Of course this was all I had ever wanted in my whole entire life ever, to be invited to the Library Journal Movers & Shakers luncheon. Free lunch: my favorite thing. With drinks: what are you serious. Effortful: how are they going to try to be amazing. Alas, the venue couldn’t handle us all, it was dark and loud and hot, and the last thing I wanted in 104 degree heat was a bowl of macaroni and cheese. Where was the salad? They tried to make us take copies of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, but I do not believe in any of that. But still. I had a name tag, and I got to see L. and meet W. and shake hands with lots of people. And it was free and special and I will totally go next year.

A. got a gift card for the Torch Club when she got hired at NYU and surprise surprise hadn’t yet spent her cash on this high-end Aramark emporium so K. and I joined her for what turned out to be a sort of small and sad buffet but the company was good and so was the butter. Really good butter. We closed out the place, everything was wrapped up by the time we got up from the table and walked back out into the rain.

The meeting was held in Brooklyn instead of Middletown and that made it a much more palatable event, not nearly so much driving, just a shuttle train ride and quick walk to S.’s house where we enjoyed D.’s traditional spread along with a couple of soups that S. made. That lentil soup, is it a mandatory recipe for people on the left? I swear I’ve been eating it and it has tasted the same since 1978.

This time, since D. picked me up at the New Haven train station, I got to see how the buffet lunch for each meeting makes its way to the table. D. had everything packed in a reusable bag. We pulled a table around from the seminar room and stuck it in front of the door. We unloaded everything onto dishes and plates. Do you care how I do this? I asked. D. responded I don’t have a master plan. There was room enough for everything, even the square of pate, and I made up my plate as the others arrived.

D. brought his usual spread, laid out on a table at the Wasch Center for Retired Faculty. By the time we got there from Brooklyn I was so hungry, filled my plate and then again, my favorite was the olive spread, totally made the sandwich.

Like K. said, it was as if somebody went to Whole Foods and bought just the right amount of bread and cheese and jam and olives and wrapped it all up and put it in a bag for two people to eat on a picnic table on the last Saturday of Governor’s Island 2012. O. put his hand right into the goat cheese log. I wanted to murder him, but I didn’t.

D. laid out his standard spread, and M. and I got first crack at it along with P., the first cars to pull up to the Wasch Center. Everybody else rolled in after us, the other Brooklyn car of J., S., and S. last and latest, S. brought pickled beets and pasta salad but I was already full.

I grazed like a goat upon the refreshments for two meetings, the first took a truly absurd turn and as I ate my crackers I asked myself Is this really happening? Is it? Is it happening? The second meeting supplied a dose of cookies and an almost soothing repetition of what I hear in that meeting each year. Did you know there are three legs on the tenure stool, and that they should each reach the ground? It’s true.

If you’d told me that night ten years ago when I was balled up and weeping and waiting that fast-forward I’d be toasting F. on his wedding to K. over beet salad and lemon cake, if you’d told me. There’s something to be said for hanging on and waiting.

I stood in the corner with my plate of food while B. and J. unwrapped presents. Overwhelmed. Every time I looked at you you looked like a deer in the headlights said S. Crowds. I wondered what theorist of the recent past or present would have the most to say about this odd cultural ritual, the baby shower. A profusion of gifts for an absent guest. Bataille, I’m thinking. The bacon was amazing. I asked P. what made it so amazing. It’s bacon.