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Though I return from nearly every Society for Neuroscience meeting with at least one hilarious story, this year marks the 10th anniversary of what's probably my favorite hilarious story. I'm going to share it with you, not just for entertainment, but for education as well--no matter how giant your meeting is, chances are you're going to bump into people more than once.
In 2000, the SfN Annual Meeting was held in New Orleans. If you've never been to New Orleans you really should try and get there, because it is awesome. The food is amazing, the architecture is incredible, and the history is pretty fascinating. I appreciate these things now, but as a brand new grad student my primary concerns leaned more toward the fact that in certain areas, you were allowed to walk around in the street with a beer in your hand.
Naturally, then, my grad school BFF and I headed straight for Bourbon Street upon arrival. Now, grad BFF and I always had a special knack for getting ourselves into hilarious situations--we were unofficially dubbed the "clown prince and princess" of the department by one of our administrators--but throw revoked open container laws into the mix, and it's pretty much inevitable.
Bourbon Street is lined with 2- and 3-story buildings, almost all of which have a 2nd floor balcony that spans the entire street-facing side. How these balconies are used is very interesting: male bar-goers stand at the balcony rail, clutching strings of shiny beads in one hand and a 30-oz beer in the other. They call down to women in the street, offering a strand of beads in exchange for a favorable response to their (now classic) request, "Show us your t*#$!"
Normally the balcony dudes aren't that picky--any old flip of the top will usually garner reward. Sometimes, however, an unassuming lady gets singled out. Grad BFF and I were strolling innocently along, sipping our 30-oz beers and taking in the madness, when we heard the calls, which included a description of my attire. We stopped and looked around. Are they talking to me? I wondered aloud. Grad BFF confirmed that they were, and we had a chuckle as I shook my head and bashfully declined. But they persisted, and soon a group of guys on the street noticed the commotion, and came over to us.
Surprisingly, they turned to Grad BFF. "Dude," they said, "you know her--convince her to do it!" Though we were impressed at their earnest appeal to the bonds of brotherhood, Grad BFF--ever the champion of chivalry--politely refused. We were about to turn and make a hasty escape when one last entreaty was made, this time by an older gentleman:
"I could hold your drink," he offered, "if you need both hands."
Um, thanks but no thanks, Creepy Old Dude Hanging Out By Himself on Bourbon Street! Grad BFF and I quickly extracted ourselves and went on to enjoy the rest of our evening, blessedly harassment-free. But the story is not over!
The next day, I went to the convention center. I was standing in line to pick up my badge, when who do I notice not five people in front of me, but I-could-hold-your-drink dude! 100% positive. My jaw dropped, my eyes bugged out of my head, and I kept it together just long enough to get my badge before I ran shrieking to Grad BFF, "Oh my freaking god, he's like a PI or something...ewwwwwww!!!!!"
The lesson here should be obvious, folks. Even at a meeting of 30,000, never assume any encounter is your last with that person. And sincerely, do try to maintain an iota of professional decorum when out on the town, mkay? Don't be I-could-hold-your-drink dude.
See you in San Diego!
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Hey, even outside of New Orleans this happens. I was walking down the street in San Diego (last San Diego conference) when I got a whistle and a "ncie legs" from some gross old dude across the street. He was wearing his SfN badge too, so you can imagine my dismay when he showed up to my poster the next day. Though probably he didn't remember, I certainly did. Think it's the same guy?!?!
Also PIs making out with grad students in doorways of bars just outside the coference HQ, bad idea. Fortunately, I did not see this, and it was no one I knew.
"I could hold your drink," he offered, "if you need both hands."'
Fucking genuine LOLz. I think he and I read the same books on chivalry!
Having a liaison with a (female) PI from a Midwestern university one afternoon and then managing to bump into her once or twice EVERY day of the conference, including out and about in the eveingas. That would be embarrassing too. So I'm told.
I thought the lesson was once you turn a certain age you need a younger and better looking wingman.
I don't understand why you guys are so surprised here – if you take 30,000 neuroscientists you are likely to find as many lecherous dudes as if you take any random 30,000 people. Why is it any more significant or surprising that these guys were "PI"s? Would it make a difference if they were just some random dude on the street?
Namnezia> I'm not surprised, but the moment when you see that "sleezy guy from last night's comment" in front of you being the "VIP invited speaker" it feels a bit..... sleezy? ^^ and at least I felt a bit like being reduced to boobs for just a second [when I met the first drunk prof the day after at a conferece]. Although, after a second I realised that he didn't remember my face anyway (not sure this was better?) and talked science..
That said, I think I've lost much of my naivite when it comes to "sleezy" or "cheating" after a few years in Academia and at conferences. Researchers are just people... although some have even less people skills but the alcohol removes lots of inhibitions for sure. I wonder what if a reality series or a "drama series" would be deemed too fantasy but there are some stories out there ;)
I'm with Chall. I'm not surprised by such behavior anymore, but it doesn't make it any less sleazey or more acceptable.
hahahahaha, I can't wait to see what hilarious story you come home with from San Diego. I am here as well attending SfN (and blogging about it (www.daniorerio.com), unofficially ). I have a knack for hilarious situations myself... so glad to know I am not the only one.