ARghghg - I actually started this installment once and the computer ate it. Darn. Ok. so - Bermuda was fantastic. I had no idea how tired I actually was and I slept and slept and slept the first couple of days. But I did manage to do a whole lot of research on the possible songs for the shows, pouring through the interweb and the google looking for fun facts about everything from 'Moonriver' to the Banana Boat Song. I'm finding great stuff and it's going to break my heart to have to whittle down the song choices to a decent running time. The weather was fabuliscious (except for a few rainy days), to the point where my ghost white legs in shorts were imposed upon innocent bystanders. No I did not go to the beach. No I did not get sun. Yes I am a vampire. I did take a little time in between staring at the computer screen to catch up on some movies I'd missed... I saw Capote (and i think Infamous was a WAY better movie about the same thing). Atonement is absolutely fantastic with one of the most amazing tracking shots I've ever ever seen (they travel across the chaos of the landing at Normandy for like five minutes without a single cut). I made time to sneak that one in cuz the Pack Leader is not a Masterpiece Theatre typey movie fan, so I blitz those when we're not togtether. And we saw Iron Man which is pretty fab.
Did I remember to tell you about someone asking us a few weeks ago if Rich and I were brothers? Yup. I'm sure Sigfriend and Roy get the same question. Of course, while I was gone I also heard that a guy at the Hardware store asked Rich if Janice was his wife. And THEN Margarets mom, and spritely septegenarian commented that Janice 'was just like her sister'. So - I'm thinking they both need some beauty sleep. Particularly since if you add up those two comments it means someone thought Rich looks old enough to be married to Betty White.
They were working like sled dogs dragging Boy George uphill. (have you seen boy george lately? not good.) Bob was also in town over that weekend, so as you know, that ups the ante an extra notch as well. Even though the clock was ticking on ladies room being ready for the prom, there were some things Rich really needed to take care of in other areas while Bob was here. The major one of these mammoth undertakings was the insertion of a new front door over a the actor housing. A new front door you ask???? Yeah well.. that's what I said. Let's just guess how this happened. An Eckert. Madge and Claire, in their perambulation of the Byron Street house managed to reconfigure our original plan from a three bedroom space into a six bedroom space. We attribute this to the fact that when you come from a family of fourteen siblings - you learn how to maximize your square footage ('Oh my god...this broom closet could totally work as a bowling alley and skating rink'). So - their new plan involved a hallway and a new front door being added in. And a new front door meant Bob. I learned all of this while I was in Bermuda - and I still actually haven't seen this new entrance but I'm told it was successful. So yay.
I was totally devastated to learn that Janice had mastered the 'olive garden' wall texture technique which I had done upstairs in our bathroom - it was under the purvue of 'artsy fartsy crap jo jo can do'. Now that Rich bakes cakes pretty well I'm expecting to be put out to pasture pretty soon. And let's face it - they can't even put me out to stud. I'm gonna be dog food. So - they got the fun texture icing goo from Home Depot - and Janice did the plaster finish all over the bathroom walls (an aesthetic decision we made because those walls were really in pretty rough shape, the straight-forward paint treatment didn't require a smooth surface, and this treatment would give a really slick even finish to everything.)
In this picture you can ALSO see the bee-yoo-tiful new half wall which Rich added in to add a more private sight-line from the door into the bathroom. They got that studded and drywalled in no time, and it came out great. The nice thing is, at least for most of the bathroom project, even though it was a tricky space with a lot of hang-ups - it was a lot of the same kind of tasks which the Pack Leader already got under his belt from the bathroom and the kitchen upstairs. So, this time for instance, we remembered to install the drywall pushed up as high against the ceiling as possible, rather than getting it flush at the base of the floor. Because your baseboard COVERS the floor, but you have to use joint compound at the top and too big of a gap will crack. Learning curve, folks. It's a great thing.
Paint finish in there was next. I had managed to hastily grab a few paint samples on my way out of Home Depot when we first bought a sample of the linoleum we had choosen for the Ladies (yes, they make you BUY a sample). Rich kinda used those as a starting point and picked a kind of caramel color which is a lovely transition from the gold of the lobby into the bathroom, and also picks up colors in the linoleum really well.
