Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Another MLA Story

I think the very first blog I posted here was my story about "Shoe-Love" from the Modern Language Association (MLA) annual conference in Chicago a couple of years ago. This year, when I went to the MLA, I wasn't expecting to have any blog-worthy experiences, but that just goes to show what I know.

Anyway, the MLA is a typical (even stereotypical) literature conference, but one where I kind of like to go, because there's always a good crowd of Anglo-Saxonist regulars. I went, gave my paper, ran into a few folks from WVU, and ran into more folks who knew WVU folks, so it was also a reminder that the academic world is a small one. Had a long discussion about the importance and significance of books in Anglo-Saxon studies with an old friend: neither of us seemed too worried that we hadn't actually read the books we were debating about. Somehow, I'm not too happy about that, in retrospect.

Ran into an old graduate school friend, Stacy, who's always fun to see, and we set up a plan to go out to dinner after my paper (which was at a 7:15 session). Gave my paper (about a new interpretation of three runes, believe it or not), and got some positive responses to it. Anyway, after things wound down, Stacy and I and the chair of the panel ended up looking for a place to get a moderately priced late dinner, and we asked the concierge at the conference hotel to help us out.

After a few moments of mystic consultation with his computer, he told us he could just fit us in at a table for three at a seafood/Italian restaurant a few blocks away at 9:30 (25 minutes later). He printed out an online menu for us, he gave us some walking directions, and we left the hotel feeling lucky he had found us a place--since with thousands of academics milling around, many restaurants were filled up. But when we got to the restaurant, it was practically empty, and Stacy and Shari both expressed some uncertainty. But I said, "Hey, it's Monday evening, between Christmas and New Years--no big deal if it's not full. Let's try it."

So we went in, and the waiter asked if we were "three for dinner" and we said yeah, and he didn't seem to care if we had a reservation or not; we all thought the concierge had been kind of a jerk for implying that our table for three was like the last table available in the place. So anyway, we sat there, ordered some drinks, and the waiter ran through a whole list of specials, etc.

And while he was talking, I saw something moving around on the floor out of the corner of my eye. I looked closer, and sure enough it was a little grey mouse, scurrying around here and there. As soon as the waiter stepped away, I mentioned it to the other two (whose backs were turned to the mouse area) and we all decided it was time to leave: empty restaurant, mouse running around--two strikes was all we needed.

So we left and went to the Irish Pub, where there was a small crowd, the food was fine, and--at the end of the evening--the owner's cat wandered by our table: no mice in there, I think.

We debated going back to the hotel to give the concierge a piece of our minds, but ultimately decided against it.

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