November 10, 2011: Receive offical word that the theme for the Gala is "Casino Night" and the dress code is "cocktail." We are encouraged to wear red, black, or white.
November 14: Go dress shopping and find the dress!
December 3- 5:45pm; Start getting ready for the Gala.
6:45pm: Babysitter arrives.
6:46pm: Quick picture at home- without my shoes on.
7:20pm: Pick up a coworker, Z, who's in Panama for the next week.
7:30pm: Arrive at party too early by Panamanian standards, but we're still Americans. (This will become the unofficial theme of the party.)
8:00pm: Party is supposed to start.
8:05pm: Still sitting at table with just Tony and Z.
8:45pm: Find my friend who I took dress shopping. She looks fabulous.
9:00pm: Gala offically begins with a safety briefing. (Yes, that's the reaction I had, too.)
9:15pm: Tony begins his presentation of company highlights from 2011.
9:17pm: Z and I make plans on how to pull Tony away from the podium.
9:30pm: Tony finishes his presentation. He did a fine job, but the amount of technical information to be shared made it hard for people to follow.
9:50pm: Pre-dinner agenda is finished. Time to eat.
9:51pm: My American self wants to know why individual tables aren't dismissed to the buffet line. I'm assured this is the way it is done in Panama. Decide to mingle instead of standing in line.
10:00pm: Go through the buffet line. Ask several times, "Is there cheese is this?"
10:01pm: Come to the ceviche. Feel conflicted. I really want to try it, but I still have nightmares of my sushi attempt gone very wrong.
10:02pm: Add ceviche to my plate and have a seat at the table with Tony's coworkers.
Z, E, S, and H!
Katina, Galo, J, L, and M!
me, Tony, and Andrea
10:04pm: I am convinced to try the ceviche. LOVE it!
10:08pm: Go get more ceviche.
10:45pm: Dinner is complete and the talent show begins. A band made up of company employees sings 2 songs. They did a really good job.
11:00pm: Goofy MC starts goofy portion of the evening with goofy skits. He's pulling people out of the audience and has them act out a few scenarios. I'm thankful I'm not selected because the Spanish is too mumbly on the microphone for me to follow.
11:15pm: MC announces the next fun activity: dance contest.
11:16pm: Tony's coworker, Galo, tries to avoid being randomly selected. He and his wife are chosen. We all laugh and clap.
11:18pm: Andrea starts all but jumping up and down to volunteer Tony and me to be the other couple in the dance off.
11:19pm: Tony and I are selected to participate. It's a good thing Andrea's an intern.
11:20pm: We walk up to Galo and Katina. Galo asks me why the guy would pick accountants to participate in a dance contest.
11:21pm: I'm so relieved that Mr. Goofy MC picked the only Panamanian couple that can't dance. At least Tony and I aren't the only people in the room who can't.
11:22pm: Galo and Katina dance first. Katina is all in, but Galo is less committed. It would be hysterical if I weren't absolutely terrified to take our turn.
11:25pm: Our turn. I point blank tell the guy I won't do it. He tells me to pick someone else from the audience. Tony's team starts chanting his name. Tony takes the microphone and announces that we're dancing. Too bad Tony isn't an intern.
**Quick aside. For those who don't know, Tony is the son of a fundamental Baptist preacher, is an accountant, and is not of Latin descent. I am horribly afraid of looking silly in front of people and have limited rhythm. That is the mental picture for the upcoming dance sequence.**
11:26pm: The most embarrassing moments of my adult life begin. While we were watching the other couple dance, I had some dance thoughts, but once we got out there, I forgot everything I might have done. And, thanks to Andrea, we have this captured on film. (Praise God, I left the video camera at home!)
**UPDATE- We are now aware that there is cellphone footage of the dance contest. I'll let you know just as soon as Tony gives me permission to post it.**
11:29pm: We've completed the Dance-Off.
11:30pm: Mr. Goofy MC guy has both couples come to the center of the floor. The audience claps to determine the winner (or truly the biggest loser) of the evening.
11:31pm: We won! (or lost!) We did receive a store gift certifcate and a certficate for lunch at one of the nice hotels.
11:32pm: We sit down. I'm shaking, but laughing. Yes, we can't dance. Yes, the entire company now knows it, but I can tell my kids that we did it. And that there is life after embarrassment. Sometimes the greatest skill in life is the ability to laugh at yourself.
12:05am: We leave the party as the real dancing begins. We both would like to stay longer, but we have a babysitter to return home and church in just a few hours.
1:15am: Tony returns from taking the sitter. The shock of making a fool out of himself in front of work people is beginning to hit. He doesn't want to talk about it.
1:30am: We collapse into bed. It's been a much different gala than we anticipated, but we are so thankful we went and had such a great time.