And apparently this is where things started getting less than fun. (Since working around here is normally just like a free-pass at Disneyland). For the lower half of the walls we had chosen this very nice warm reddy wood panelling from Home Depot (or as the people at Lowe's call it: The Orange Store). We THOUGHT it would make things a lot speedier - be great to keep things clean, and look quite smart when all was said and done. The speedier part was apparently a gross miscalculation. Apparently it's tricky to cut, and seam and everything. Not that you can tell - because by the time I got home it was all installed and looked really sharp. But, like everything, it took longer than expected. Except this took, so i'm told, a LOT longer than expected :p.
Nice, right? Of course - it doesn't quite look as spiffy without the matching molding on the top and bottom - but patience my little moppets.
I THINK it's around this time that I returned to home sweet home. Also, while I'd been gone, the word hit the grapevine that one of our two regularly frequented Home Depots was going to be closing. At FIRST we thought that both were going to close and I was freakin'. But - as long as we still have one of them, we'll be fine. But - if you recall - long ago and far away when this project first started, months before our actual move in day, Rich and Janice had the good fortune of stumbling across another Home Depot shut down in New Hampshire. And when they close them, rather than go through the hassle of transporting all the merchandise to another store... they just want rid of it. So they start big sales. So Team Najuch started salivating like Po in a Twizzler factory and began scouting for bargains. I have no idea what all they've bought over the past week... I figure what I don't know won't freak me out.
So - when I arrived there was only about twenty four hours until Prom time. Because of the panelling taking so long, they had been working really, really long hours feverishly trying to get the thing 'chiffon ready' as I called it. Madge and Larry came and helped all day and the next. Larry felt that we should put luan down on TOP of the subfloor to create a really smooth surface for the linoleum. It wasn't all that important in our kitchen upstairs - but in a such a high traffic area (we hope!!) the rougher subfloor over time would start to show a lot more irregularities. Sooo. Luan. Which was another time factor we hadn't planned on.
As you also may recall from previous blogs... Rich had made a start sandblasting the partition doors for the bathroom stalls. I had then worked on them with paint stripper. And then Janice had taken them on as her own personal battle to the death. The paint was very stubborn - and eventually it was decided that stripping them down to their metal finish wasn't going to be possible to the standard we would like. So we went with their original surface color (beneath all those other layers of paint) and thy found a really great high gloss black finish paint. Janice managed to get these things looking absolutely incredible. BUT - a new snag. They wouldn't dry. They required a certain temperature to set, and they were taking forever to not remain tacky. So they couldn't be picked up or maneuvered to flip and paint the other side. Which, with less than a day to go, was proving a concern. Because as much as girls like to go the bathroom together....they don't like to go to the bathroom TOGETHER. So we moved them into one of the smaller vestibules off the side of the stage and started blasting them with the salamander.
The prom was the first time we weren't using all of the tables with circular bases, so we also needed to get the requisite number of square tables covered with that fuzzy plasticy table stuff that gives them a nice surface beneath the linens.
Rich and Larry started to tackle the linoleum. Which they laid out in lobby to measure out the right pattern. Ever seen that episode of I Love Lucy where she cuts out a dress pattern on the floor and lifts it up and she's cut out the same shape in the carpet? That's why I'm glad I wasn't on linoleum duty. But they measured and checked and rechecked - which was quite a task since, as you know NOTHNG IS SQUARE IN THIS ENTIRE BUILDING, and there are a bunch of little crevices and crannies in that room.
And, believe it or not, I actually even managed to get a photograph of the illusive Larry which I can post. Because in it he's headless.
And that's when, in the face of eight zillion setbacks, a couple chips fell in our favor. Or cards. Or dice. You figure it out. Rich realized that the linoleum was kind that you DON'T GLUE. Yup. Believe it or not there is some linoleum which is not supposed to be glued down. Some of it is supposed to be cut to fit, stapled around the perimeter and then just lay there. Like broccolli (Pretty Woman reference, anybody? Anybody?). It suddenly stuck him that the stuff might be like that - so he called the Orange Store and checked with some people (who on the other end of the phone were no doubt wearing orange) and he was RIGHT. Which saved us at least a couple of long hours rolling the stuff back and gluing and smoothing and rolling and trowelling. Which was awesome. Because that meant we were only about, oh, two dozen years behind schedule!
