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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Friday, December 8, 2023

I’m ready to be inducted into the Illuminati. I mean… the Hillsboro Whiskey Society. Our Welcome dinner happens tonight, and I have no idea what to expect. There has been a running joke about what could be considered a red flag. Drinking out of a bejeweled chalice, being blindfolded, seeing a sacrificial altar anywhere…

Though to be fair, give me enough bourbon and I’m game for just about anything.

I haven’t thought much about what to expect. There is a big blank space in my brain where a dinner will be.

Of course, I know what dinner is. I even know what the distillery looks like. So I’m not jumping out of an airplane. But there is a four hour time slot to fill and I can’t imagine what will be inserted there. More importantly, as I sit here in anticipation, I don’t want to imagine.

I don’t want to imagine, because I don’t want to fill it with expectations and suppositions. I don’t want to turn it into something it isn’t and then compare it to my imaginary dinner later. I don’t want an agenda, nor to invent one. I don’t want a schedule, nor to follow one. I want to go into it wholly unknowing.

I love bourbon. I love the distillery. I love food. These things are not in question, so I’m already primed for a good time. But most of the fun for me right now is in the not knowing.

As I sit here a few hours away from the unveiling, I am enjoying immensely the feeling of having no idea what to expect.

So much of life requires planning-figuring-thinking, and if not knowing what to expect, at least anticipating it. My entire career is set up around it. It’s what I do every day, for the next hour, for the next day, for the week and month and quarter.

Even “fun” comes with a fair amount of it. The dinner reservation, the parking spot, the play schedule, the drive time. So being able to just… show up. And let someone else do the planning-figuring-thinking is really quite delightful.

I was percolating on a word for this and I don’t think there is one. It’s not about being surprised. That’s too birthday-party-ish. It’s not even quite unexpected, though that is closer. I know it’s a dinner, after all. Somewhere in there is a word that means a thing that is neither expected nor unexpected but exists as an unknown entity full of possibility.

Someone invent that word and I’ll pour you a drink.

As I was percolating on this whole idea, a book arrived from my Secret Santa. I’ve been waiting for it all week, looking forward to seeing what book I’d get, and what chocolate would accompany it. Those are the rules – you send a book and some chocolate. And this book club is worthy of the task. They do not disappoint.

As I opened the package I had that same sense of not knowing what to expect, just waiting for the mystery to be revealed. I had never heard of the book, but it was a pretty cover, and just one more part of the mystery. What will it be about? What story is in between those covers?

I opened the box of chocolate and discovered six beautifully artful truffles. So unexpected!

The thing I’m trying to get to, poorly, is not that I had no idea what to expect. It’s just that… it wasn’t that. And that was the best part.

Will the dinner be good? Will the book be good? It hardly matters because that is not the point. If they’re fantastic, I’ll have a story to tell. If they’re terrible, I’ll have a story to tell. And somehow, either way, finding out will be most of the fun.

Photo: almost too pretty to eat. Almost.