For about a year now I’ve been after my mom to plan a “Dine Out For a Cause” type of event that would benefit the JDRF. What I envisioned as a casual fundraiser with a percentage of the proceeds going to the JDRF became a full-blown Caribbean Festival, with island-inspired foods and music, and a wonderful tropical oasis created by a friend and longtime guest of the restaurant.
My dad and stepmother joined us and brought friends. Todd and I went over to the restaurant in the early afternoon to help set up – the place was bustling with activity not unlike our wedding day (except I looked a lot less Peg Bundy, and a lot more Demi this time). There was an ENORMOUS amount of set up to be done in the raffle room and apparently no one was available for this task but me. So I worked my room, and Todd worked on his projects, and next thing we knew – it was 5. The event started at 6, both of us needed to go home and change, and neither of us had eaten since breakfast.
So we get to the event. Everyone is there. It’s festive, it’s fun, lots of hugs and air kisses all around. I had a margarita. On an empty stomach. No matter – I sipped it slowly and milled about with the guests – and then my friend came in with her new baby and I got to hold her for a good 25 minutes, leaving my half-empty drink on the bar until someone took it away. That was probably a good thing. Still no food in mah belleh.
I later moved on to wine, and milled about some more. I found my family, including my husband, all sitting down and eating dinner, so I decided it might be a good idea to visit the buffet. I returned to the table with a second glass of wine and sat down, in the unfortunate seat between my husband and Mr. Name Dropper who is somehow linked to show business and spent the next half hour leaning over my plate while I’m eating, and chewing my ear off about all the people he knows. Yeah, well I was working up there in Jersey with Bob DeNiro …but, ya know, I’m not a name dropper, really…. And Uma is such a nice woman, really down to earth…. But really, I’ve just gotta tell you…
And the next thing I knew I’d finished glass #2 and was staring at the bar wondering how appropriate it would be to excuse myself to get another glass of wine, even after he offered some from his bottle (nevermind that it was the same wine I was drinking from the bar). But, I needed to get away from this guy who was invading. My. Personal. Space. I couldn’t even eat. And really, the dude did drop a lot of names, as in – if I had a dime for every name I heard I’d be a millionaire – but none of them sounded even remotely familiar to me. I haven’t been in the [restaurant] business this long not to smell horseshit a mile away – or – in this case, less than 12 inches (no kidding).
So, I gently excused myself and headed for the bar for – glass #3, and left poor Todd to fend for himself with Mr. I-know-everyone-in-the-Baltimore-Symphony-the-two-of-you-really-need-to-come-and-meet-Miss-blahblah. Really, if I hadn’t had that much to drink on an empty stomach, I might have been lucid enough to actually remember that an entire blog post could be written solely about our encounter with him. And all the people he said he knew. But now I am left with mere shards of conversation, and a lingering irritation at having my personal space violated. I. Do. Not. Like. It.
The rest of the evening remains a blur, filled with conversations with friends and guests, and a brief speech by my mom about diabetes and her granddaughter’s need for a cure, and the daughter she is in awe of, that – by glass #4 – made me cry. The last thing I remember was sitting next to Todd on the couch, my head on his shoulder, falling asleep and not giving a shit if my mouth was hanging open.
I fell asleep in bed later in my clothes – an old trick I learned in college, and woke up with my makeup still on – another college classic. And. Hung. Over. Four glasses of wine over 5 hours is not a lot for me. But it is on an empty stomach. Lesson learned: never, ever, drink on an empty stomach.
So work the next day came early – with the massive cleanup and reorganization of the dining rooms for one special party of 25, regular business, and 2 out-of-house caterings. We were hustling to get it all done by 5:30 and, by 3:30, my ass was dragging. No longer dizzy, just a marching unit finishing off the final performance in my head, making me at once irritable and aching for the nearest couch to lie down on. Which is the worst feeling in the world, feeling like somebody slipped me a valium and knowing my night hasn’t even begun yet.
And of course it started out with this kid (who was probably the youngest looking 20-something I’ve seen in a long time) complaining about where their party of 6 was seated – and – why can’t they sit down there, in the most requested and booked out room in the house instead?? Our host came rushing back with this massive problem, which wasn’t really a problem at all because I would’ve said that room is already booked out, and too bad for you. Well, I don’t really speak to our guests that way but I was already in a foul mood from the hangover and this last minute request to move a SIX somewhere else about sent my tolerance over the edge. BUT – it wasn’t my call and we … moved them. And the evil little man in my head was like, good! Reward their bullshit and don’t bother teaching them about how you properly dine out.
The really bad part about all of this is that I enjoy helping to make others’ experience here enjoyable, and above all else – letting the first table of the evening screw up your happy beat is like trying to walk on a blister all night long. It’s a hot, angry, inescapable irritation that can and will get worse if you continue treading on it. In other words – let it go!
Because if you don’t, then
the table of five old ladies asking if a tossed salad (we don’t do those)comes with dinner,
and the non-dairy diner wants sorbet that is any flavor but the one you have tonight,
and you broke 2 fingernails and ruined yesterday’s manicure catching two dinner trays before they clambered to the floor in the middle of the dining room,
and the shortage of servers to meet the guests’ demands,
and witnessing grave fine dining service errors on the floor,
and children half your age who have worked less than 10% of the years you have put into this business giving you orders,
and we currently have no dishwashers so the dishes were piled to the heavens,
and the credit card batch out at the end of the night wasn’t adding up….
will ruin your night!! And make you a nasty, snarky bitch to coworkers, who have no idea the FSU marching band has returned for a Seminoles encore in your brain and you’re really just tired.
The next day wasn’t a whole lot better. It was like somebody laid a giant fart over my universe that smelled like animal carcass. I blame it on the wine. I slept till 10, while Todd packed half the living room up and loaded it into our two cars to drive down to the new house – and – since we got such a late start, all my plans to blitz the laundry room (a whole other blog post in itself) and paint some more walls were derailed by an impending funeral.
Yes, you read that right. We had to attend a funeral. A very close colleague of Todd’s passed suddenly last week while on vacation. Todd’s entire department and then some, were there. And only a handful of spouses – so, I could have stayed behind and pine-soled the family room from floor to ceiling instead, but, my husband needed me. Todd had mentioned it was a viewing, but still I swallowed the grapefruit in my throat when we entered the room and I saw the open casket. I’m not a big fan of seeing dead bodies. The first and last one I ever saw, was my Nana. And that was a choice for, if nothing else, the most obvious reason. I whispered to Todd that I understood if he wanted to pay his respects up close and personal-like, but I would be waiting over there until he was done. It might have sounded more like, I can’t do this.
You may recall my mentioning how emotional I can get at things like these. And, still feeling a bit raw from my hangover and the previous work night, I was really worried I’d lose my composure again and this time it was either gonna be bad, or really really bad. It’s the difference between reverent tears, or extremely inappropriate laughter. I felt like a mannequin with the pasty smile, talking myself through every single moment and trying not to focus too much on the really bad guitar playing up front. Thankfully it was only one song (?) and we were too far away for my challenged ears to hear even half of what people were saying about Mark. SO, I made it through without embarrassing myself.
And we made it back to the house just long enough for me to lie down on the futon, get cozy, and …. fall asleep. I drank too much wine without food on Friday, which gave me a hangover on Saturday, which wrecked my sunny disposition, which left me too exhausted on Sunday (because hangovers over 40 are a 48-hour ordeal) to do anything productive but go to a funeral and fall asleep. I blame it on the wine.