle August 10, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    This is me at every single event I go too……………….sad I know.

    • pithypants August 10, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

      Ha! Self awareness is 50% of the battle, right?!

  2. Sara no "H" August 10, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    I’m that person. I get loud and drunk. ha

    • pithypants August 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

      A BYOS(queezie) type of girl. The opposite of high maintenance!

  3. Kim Pugliano August 10, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    A Synagogue in China Town?

  4. Lorna's Voice August 10, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    Perhaps it protocol to show up for these events with a bit of a buzz. One never knows…if the subject is a bit to “dry” at least the audience will have wetted their whistles!

    • pithypants August 10, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

      Or maybe they planned it for 7pm assuming everyone WOULD come straight from happy hour? Bound to liven things up, in any case!

  5. HollyG August 12, 2011 at 1:00 am #

    what a crazy friend you have!

    • pithypants August 12, 2011 at 10:06 am #

      She’s really quite unruly. But she keeps things interesting!

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