Social Capital

I’m at a SoL meeting with about 60 people. About 20 of them are in my consulting convergence group, and we’re meeting as a sub-group frequently throughout the four days. The schedule is fairly grueling for white-collar types, mostly 8 AM to 8 or 9 PM every day.
Tonight was the ‘open’ night, where we can have unscheduled dinner with friends and colleagues. I was exhausted, and was the first one on the 5:45 bus to the hotel. Next to me sat Joanne and Karen, and on the way to the hotel in talking about dinner options I said, “I’m exhausted. I want to walk to the Olive Garden, eat with one or two people, or alone, and do it soon so I can get some sleep.” They thought that was a decent idea, and after a 15 minute wash-up we walked over there and broke bread.
We had a lot of good conversation, and when I said George Bush was a war criminal we found out that Karen strongly disagreed—he is a man of faith who believes in democracy and freedom; gag me—but we were able to gracefully move on without too much politics or hard feelings. They were intrigued with my online dating story, and essentially outed the whole marriage story, the public parts anyway, and we had a very open and honest conversation about intimacy and relationships.
On our way out we ran into a table with 12 of our colleagues, and we stopped over to say hello. M.S. briefly surveyed the situation, called me over, pushed his chair out, and pulled me close. He whispered: “Notio, can you tell me how it is that you ended up with the two best-looking women in the entire conference, alone, for dinner?” I said, “I have no idea; it just happened.” He replied, “More power to you.”
Then I.W. called me over to the end of the table. She and I have had a kind of rocky relationship, because she’s been around since the early days of SoL, and her 68 years of Croatian wisdom sometimes annoy my modern sensibilities. But she leaned over to me and said, “Notio, you are very lucky to have your supper with those two women. That is really quite something. Do you that that [x] used to be an actress?” No, I didn’t know that. She looked me in the eye, “Well—you enjoy yourself.” That whole end of the table was grinning and staring and generally letting their imaginations run wild to my great benefit. We three soon said our goodbyes, and walked back to the hotel, and each went to our respective rooms.
But the unintended social capital of that five minutes saying hello to colleagues will last the rest of the conference, without doubt. Tomorrow night is the party at the Model T museum, and I can already hear it now….