floor and large dining area (and as much space between them
as possible), I let Robert do his magic. At this late date, no restaurant or
event venue has availability. We’re going to have to find a raw space, and
bring everything in.
With Robert’s connections, we
find a church for sale in the Dogpatch neighborhood. It’s perfect. The church
itself is empty, and there is a parsonage next door with a large kitchen and
reception room. What’s more, there’s a private courtyard that connects the two
buildings. We contact the realtor, and by the end of the day, we have arranged
to rent it for the week.
Robert and I spend Sunday
coming up with a timeline and a vendor list. Monica has received a hundred
RSVPs already, and Robert tries to push me over the $150,000 budget. He’s very
persuasive, but I just keep hearing Bryan’s voice in my head. He doesn’t
like surprises .
Monday we hit the ground
running, and the week flies by. I have an inspector verify the building is up
to code, I contact our insurance company to give us a quote, I schedule a walk-through
with the fire marshal, and hire a cleaning crew for before and after the event.
Robert handles the caterer, the DJ, and the lighting company. We meet with our
décor vendor on how to turn the parsonage into an elegant dining hall and the
church into a techno palace. Bryan has been in rural Italy for two weeks. He
needs some sensory overload for his birthday.
And, of course, I had the
little black dress dry-cleaned.
Thursday morning, the milk
curdles in my coffee. Considering I just bought it, I check the refrigerator and
find that everything is warm. I call the building super and within an hour he
confirms what I already know—it’s dead. He promises to get a repairman out
today. These things always happen when I don’t have the time to deal with them.
Thursday night, there’s a
sticky note on my fridge. “Cheaper to replace than repair—ordering new one.”
Looks like I’ll be eating takeout for a few more days. I hope I can still fit
in that dress tomorrow night.
When Friday arrives, I’m at
the church at nine in the morning. I had hoped to grab breakfast on the way in,
but the line at the local coffee shop was too long. Robert is working with the
lighting guys, so I take the lead on the décor crew load-in. There is some
drama when the forklift gets stuck in the up position, but I leave that to
Robert to handle while I run back to the parsonage.
Inside, I find a hysterical Hispanic
woman. She starts speaking to me in Spanish. Very rapid Spanish. At that moment,
my phone rings. It’s not a number I recognize, so I let it go to voicemail. This
woman’s outburst seems more pressing.
My phone rings again from the
same number. I give her my best “Uno momento” and take the call. I recognize
the voice immediately. Or rather, the tone.
“For what I am paying you, I
expect you to pick up the phone and not send me to voicemail.”
“How’s your Spanish?”
“Can you speak Spanish?” I’ve
thrown Jackson off his stride. He says he does, so I order, “Translate” and
hand the phone to the woman. They have a short conversation, and then she hands
the phone back to me.
He’s calmer now. “It seems
there are pigeons in your kitchen. Is everything all right?”
That is not the thing you
want a client to know. “Oh, she must mean that they’ve delivered the quail.”
“I’m sure that’s exactly what
she means. So, I should expect quail for dinner?”
“Appetizer.” What tangled
webs we weave. “Did you have any other questions?”
“I was just checking that
everything’s on schedule.”
“And that I haven’t absconded
with your money?” Oh, I’m getting testy. “No, everything is going very well. I look forward to seeing you tonight at six.”
“Then I’ll let you get back
to your quail .”
“Thank you. You’re very
“Yes, I am.” Jackson makes
that phrase sound practically