yes - I'm behind. But this week has been very low on excitement. We've been recovering. Pack Leader's been doing taxes. I've been taking care of advertising stuff... nothing that's gonna rock your world. So let's focus on the fun stuff: Where were we? Rotary... And in they walked. All of them. Alllllll.
See here's what happened. We had asked for an RSVP for numbers. Since we were providing the food - it was pretty important to know how many people we were cooking for. As people filtered in comments were incredibly warm and positive - people really surprised and kind of shocked to see the space. Which is exactly what we wanted. The RSVP that we had received was for 34 people. Including guests. We figured that some people wouldn't sign up, or weren't at the meeting that day, or might bring last minute guests. So we figured we'd prepare food for like 44...a good number really since that's the number of seats we had in the space. Totally covered. Ohhhh yeah?
As the minutes passed it seemed as if numbers were growing. Chairs were being rapidly filled and a lot of people hadn't taken their seats yet. We started doing head counts. Ok. Still fine. Close, but still fine. As more people filtered in we realized there we were absolutely going to have to cut the rotary cake (which was originally supposed to be only a prop for people to look at... lucky I didn't make it out of styrofoam.) The real issue, of course, was our meatloaves. See, me being the GENIUS that I am deciding to do individual portions of things... you can't make them smaller or try and stretch them. We had lots of rolls... seemed like we had lots of scalloped potatoes (After Jean Anne and i had been through a previous catering 'are we going to make it?' event, she totally knew the Jo Jo would panic if there weren't like tons of extra :) ). Corn we had tons of. Meatloaves...um...we started counting heads like every minute.
54 people came. RSVP for 34. Seats for 44. How many showed up? 54. Aaaaaaaaaaa. I mean - this was ABSOLUTELY fantastic - seriously - I mean the more people we got to address and get excited about the theatre, the better. And it's way better to give a speech to larger numbers than smaller... so we were thrilled. While we were hyperventilating, we were thrilled. And then in they walked. Just as we were teetering on being able to manage things...in walked a family of six. Yup. A family. A mother and five children. We had NO idea what was going on. We wondered if they thought it was just a restaurant. It was hysterical. Jean Anne gave Rich a directive to go get chairs from Nick's kitchen - since all the seats were filled, and people were arriving and thinking they couldn't stay because of space. Rich and Margaret were so fast I didn't even know it was going on... I think we might have lost like one person. Thank goodness it wasn't a busy lunch at Nicks - Just imagine poor Cindy's face, holding down the fort over at Nicks when two chair thieves descend and start unloading chairs. At this point nothing associated with us surprises her, and apparently she just barked "Don't you take any from MY section". We had to seat people in places where they couldn't even see the head table. We had to give up OUR seats at the head table - which wasn't a problem at all since we weren't eating. We were serving actually, so we couldn't even sit, never mind eat.
We started serving the food - now dealing with far more numbers than anticipated - and with Rich and Margaret running interference, I actually ended up doing far more serving than I have any reasonable competence to attempt. Here I am always speaking about the atmosphere we need to project as being really classy, elegant and extremely focused on customer interraction - and I'm racing around like a rollerskate waiter on crack - racing back and forth and trying not to sling food on people's laps.
Ok - I actually wasn't all that bad...but i was a little on the energetic side of things. As plates went out and food dwindled we all starting to perspire about our chances of being able to serve them all. We formulated a plan to feed the five kids last - since we could split a meat loaf into two portions for them if need be - which made me feel like a jerk cuz their table was RIGHT NEXT to the serving station and I kept zooming past them... 52....53.... 54.... OMG we made it. I know I always said Margaret was a saint but I actually think she might be upgraded beyond that - cuz she was doing some MAJOR multiplying of loaves and fished back there. It was crazy.
So. All 54 got fed. A miracle. Really. Turns out that we had 60 meatloaves cuz, thank goodness, I'd made more than enough mix and Susannah had just filled as many muffin tins as she could. The President of the Rotary had wanted to make a bit of an event out of cutting the cake - a fantastic idea - but they started their agenda while we realized we had run out of the sheet cakes, so we had to cut it without any fanfare whatsoever. And, thankfully, it actually tasted fantastic. Like, best I'd ever made - so I'm GLAD we ended up having to cut it. Oh, and because I felt so guilty about serving the five kids last...they were first for cake :) I'm not an ogre.
