The Park City Paradox
Every August Jason and I head up to Park City for my chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists’ annual seminar and golf outing. This event takes place at the Hotel Park City and we usually stay in one of their cottage suites while I attend. (We get a great deal so why not.) The cottage suites are definitely snooty with private Jacuzzis, patios, 3 fireplaces, and so forth and so on. Naturally you’d think that my snobbish slumber in their enormous beds, some or the most comfortable beds I’ve ever laid in, would be peaceful and perfect but no, that’s not how my night’s rest at this thing ever goes and therein lies my single grievance about our yearly Park City excursion. This event would almost feel like a retreat if it weren’t for the cruel scheduling. I have a great time but I come home feeling like a zombie in a golf skirt. Allow me to run through the proceedings at this function and explain while I complain.
The first bit of this outing is all about education through presentations. Yippee! Those who know me understand that I am hopelessly curious. I’m happy listening to lectures for hours while furiously scribbling notes so I was predictably engaged by this year’s talks. After a full afternoon of learning about preservatives and how to make nasty sunscreens taste sublime, our entire 50+ group headed downstairs to Ruth’s Chris for an excellent dinner. Jason decided to join us for this meal. He has always been hesitant to come to supper with this crowd even though he’s continually invited and the food at Ruth’s Chris is delicious. I think my particular brand of geek intimidates him a tad because the only circuits we care about are those generated by our evaporimeters but this year either he manned up or the thought of tasty food got the better of him. It turns out he was right to be wary of these chemists though. Our table had a 20 minute discussion about the fragrances used in Fabreze that forced Jason into the realm of cosmetic nerdery at a head-spinning pace. However, a tender fillet and big blob of mashed potatoes seemed to reduce the shock of it all on his system. Our feast wasn’t over until about 8:30 but that still left me and Jason ample time to pull out our books and relax for a few hours, something we are too occupied to do often at home.
This all sounds like a rough experience, right? Lots of excellent food and unwinding with a good read in a fancy hotel room. We scientists have a tough life that is for certain. While this may sound like the lap of luxury, let me assure you that luxury knows no alarm clock. The golfing on the second day of our meeting starts absurdly early and that’s what always gets me. I’m up in Park City. I’m staying in a super nice room with a bed that’s feathery and soft but I never sleep well because I know I have to get up at 5:00 AM or thereabouts. The ease of it all is kind of lost when you wake up in the middle of the night and realize you have to be up for real in an hour.
Despite my grumblings about its timing, the golfing is surprisingly enjoyable every year. I am a pretty horrendous golfer, make no mistake, but I don’t take myself too seriously so I can still enjoy that which I suck at. The lessons I took last summer and the couple visits Jason and I have made to the driving range this year have definitely helped me play less awfully. I know how to stand correctly now and grip my clubs but I am still a beginner with a capital B. Regardless, I always have fun with whatever team I am placed on and occasionally my shots do end up being useful.
The SCC summer outing in Park City is a strange mix of recreation, learning, leisure, and exhaustion. Instead of being cooped up in the office I get to practice my swing in the sweet sunshine but I don’t get to enjoy my fluffy bed like I would on a real break. It’s being on the brink of a vacation without actually getting all the perks of one that’s the killer. Sometime I’d like to stay at the Hotel Park City when I don’t have to rise before the sun’s even thinking about it. Until then, you can all keep rolling your eyes at my “hard” life.