Saturday, October 23, 2004

“And we are your friends, Angela… whether you like it or not.”

The Movie: Married to the Mob, 1988 (Barry Strugatz and Mark R. Burns, screenwriters; Jonathan Demme, dir.)
Who says it: Mercedes Ruehl as Connie, wife of the Mob boss Tony the Tiger (Dean Stockwell)
The context: Angela de Marco (Michelle Pfeiffer), wife of one of Tony’s lieutenants, refuses Connie’s invitation to an evening of cards.
How to use it: I hate to say it, but this line will eventually be useful in almost any institutionalized group of women.

I am rather notoriously not a team player. I chose my college at least in part because it had no sororities. If and when I go to hell, hell will probably be one long Junior League meeting run by the girls I hated in high school.

So it's surprising, even to me, that I've belonged to Women in Housing and Finance on and off for the last 17 years. Their 25th Anniversary Gala, last night, was the main reason for the timing of this visit to Washington.

"I thought you hated WHF," Ashton said last night. When we shared the house on 15th Street (1995-97), I held a variety of positions with WHF, including newsletter editor, co-chair of the Monthly Luncheons Committee (!) and Secretary -- because, not being a team player, I deal with groups by trying to run things. So I burned out pretty badly, and I was disgusted with the bickering and vacillation over whether to create a non-profit foundation -- because we were a professional association, not a charitable association, as if the two were mutually exclusive -- and I quit.

That lasted about a year, because Diane Casey, an executive with Grant Thornton at the time, became President-Elect and asked me to come back. Diane now runs America's Community Bankers; she is both a visionary and a pragmatist, and has an extraordinary gift for cutting through the unnecessary while making everyone feel included. No one says no to Diane, and I didn't either.

Anyway, I'm glad I went back, and I was glad to be at this event last night. It's another of those bookends, because WHF held its 20th Anniversary Gala the weekend before I left Washington for Los Angeles. It was almost possible to pretend, last night, that the intervening five years hadn't happened at all.

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