It’s just gone past midday. In the Barron Room of the Las Vegas Hilton, hundreds have gathered for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) television luncheon. It’s a gathering the major television executives from across America and I am honoured and overawed to be seated in their midst. Sitting right next to me is my friend and colleague, Efia Pokuaa of Adom FM. We are seated at a table with four others – all of them Americans. One man is jabbering endlessly about the financial crisis and how it has impacted his work and his bottom-line. But I am not interested in any of that. I am hungry.
Earlier in the morning, Israel Laryea (another colleague from Joy FM), Efia and I ate in a hurry at the crowded McDonald’s joint in the Excalibur before proceeding to the Las Vegas Hilton. We are attending a series of seminars organised by the Radio and Television News Directors Association as part of the annual exhibitions and conferences of NAB. By lunch time, I was famished. And so was Efia. Israel was still locked up in a session on video journalism. As Efia and I sat down for the luncheon, we were hoping that Israel will show up before the doors are closed.
When we got the signal to start eating, Israel was nowhere in sight. But, I stopped think about him (each one for himself, right?) and I reached for my plate with gusto. Efia did no less. Before us was a certain salad, whose name I’ve forgotten. Sorry! What I know, however, is that I will never buy that sort of meal with my hard-earned cash but since I was so hungry I chewed the leaves like a goat. Just when we were done with the salads, the programme started.
The MC, Tracee Ellis Ross, one of the lead actors in the TV sitcom ‘Girlfriends’, strutted onto the beautifully-designed stage, wearing an exquisite red sleeveless dress. One of the first things she said was to emphasise that a strap on her upper right arm was not from her bra.
“It is the microphone,” she said to laughter from the crowd.
By now, Efia and I had finished chewing our salad leaves. Efia reached for the cinnamon cake before her and I followed her lead.
Suddenly, I could feel that those sitting with us at the table were staring at us rather strangely. Even the talkative guy had shut his mouth. I saw one lady trying very hard to read the badge I was wearing. All this while, speeches were being delivered and my stomach was gradually being filled. I couldn’t be happier.
The show was going very well.
So it came to me as a big surprise when the MC announced that a break was coming up.
I turned to Efia and asked, “For what?”
“So that you can enjoy your lunch,” the MC said from the stage.
At this stage, I was halfway through my cake and Efia had almost finished hers.
“What lunch again,” I turned and asked her.
“I think there is more coming,” she said, pointing to a long line of waiters approaching from one of the main entrances, smartly dressed in black with trays on their shoulders.
It was then that it struck me!
“Oh my God,” I said. “We have eaten the dessert before the main dish.”
We both quickly scanned the room and realised that we were the only ones who had devoured our cakes. Then we started giggling like kids. Our ‘friends’ at the table looked at us bemused but said nothing.
“Let’s tell them we are from far away, that’s why,” I told Efia. And we laughed even more as the waiters came to the table with our plates of rice and chicken.
I also can’t remember the name of the main dish. All I know is that it was rice and chicken with some leaves which looked like ‘kontomire’. Efia and I decided to eat as quickly as possible and go back to what was left of our cake slices. The food was not exactly delicious for our ‘ekurase’ tongues so we ate what we could, pushed aside the plates and reached for what was left on our cake slices – equality had been restored and we could now even see some of the others at the table eating their cakes. And we laughed again, picked our bags to leave – the next seminar was just about five minutes away! As we walked out of the door, I resolved never to attend another luncheon on a near-empty stomach.