I’m attending my first Renaissance Weekend in Charleston, SC. The New Year’s program is the largest — there are 500 parallel panels, seminars, discussions and events, and over 800 people here (many with families).
I don’t know who nominated me for this. I simply got an invitation in the mail saying I had been approved by the Board and invited to attend any future sessions. Let me simply say that if you ever get invited, you probably want to attend. (It is pricey, however.)
Under the ground rules of the event, I am not allowed to mention names of attendees without prior, explicit approval. However, I can say that so far, I have either been in small group meetings with or talked directly to people who have won Emmys, Oscars, MacArthur Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and Peabody Awards (the Turing Award winners aren’t here this time, and I have yet to meet any of the Nobel Prize or Grammy winners). Titles of some of the others I have met include current or former: General (head of a Unified Command), College President, Rt. Reverend, Imam, Senator, Representative, heads of Federal agencies (on the order of NIH, DARPA, GAO, NSF), Ambassador, Judge, Governor, cabinet undersecretary, White House Fellow, producer, editor, novelist. I have spoken with founders of million dollar companies, inventors, heads of major non-profit organizations, editors of major news media, TV and movie personalities, and more. And sprinkled in are younger entrepreneurs, grad students, activists, lawyers, professors, doctors, and…. This has all been in only the first 2 days! (The program runs 7:30am until 10:30 pm every day, and until 2am on New Year’s Eve).
I am suffering a case of Imposter Syndrome! However, I may be the only bow tie-wearing alien here. 🙂
This evening, we were supposed to have dinner on our own. I was invited to accompany 3 lovely ladies and a wonderful gentleman (his family joined us later) to a great local restaurant. (NB: my personal record so far was at RSA where I was the only male at dinner with 14 women, but at that one I was made an “honorary woman” so it isn’t quite the same.) We had a delightful meal, discussing a range of topics from philosophy to choreography to law to elections to novel writing to third-world issues to sex roles to espionage to marksmanship…and terrible things I do to my students. 🙂
As we were leaving, one of the lovely ladies pronounced me as “Really something.” I allowed that many people said that, but none of them had quite figured out what. She then informed those around that I was “Delightful” and “Obviously knew how to treat a lady.” I asked her if I could quote her on that. She readily assented. Thus, I can name her:
I have been officially anointed as “Delightful” by Dr. Ruth Westheimer. She says that is her professional opinion. (Ladies, take note :-).
The other women present — a well-known attorney, and a TV political analyst/commentator — were also wonderful dinner companions, as was the gentleman who very kindly paid for my dinner and his family. However, I didn’t ask them for permission to use their names.
Did I mention what an unusual group this is? As a polymath, this is great fun. Assuming I don’t collapse from too little sleep.