I don’t know how these things happen… That sounds like a good place for a confession to start, right? If ever I could pull off a portrayal of innocence with the help of the written word, I think I’d have to anchor around that opening phrase. In this case, however, I’m being completely transparent. I honestly don’t know how these things happen.

Last night, while sitting around the table, enjoying dinner at my wife’s company Christmas Party (with her boss sitting directly across from us, mind you), someone to our left, a wonderfully charming female business associate of my wife’s circle of connections, commented about the table centerpiece.

It was the type of comment that you might expect to hear in such a setting. Nothing too detailed. Nothing over the top. Just a passing admiration for the tabletop decor. Small talk, in its truest sense. For me, however, it was a softball that served to engage me in the flow of conversation (something that, in a crowd of people that I don’t really know, is much more difficult to do than you might imagine).

I responded with how I had always appreciated the detail that my wife’s company puts into such tabletop decor each year and added a comment about how cool it was that they gave them away at the end of the party. This was naturally followed by my confession, “we still have the one that we won a couple of years ago, when they did the beach theme decorations.”

If you’ve ever “stepped in it” and gotten that astonished look of, “I can’t believe you actually said that out loud” from your spouse, then we’re on the right page. Kathy, my lovely wife (who looked fantastic at this party, btw) laughed and responded with the proverbial “HONEY???” (more giggles and laughter).

As happens frequently in my world, I wasn’t quite sure what had tickled her funny bone. My bewildered gaze often gives that away without me having to ask her to disclose the magic and this case was no different. After she gathered herself, she explained that the company didn’t give them away each year, but that the party committee chair was just being thoughtful that year, because I was an office party newbie and had commented about how fantastic the centerpieces were. Because I was so taken, she thought it okay if we just take one home with us.

Upon learning that there was no actual give away, I naturally began systematically plotting how we could pull off another centerpiece caper this year. As I said, the tabletop decor was pretty darn spiffy.

Not wanting to leave anyone out that was sitting at the table, I hatched the scheme on the fly as if I was a seasoned pro. I’ll credit my training to the many best-selling authors who are willing to join me on my weekly podcast and spill their creative guts while being subjected to my intense interrogation.

I don’t want to give away all the blue prints, but it involved my wife feigning getting a piece of chicken caught in her throat. While she was choking, and others at the table were offering help, I would snatch the centerpiece from the nearby table as I ran to the parking lot screaming something like, “Hang in there, Honey! I’ll bring the car around…”

Last night, those at the table got a good laugh; we left the party without the centerpiece that I actually wanted, and I learned that the tabletop display you see pictured above may actually be evidence, rather than a string of luck-of-the-draw good fortune. Such is life… as I said, I don’t know how these things happen… Our mug shots from last night are to the left.

Look up the Public Display of Imagination Podcast on iTunes or Spotify at some point on Christmas Eve. We’re holding our first ever PDI Office Party and 10 to 12 authors who have been guests on the show over the past 6 months will be stopping in to talk all things Christmas. Among the questions, “What’s the best thing you’ve ever stolen from an Office Christmas Party?”

Merry Christmas… Happy Holidays… and Cover Your Tracks…

Quick Links to Mark’s Books on Amazon:

Mark D. Combs
Don’t Forget Your Cape
Mark D. Combs
Mark D. Combs


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