Saturday, early eve, 5:30 PM
I'm in the van. Life is good. We are hurtling up north of the city, past the Bronx, past Yonkers. The skies are getting darker, but we don't care. We are bonding over work and life experiences in the hour or so it takes to get to the house. We're even singing along to some Rod Stewart on the radio.
You wear it well
A little old fashioned but that's all right
And I do, if I do say so myself. Through a phone book mistake (Second Job Boss told me to go to OK Uniforms. When I looked it up in the Yellow Pages, I glommed on to OK Tailor Shop instead and looked no further than that listing. Oops), I have ended up with a snazzy uniform tailored specially for me at a shop on Essex Street in the remnants of the old Lower East Side. I change into it at the house once we get there and begin helping with the setup of the hors d'oeuvres trays and the open bar. It's cold enough outside for some snow to still be on the ground, and, since we are lacking some ice indoors, we put bottles of champagne out in the snow in front of the front walk. At the very least, they will be good festive decorations.
At eight o'clock, guests begin to trickle into the monster McMansion. I'm walking around with some of the appetizers and, for some reason, one of the guests takes a shine to me, maybe because I look like a fourteen-year-old girl in glasses, with a bow in her hair, playing dress-up in a tux. As the night goes on and the house packs it in, this fellow will be the one insisting on yanking me through the crowds and clearing the way as I come around with more trays of food. Nice to have a foot-traffic controller on your side.
The lady of the house asks the captain of our crew why the owners of our operation haven't come to the party. Our cap'n has to explain that the owner just would not be able to enjoy herself, because she would constantly be throwing a critical eye on the layouts of the food, on whether or not the bar is stocked well enough, on the quality and courteousness of the waitstaff - you know, all the nagging details. "That's true," the lady agrees. "Still, I wish she'd been able to come. I think she still would have had fun."
Hell, despite it all, I had fun. My feet were killing me, my arms were ready to fall off some, and the partygoers had some insatiable appetites, but everyone was enjoying themselves. On breaks, we got to enjoy some of the food ourselves, especially the guacamole, which I finally learned to like on this job despite being raised on Tex-Mex food as a young 'un (sorry, Dad). The gentleman of the house had imbibed a great deal of the offerings at the open bar, and he regaled us with the story of how he met the woman who became his wife, and how he finally convinced her to become his wife (it involved chasing her around his desk at work at one point. Oh, yeah, that'll get the love of your life to give you the time of day...). At one point, he decided to get to know us a little better.
"So Leigh, what do you do when you're not doing this ?"
"I blow glass," I said automatically.
He slapped his hand to his forehead and reeled a little. "Oh my God!" he exclaimed. "I'm trying to think - is it Ira? Seymour? Ritchie Glass? Which one is it?????!!!!!????" he roared, slapping his thigh.
Heh heh. Heh heh. Heh. Oooookay, break'soverbacktowork...
The party went on until two in the AM, when the only thing left at the bar was the bloody mary mix. We had already ventured out into the snow to get the champagne bottles, and those were long gone. We piled everything back into the van (which didn't take long - there wasn't much food left, either) and the drunken master of the house bade me farewell with a " 'Bye, Leigh! Good luck on, ah, blowing glass!!!!"
How did his wife stand it? I wondered.
On the road again. And we got lost, dammit. By the time we got in to Manhattan, it was four AM. I got on the F train back to Smith Street and didn't fall into bed there until five AM. Two and a half hours later, I had to open up a public access studio for Sunday morning glass art fools. My working marathon was far from over.