Everyone loves a good roast, right? Yes, with one sometime exception: the roastee. Which is why I’m a little worried that I haven’t heard from Vincent since sending out my Year-in-Review letter to friends and family. I typically rip hard on someone annually, and Vincent was my 2012 victim: I basically inferred (multiple times) that he was simple-minded and downright slow.

“Ummmm, did you get my letter?” I email him.

Vincent replies that yes, he’s just been too busy to respond, and he happens to have two seats to this year’s Gridiron Club Dinner and would I like one of them? Which just goes to show you making fun of people pays-off.

“Hell, yes!”

I look-up the Gridiron Club Dinner online: I’m pretty sure I know what it is but I’m not entirely convinced.


According to Wikipedia, the Gridiron Club and Foundation is the oldest and one of the most prestigious journalistic organizations in Washington, D.C. It is best-known for its annual dinner, a white tie affair that features satirical and self-deprecating member skits and witty remarks by the president (he shows some years, but not all) and representatives of each political party (ironically, a sort of roast).

I’ve never been to a white tie affair, let alone a white tie affair also attended by Barack and Michelle Obama. I’m thrilled.


There is one catch: the dinner is scheduled for March 9 — the same night as my department’s most important customer event at the biggest industry conference of the year. I dial-in  to my bi-monthly call with my manager from a rented Yaris in a cold parking garage of a hospital in Madison, Wisconsin (my meeting has just finished, and cell-phone service in the building is non-existent). I nervously tell him of my opportunity, promising to never take maternity leave if he gives me this one weekend off. I don’t think my request was unreasonable — I work plenty of nights and weekends and I rarely ask for anything — but my boss is pretty unpredictable (or I am pretty bad at predicting him). And… he tells me to go and have a great time. Sincerely.

Let’s do this thing!


I Google white tie affair dress.

For women, a white tie affair is the time to pull out all the stops and be as glamorous and sparkling as you can be. Beaded gowns and intricately coiffed hairstyles with your very best jewelry are all called for.

I have no beaded gowns — in fact I don’t own A gown — but I am the proud owner of a pair of to-die-for Giuseppe Zanotti heels that I bought three years ago. I was unemployed at the time so the guilt nearly killed me but I knew that some day I’d need these babies and never be able to find them again.

Giuseppi Zanotti Black Heels

Now for the gown. First stop: Nicole Miller on North Wells Street. And there it was: the black on black dress (with the addition of shoulder straps) from the iconic Grace Kelly L’Instant Taittinger poster. In my size. Sure, it needs hemming and the benefit of some serious boob padding, but I brought it in to Ms. Couture this week and they’ve assured me it won’t be a problem.

Taittinger L'Instant Poster

Spanx? Got ‘em. Purse? I bought a black satin clutch trimmed in fuschia at a Jim Thompson store in Bangkok back in 2008 so all I need now is some bling: my standard industrial steel and silver is not going to cut it. It’s time for a trek to LuLu’s at the Belle Kay. The glamorous proprietress, Laurie, is notorious for either embracing you (out comes the champagne) or rejecting you (“we don’t carry your size, dear”) the instant you step inside, but she’s not here today. It’s just her saleswoman and me and we debate for an hour over the perfect piece(s). I indulge in a gorgeous, art deco bracelet but resist the earrings she recommends. I don’t love them enough to be able to justify them.

I head south to Vintage Underground. Damn! Glass cabinet after glass cabinet stuffed with vintage rhinestore jewelry. But one pair stands out, and now they’re mine.

Vintage art deco rhinestone jewelry

I am so ready to do this white tie event! And explore Washington, D.C. . I’ve been watching Homeland every night for the past month and that spy museum is calling out to me.

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