Anybody see the episode of "Ugly Betty" a few weeks back in which Betty prepares for a dinner party with her rich boyfriend's mother by boning up on subjects to chit chat about? As always, the plot involved Betty (fish) out of working-class Queens (water) and the foibles that follow. She's marked by difference at the party, flounders, eventually triumphs. The familiar Betty arc, one of the things that make the show great.
Betty struggles to read social cues. That's her flaw. I can identify. Two weeks ago, somewhat anxious about my first foray into a system-wide (i.e., across all three U-M campuses) program, I head off to Ann Arbor for the first orientation session for the fellowship program I'm doing this summer. I get somewhat gussied up (for me), donning dress pants, a freshly ironed dress shirt, dark socks, the whole thing. I get there and most faculty are casual. "Cool," I think to myself, "a laid-back group of folks. Definitely my speed."
Last night, the second orientation event, this time with dinner. Because a meal's involved, I keep with my dress pants and nice shirt motiff. Get there. Suits, all over the place. Total "Betty" moment. How do I miss these memos?