Honestly...once we knew the meatloaf crisis was covered - things were totally cool. It was a lot of zipping around tables - since we hadn't counted on the two of handling that many tables... but behind that screen Jean Anne, Margaret and Janice drizzled sauce and gently dolloped potatoes beautifully. Margaret also demonstrated one of the most ingenious things I've ever seen...you're not shocked are you. Ok.. she cut cake with DENTAL FLOSS. Not kidding. Perfectly clean, fine cuts right through the cake. I'm not sure if the mint flavor added a little zing...could be.
After all the stress about the speech, it actually went over great. Of course, without the stress, it wouldn't have gotten the massive rewrite and it would have sucked on toast. So it was definitely worth the hashing out. They laughed. A lot - which was wonderful. With no place to sit, it was good we had not planned on a microphone at the table... We just held our speeches at the side of the head table...stood and delivered. I had no choice but to put my water at a nearby table - so I had to keep gently migrating when Rich had a long section to steal a glug. Well, I could have put the water on the piano, but Rich would have killed me :) Suzanna, even with her cold, was absolutely fantastic. She sounded beautiful - and, after our closing words and her rousing rendiiton of 'Climb Every Mountain' they gave us an immediate standing ovation which was completely overwhelming. Apparently while we were talking, Margaret and Janice were crying up on the stairs (I asked the audience award the Pegans the New Huntington's first round of applause). We got through it. Although we didn't get any pictures (we weren't sure if we were allowed (after all it's the Rotary's event, we were just hosting) and I was way to busy running around), Bob Brown, our President of the Chamber of Commerce happened to snap a few pics that he was kind enough to share with.
People were so wonderful and complimentary...about the lobby, about the speech, about the food. it was instantly clear that all of the effort was totally worth it. They were so appreciative. The five children and the mother, it transpired, were the family of a soldier stationed in Iraq. So we're pretty glad we didn't throw them out without lunch :)
An hour later the dishes had been run through Nick's gigantic dishwasher, the linens were bagged and ready to go, and we were hungrily munching on remaining cake. The linens actually were the one thing we plan on doing differently in the future. Seems rental linens all have creases in them... and these had very strong folds lines in them which just weren't that attractive. So, since this is apparently the linen service everyone says is the best one around, we've figured we'll just get our own. it will save money in the long run and we can keep them looking crisp.
To say we were exhausted was the understatement of the century. Frankly, I can't even REMEMBER what we did the rest of the day. The next day however feedback started trickling in and it was all wonderful. Jean Anne said she's been told it was one of the most impressive Rotary presentations they'd ever had... someone said the best he'd seen in five years. People were blown away that Suzanna had come all the way from New York. People loved the lobby. Apparently our speech had answered a lot of people's questions...and suddenly our venture seemed to make a lot more sense to them as a business venture and an opportunity to help the whole town.
That next morning Rich and I had been invited to be on a panel at Huntington University. The subject was on "Major events in Arts, Parks and Recreation In Huntington" for the Adult Leadership class (I think). This might be, I'm not sure, but it might be the first time that a panel has ever paired up "Confirmed Bachelors who want to do musicals" with "Head of the Water Pollution Dept". The amazing thing was that the Mayor was also on the panel. He could only stay a really short time, so he was very rushed... but as he was wrapping up and heading out the door he turned and gestured to us and said: "These boys are one of the best things to ever happen to Huntington. We need to do everything we can to support them".
Which was pretty darn awesome of him.
The next day was largely consumed with preparation for the most important holiday in the Huntington Calendar. Yup, the Queen of Pork's Birthday. Which is only slightly more important than Queen of Pork's Birthday Observed (it's a British joke...ask a Limey). Of course I wanted to make her a cake. Of course it could only be of one thing:
I was particularly excited by the tenderloin breading - which was crafted from yellow sprinkles and crushed graham crackers. I have no idea what that particular combo ended up tasting like. Probably not good for diabetics. Her Majesty loved our humble offering and actually refused to cut it until the next day so that everyone could admire it not only at Nicks, but also at a political fund raiser she had to cater that night. Awww. Rich also got up early in the morning and put "Happy Birthday Pork Queen" on the marquee in the direction facing Nicks. I particularly enjoyed the part of the installation process where the sign just said:
As you may recall the Pack Leader never enjoys the letter-taking-down part of the process and is always looking for ways to stretch the messages meaning another couple of days...weeks... months. I suggested that if he just left up "Happy Queen" people might just assume my medication had kicked in. What? I'm trying to be helpful :)
Anyhoo... by the end of the next blog I'm going to get us caught up darnit. Really, it's been a low-key couple of days - so y'all ain't missed much.