November 10, 2008 at 7:35 am
I ditched my 10 year high school reunion this weekend to hang out with my new boyfriend Larry.
We sowed some oats together this weekend in Chicago. Is it weird that he never took off his hat? (Oat-kay, I might be exaggerating, but he is actually nicknamed Larry by the Quaker Oats staff.)
This weekend I had a fantastic time meeting many lovely and lively health and fitness bloggers at the Quaker Oats Living Proof weekend. But let’s speak the truth here: ultimately this weekend came about because Quaker Oats wants to see what the blogosphere and social media can do for them. It’s about commerce. I know it, you know it, Quaker knows it, and now it’s officially out there. I did not go away for the weekend just because Quaker Oats is nice, though they were definitely nice. I got some free swag, free meals, and a free trip and Quaker got people talking about their products and started some relationships that will be to their advantage in the future.
That being said, just because there’s something in it for both of us doesn’t mean we can’t all have fun fooling around together. Ogilvy (the public relations company for Quaker) did a stand out job arranging the event, keeping it low-pressure and genuinely listening to our suggestions for the weekend. I think they genuinely care about having a good relationship with their customers and I’m glad companies like Quaker are trying to engage us in real conversations. More companies should do that.
So, with the motivations of all those involved kept in mind, let me fill you in on all the silly stuff I did this weekend. I was the first blogger to arrive, which left me plenty of time to do stupid stuff like leap in front of the mirrored wardrobe in my hotel room and snap a picture of myself in mid-air.
Please note the $7.00 bottle of Fiji water in the bottom right corner. I let it sit on my nightstand in favor of using a new invention called “the faucet.” David Bowie was lurking in the bathroom, but he was a gentleman and kept his eyes closed as I did my business.
Even when I turned on all the lights, the room was very dimly lit, but it let me better appreciate the gorgeous view.
The bed was amazingly soft and the wi-fi was free, so by the second night I wanted to move into my hotel room, even if it had a weird imitation snakeskin chair.
There was a meet and greet in the bar that night and then a dinner which included chocolate sushi. The next day we had breakfast at the Quaker Oats headquarters, where they serve free oatmeal to their employees every morning. (I would save dozens of dollars on groceries if I worked for the Quaker Oats corporation.) I truly wish I woke up to a spread like this in my kitchen every morning.
Then we went through a day of, with few exceptions, boring seminars. It was like being in college again, but when I went to college we didn’t have the technology to instant message our friends to make bad oat puns or speaker-related drinking games. Basically, oatmeal is good for your heart. Oat-kay?
I am frightened to even discuss the contr-oat-versy that erupted over whether steel cut oats are better for you than quick oats or rolled oats. And Oat My God, please don’t even talk about it in the comments because I honestly do not give a damn. I eat instant oatmeal in the mornings because I’m a lazy-ass mutha’ and I like a warm, tasty meal I can cook in 99 seconds. No, I’m not going to make a batch of steel cut oats on the weekend and eat it during the week. No, I’m not going to do the other weird thing you’re going to suggest either. Seriously, don’t even start! Stop it! STOP IT!!
Um, I have obviously been blogging too long. I am now getting into flame wars with myself.
We also saw a cooking demonstration by the winner of season four of Top Chef, which would have impressed me more if I had cable. Instead, she seemed as famous to me as we must have seemed to her. Then we were off to another dinner I would never have been able to afford otherwise, a bar meetup, and then a brunch meetup the next day where I got to meet a lot of lovely readers. Thank you for coming out, especially to the one reader who tasked her spouse to brave the Chicago cold to buy a copy of my book.
I ate more oats this weekend than I have ever eaten before in my life. I am going to be really regular this week and my heart will never be healthier. I also stuffed as much oatmeal into my bag as possible, but stopped short of stuffing my panties with packets of sweet roasted pecan because I didn’t want nuts in my butt crack. I do not apologize. There is a recession on and I need all the free food I can get if I don’t survive the company layoffs next month.
But far better than the free swag was meeting everyone who attended, from those bloggers I’ve read for ages to those I just met. Sweet, sappy, but true. It truly was a great group of people. Thank you to Quaker Oats for hosting the event. Thank you also for giving me a packet of the limited edition pumpkin spice oatmeal that is available only at Wal-Mart. It was truly tasty, but I find Wal-Mart far too depressing to shop at, so I doubt I will be enjoying anymore. (Unless I find an extra pack in my panties.)