At this point I announced
to the table that I didn’t
eat seafood other than
canned tuna, thus demonstrating myself as a
woman of selective taste
with a refined palate.
er course on the court myself, courtesy of
Google and the fear that I wouldn’t recog-
4. Go with the flow.
When the day of the dinner finally arrived, I was swamped at work and barely
made it out of the office in time to change.
once home, I discovered that every dress
in my closet was absolutely horrible and
could never be worn in public ever again.
The Backup Dress beckoned. I jammed
myself into it with the same amount of
force that expels a circus performer from
a cannon. Unable to distinguish an evening gown from a burlap sack, my ladies’-fashion-challenged boyfriend proved
incapable of discerning whether the dress
was “obscenely tight.” After determining
that I could avoid splitting seams by standing with my legs crossed at the ankle, we
left for the restaurant. We drove there in
my filthy Toyota corolla, which I had not
had time to wash before the dinner or during the six months before the dinner.
5. Master witty banter.
We were first introduced to Associate
chief Justice charles Johnson, whose
illustrious legal career is remarkably
similar to mine in that we are both
people. I told him all about my work in
community association law, which I am
certain was the highlight of his evening.
Later we chatted with chief Justice Barbara Madsen, during which I learned
that she comes from a family of lawyers.
I somehow managed to work my cat
into the conversation, which happens in
about 100 percent of my conversations.
At this point my boyfriend became fully
engrossed in his name tag, which appeared to be magnetically repelled by
his suit and kept falling to the ground.
Then I started eyeing the appetizers,
but decided that there was no room for
crudités inside the silk-blend sausage
casing I was wearing.
6. Work the room.
Before taking our seats, I caught up with
WSBA Governor-at-Large (YLc) Robin
Haynes, who, unlike me, is no stranger to
dinners with fancy lawyers and validated
parking. We discussed how eastern
Washington seems to lack a sufficient
number of female attorneys, and how
the new attorney we hired in my office
— a mutual friend — is very small and
therefore probably does not consume a
lot of oxygen. I opted to sit next to Justice
Susan owens rather than my boyfriend,
since he has no stories to tell about his
road to the highest court in the state. (His
road pretty much always leads to Subway
or ReI, where he purchases outdoor gear
that gets used about once annually but
takes up space in my storage room all
year.) I thought about chatting with Jus-
tice Sheryl Gordon Mccloud, who was
awesomely wearing converse high-tops
and looked friendly and inviting. But,
unfortunately, I am intimidated by ap-
7. Turn on the charm.
At this point I announced to the table that
I didn’t eat seafood other than canned
tuna, thus demonstrating myself as a
woman of selective taste with a refined
palate. (Incidentally, we were at a restaurant that had the word “seafood” in
its name.) Then I excused myself to the
restroom. There I noted that, due to the
stress of preparing for the evening and
pretending that I knew what anyone was
talking about, my traitorous deodorant
had congealed into some sort of three-dimensional manifestation of social
anxiety. My “Secret” antiperspirant was
no longer living up to its name.
8. Make a lasting impression.
Unperturbed, I returned to my table to
find that Justice owens, the apparent
social butterfly of the court, had jumped
ship for another table (hopefully not for
underarm-related reasons). She was re-
placed by chief Justice Madsen, who
indulged me in a conversation about
hiking, during which I mentioned that
my friends carry 40s of malt liquor to
weigh down their packs for “training.” I
also divulged my love of cheetos — puffy,
not crunchy — and the fact that I once put
my own cheese from home on a Dick’s
cheeseburger to save 25 cents. I neglect-
ed to mention that this event occurred
only a month or two ago.
I proceeded to end the dinner portion
of the evening by inviting my boyfriend
and myself to go kayaking with another
committee member, who lives in our
neighborhood and owns a few boats. Surprisingly, no kayak trip has since been
scheduled with my fellow WSBA volunteer. He has, however, provided me with a
client referral, which is less fun but more
lucrative than a kayaking trip.
9. Hit up the after-party.
We followed up dinner by stopping
by the apartment to change into more
breathing-friendly clothing for my friend
Henry’s birthday-party-slash-cancer-research-benefit. My new dress featured
sheer paneling around the waist, which is
probably not a justice-approved sartorial
detail. At the party I ran into my old college roommate, attorney Rachel Hunter.
We danced with our friends — and without the ease with which we danced in
heels during our university days — while
I dreamt of the big bowl of cereal I was going to eat when I got home.
As the description of my evening attests, I know how to impress at a fancy
dinner party while still having a good
time. For more information about how to
steal the show at big-time events, please
email me to ask about my high-school reunion and my childhood stint in competitive tap dancing. nwl
is a community association
is a member
of the WSBA
Editorial Advisory Committee. She
can be reached at allison.peryea@
leahyps.com and is more likely
to respond to emails that include
links to cat videos.