News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

October 18, 2009

The Off Season: Improving a social grade: Mr. Lunsford goes to town

I have no problem in admitting that I am not the most urbane man you will ever meet. I have only basic knowledge of the social proprieties, often fail to have my shoes polished, and have a hard time getting the part in my hair to come out straight. There’s no doubt that I prefer faded cotton to Armani any day.

But when I was asked to attend a conference at a swanky hotel in Cincinnati a week ago, I took it as an opportunity to improve my social graces a bit while getting away from my cornfields and deer-dodging and country living for a few days. I reasoned that the experience certainly couldn’t hurt me.

So, I packed a sport coat and a few pairs of socks, grabbed a good book for the quiet times when TV noise was not an appealing option, pushed my wife into the family wagon to help keep me out of trouble, and headed off to the land of complimentary soap and wake-up calls. We had, for the most part, a very good time.

It’s not that we were going to a snob convention; everyone we met there was gracious and kind and a bit travel weary, some coming to town from as far away as Arizona and Montana. Virtually all were educators, and we spent a good deal of time commiserating on the state of schools and the assaults on them that seem so popular these days. I left with a few ideas for my classroom, the names of several newfound friends, and with the satisfaction in knowing that I hadn’t dribbled coffee on my favorite blue tie or eaten peas off the blade of my knife.

As I said, I’m not exactly David Niven, but my wife and I together aren’t Ma and Pa Kettle, either.

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