One story that I have told over and over again (and it gets better every time as the years go by because I barely remember what REALLY happened at this point) happened during my very first posting at the Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan. Pakistan was my first tour and almost my first venture overseas (Mexico for spring break and Canada pretty much don't count). So needless to say, I was ill prepared for it.
Back then, I was young (still in my 20s amazingly enough) and I still cared about doing a good job. I was trying to figure out what it was I was supposed to be doing (I have since discovered that nobody really knows and we're all just kinda winging it). SO I chose to emulate others, and the "others" were hosting dinner parties and smoozing with folks.
I sent out my invites to some local Pakistanis and other embassy officials in town -- and, thinking I was all "in the know" I indicated that the dinner started at 7 pm so that the Pakistani invitees would arrive by 9 or 10 (I learned this valuable lesson when I showed up ON TIME to a wedding, and found the hosts horrified because they were still setting up and not even dressed...)
So I'm standing in my kitchen cutting up cheese by the sink and my neighbor (a prominent Pakistani doctor) arrives at 7:30. So rather than freaking out (I did a little) I told him that he was the first to arrive and I was just cutting up some cheese and it would just be a second. He sat down at the kitchen table by the baguette I had already sliced up and I returned to the sink to cut the cheese up quickly so that I could offer him a snack - chattering nonstop to fill my nervousness.
I hear crunching, and then, "MMM! This is really good Pate, what kind is it?"
Pate? I don't remember getting any pate?..... and then I turn.....and my mouth falls open in horror. This influential Pakistani doctor (trained in America - which is why I invited him because he seemed so very "normal" to my small-town in Montana raised self) was dipping pieces of baguette into the canned catfood I had put out for my kitty Howard on the table. (I had to put the food on the table because Poods thought that stuff was the the shit and would try to eat it all, and a huge fight would ensue between the two).
That shit was tuna AND chicken flavor...it was in the SHAPE of a can and had that damned liquid "gravy" surrounding it. It was ALSO sitting in a bowl that had a kitty batting at a ball of string and some random fish all decoratively placed around the edges.... WTF man!?!?
There was a stunned silence while I started in horror and tried to think of something -- ANYTHING -- to say. I came up with "Tuna steak with chicken?" (gag)
"This is FABULOUS." Crunch, crunch..dip...crunch.
I was in a panic. People were going to show up - not everyone was going to fall for the pate excuse - and what if Howie.....SHIT SHIT SHIT. Howie walked into the kitchen, saw that the guy was eating his food (my pets take after me when it comes to food - you don't mess with that shit) and he stopped short, his ears went flat......Now I knew Howie...and he was my precious baby boy (but literally weighed almost 27 pounds - he was a BIG precious baby boy) but he was also sort of a jackass kitty. As if in slow motion I saw him crouch and leap for the table, and in a move that will forever be known as my Ninja interception, I was able to reach the table simultaneously and scoop Howie up before he planted himself in front of his bowl. With a, "bad kitty! He NEVER does that?" I took a growling and hissing Howie down the hall to lock him in my bedroom until I could sort this out. Howie was PISSED.
And then I heard the barking.
Poods had come onto the scene and was affronted on Howie's behalf that this man was in his food (seriously, everyone knew you didn't mess with his food!). This was an eff'in disaster! So I threw Howie into the bedroom with a "I'll give you real fish" and ran to grab Poods. Now luckily, Poods was still basically a baby (about 3 mos old) and the guy was pretty much unmoved by his bluster. So I scooped up Poods and went to put him away -- and the doorbell rang.
It was my friend Kim and her Hubby. She took one look at my face and said, "What's wrong?!" I related the story (which her hubby thought was HILARIOUS) and she told me to just put Poods in the bedroom with Howie and she would handle this. (Kim was an EXPERIENCED diplomat.) She went into the kitchen, greeted the doctor and ushered him and the cheese and bread into the living room while her Hubby made me (and everyone else) a stiff drink.
I was sure we had made it...And we almost did.
After dinner, the doctor said, "you really MUST tell me where you got that pate! It was amazing. So moist, but it seemed to have chunks of meat. DELICIOUS!"
Kim spit her wine out on the table.
She pretended she had swallowed wrong, but the atmosphere was quickly disintegrating because she and her husband (and the other couple they naturally told) were trying very hard not to laugh, but were failing miserably.
I was trying very hard not to cry.
"Umm....I got it at the commissary here. It's from the US." He looked down the table at the people laughing and (with a smile thankfully) asked what was so funny.
I told him that they were laughing because Kim choked on her wine and spit it out. A disgusted look crossed his face and he told me that he simply did not understand American humor and could not believe that Americans would laugh at someone's distress like that.
Dude, you have NO IDEA.
The dinner thankfully ended with no international incident. Everyone at that dinner STILL laughs about that. The doctor continued to hint that he would love some of that Pate, and by the time I left Peshawar (two years later), I considered sending the doctor a case of Little Friskies.
I am still amazed that I did not -- because now, I totally would have.
Sometimes? I'm Judgmental. Also, Seattle!
13 hours ago