I've mentioned Real Gil around here - he's the superhero in my nonfiction life.
But last week, I'm pretty sure he elevated himself to angelic, superhuman proportions, when he willingly shoved me out the door for a weekend retreat at a nearby conference center while he stayed home with The Littles.
Not only did I get a weekend away - that in and of itself would have been ideal.
I got a weekend away, with a group of my sisters in Christ. On a beach. With all of my meals prepared.
And - here's the best part - those women had to listen to me talk all weekend long. Oh yes, 'tis true. (Many of my readers are thinking, "Those women look like superheroes too.")
Could there be a better weekend for an extrovert like me? I'm still reliving my favorite moments.
But there are a few moments I'm still pondering - those inevitable, awkward moments which mark you as a women's retreat attendee.
So, here is my official top ten list: Awkward Moments at a Church Women's Retreat
10. The moment when the speaker strays from her notes: she gets this gleaming sparkle of unplanned, unprepared inspiration and suddenly, the entire audience is wishing their chairs had seat belts. Because surely, in that moment of complete vulnerability while standing in front of a room full of women is a better time to vocalize new ideas than in all of those endless hours of peaceful preparation. Surely, right then, when nerves and pride are waging war with normal digestive processes, surely that moment is a better time to do one last edit, to weave Crayola-colored rabbit trails all over that perfectly aligned outline. Yup. Awkward. (I don't know why this is in third person, except I might not be ready to admit my own awkwardness...)
9. Any moment when women come to the weekend speaker with permission to speak freely, often prefacing their words with gentle pleads that this loose cannon will not say anything about them from the podium. (Not unrelated to Number Ten). One dear friend even came to me to tell me that I had a tag sticking out of my blouse, and that I should cut that out, "but don't tell anyone I said to do it." Poor girl, she thought I'd blast her from the podium. Nah, I save that for the blog.
8. The moment when I somehow got mixed into the Grace Community Church Single's Ministry Retreat and was quickly identified as the wolf in sheep's clothing. "I think your group is in that line," one vibrant and well-rested college-age girl gently pointed to the other registration table. Talk about deflated. It was as bad as last week, when I bought wine at a grocery store and did NOT get carded.
7. The moment when one must decide how colorful to make the salad... and how well you know your roommate. I opted out of the black beans.
6. The moment I realized my hotel room guilt. There was a hike up a hill from our lakefront hotel room to Cabin #46. One step onto the sagging front porch had me silently grimacing at their misfortune. Amidst the charm of their woodsy, rustic cabin, there was duct tape holding a window pane together, bats - yes, bats - in the rafters, and one bathroom for eight people. (And I was afraid to eat beans with one roommate.) "Isn't this cute?" one of the cabin inhabitants said. And that was an awkward silence.
5. The moment my friends realized my hotel room guilt. A dear sister needed a quiet place to nap on Saturday afternoon - after a long wait in line for the one shower and a longer wait for sleep to come amidst the flurry of bats overhead - and our room fit the bill. I walked into the room and saw it with fresh eyes. "Oh, Sum. I'm sorry. I'm sorry this is so nice, and yours...isn't." Awkward.
4. The moment when I put my pajamas on and wondered to myself, "Bra or no bra?" What is more important - modesty or a good night's sleep? Two of the funniest women in the world chose that moment to come visit our room. I explained my dilemma to them, and one of them - an older, wiser woman in her early fifties - said, "Well, that's why I am wearing this bathrobe. All those young, strapping single boys with that college-age group." She added with a flourish. "I didn't want to cause any of them to lu-s-sst." Not so much awkward as just downright hilarious.
3. The rare moments when women all over camp resolved to stop talking and go to sleep. For every extrovert, this is awkward. And monumental.
2. The moment, during worship, when I realized everyone behind our front row had sat down and we were still standing, shaking our hips to the music. The only thing more awkward was that glance over my shoulder and the proceeding look of sheer horror at all the women behind me, staring at my Christian booty shake.
1. The moment prior to me approaching the podium to speak, when I was boisterously singing next to my dear friend, Queen K. She leaned over mid-song to carefully ask an awkward question, all for the sake of sparing me further embarrassment: "Is your wireless microphone off?"
Laughter - good for the soul. As was the retreat.