red, white, and blue
Of the many Embassy events that take place each year, the biggest and most important one is the 4th of July party. The anniversary of our nation’s independence provides a unique opportunity to invite high-ranking local counterparts, members of the diplomatic community, and other VIPs to showcase our culture and saturate our guests in Americana. If you think that this joyous occasion is all about fun, however, please permit us to disabuse you of this notion. The 4th of July party is a working event – one whose planning and coordination causes a prolonged Embassy-wide headache that intensifies as the event draws near. Because of local scheduling conflicts, few embassies actually hold the event on the 4th itself, and this year’s celebration fell on June 30th.
Just to further underscore that the 4th of July party is actually nothing of the sort, spouses were not invited. Even so, S had her heart set on going and figured that there must be a way around this minor impediment. Unlike previous years, when the event was catered, this year the new Ambo decided to rely on the volunteer spirit of Embassy staff for food preparation. So while a few of the FSOs grumbled about getting volunteered to flip burgers, S was happy to don an apron and spend the afternoon at the pulled pork station with a beer in hand.
Meanwhile, D supervised the pushers. No, he wasn’t in charge of surreptitiously slipping opiates to the guests. At a reception as big as this one, teams of pushers and pullers are indispensable. The former greet guests as they arrive and escort them to the receiving line, where they shake hands with the Ambo. The latter quickly latch on to the guests as soon as they are done with their greeting and escort them to the refreshments so that the line keeps moving. After about an hour, the majority of the guests had arrived and the receiving line disbanded. The official ceremony lasted less than 15 minutes, but guests hung around for another couple of hours, so D spent the rest of the party working the crowd, introducing himself to perfect strangers and collecting business cards.
Knowing that he’d be meeting a lot of guests and wanting to project a healthy dose of patriotic spirit, D decided to wear the most red-white-and-blue tie he owned (See: breakfast with the boss). Ambo wasn’t kidding when he said he owned the same tie, but he had just worn it the previous week so D thought there would be no way he would wear the same tie two weeks in a row. Wrong! Ambo decided that it was the most patriotic tie he owned as well. There are situations where this might have caused an embarrassment, but Ambo was in great spirits at the reception and was quite pleased, beaming, “Look! We’re twins!” to several guests.