So late into the night before the prom Larry and Rich got the linoleum installed. The did a ridiculously good job of measuring it 'off site' as it were - once it was cut and they rolled it into place - it slotted perfectly through all those weird corners and jutting sections. It required just a little bit of trimming along their safety area, and then Margaret jumped in there wielding her famous finger-killing staple gun and secured it all in place.
At the same time Cindy the waitress (and Po-sitter extraordinaire) had decided to slum it - and she came by to help us. Which, when you consider that Cindy works a nine hour job slinging tenderloins and has to be a Nick's at 5 am is pretty awesome. Because normally I think she has to get to bed at around 4:15 pm :)
Rich had rescued her a few days earlier when she had a plumbing debacle with a new washing machine connection that had gone awry...so she was returning the favor in our hour of need. I think perhaps the cruelest thing we have done to a volunteer so far may have been to Cindy. The poor woman has worked nine hours a day for past fourteen years in a restaurant, she comes to help us out...and we have her set silverware. So congrats to us for giving her a nice change of pace! She really saved our bacon actually - helping me figure out all the table arrangments, ironing all the linens, and even our shirts - which she managed to hang in a rather glamorous location:
Actually Cindy and I ran a covert O.C.D. operation, since Rich and Janice think it's ok to mix and match the cafe chairs with the two different (but very complimentary) patterns of seat fabric at the same table. Cindy, much to her dismay and horror, is actually cut much more from my cloth and when no one was watching us we would zip around reconfiguring all of one pattern around the tables in the outer lobby, and all the other pattern set in the inner lobby. It was enormously satisfying. No one else would ever notice - but I know Cindy slept better that night too :)
So the day of the prom was pretty much a whirlwind as we approached lift off. Janice had to leave that morning - she'd already extended her stay several days, and the only flight she could swap without it being insanely expensive left early that day. So - she bid us farewell so early po hadn't even decided to start pestering us for breakfast yet. And then we just started trying to get everything finalized and ready to roll. All the tables were in place, the linens set and everything. At the Home Depot clearance shut-down thing, Rich bought a Dyson vaccuum cleaner (which is already worth its weight in gold) - and it got officially broken in. We powerwashed the front of the building (but thanks to a rather gusty day, Rich didn't even believe I'd DONE IT two hours later... cuz when the wind is blowing crap...and you've made the walls wet... the crap STICKS to the walls. Grrrr. Luckily I had witnesses.
The bathroom, we had determined late the evening before, was just not gong to be finished. Rich at this point, having not taken a day off for three weeks, and working insane hours while I was gone trying to catch up the renovation with all these obstacles...AND having to spend the hours it takes to process all the ticket sales etc. was just running on fumes. It was taking the poor guy about three times as long to do a simple task as it normally would - and it just wasn't going to be possible for him to get it all completed. We reasoned that it was only an hour and a half dinner - and it was only 23 people at the event - it wasn't like 300 women were going to need to use the facilities during a tight 15 minute intermission. So. Plan B. We had one toilet that was functional and working beautifully. And the room, with the panelling and linoleum didn't look finished - but it was more than presentable and spic and span. The only real issue was that we had no stall partitions. By this point they were dry - but they quite a bugger to install, and we didn't have the time. So - we just turned the whole area into a single bathroom for the night. I ran to the hardware store and got one of those little metal hook/eye clasp locks and installed it (MYSELF!) into the doorway - so one girl could go at a time and enjoy a rather cavernous ladies room experience. So, with a 'pardon our progress' sign in place - the bathroom was ready to serve. If not ready for Better Homes and Gardens. yet.
While Rich was taking care of a lot of final touches, I waa running errands back and forth. The most delightful of these was my crusade to Walmart to purchase feminine hygiene products for the ladies room. Get tampons I was told. Well - that's easy for YOU to say Pack Leader. I have, as you may gather, rather limited experience in this department. So there I was staring at wings, and regular, and scented, and heavy flow, and extra long, and mini, and maxi, and lenny and squiggy. So. I made an executive decision. Getting something which I felt would serve the widest demographic and range of taste...and checked out at the cash register with my head held high. Trauma over. I get back to the theatre. Done.
You see - I bought maxi pads. And apparently pads aren't enough. Apparently I'm supposed to provide female patrons with a cornucopia of va jay jay options. And I was sent back for tampons. Which were even more complicated to pick out than pads. I ended up having to use my "phone a friend" and call Madge to bail me out over the phone.
Meanwhile food prep began over at Pork Central. Jean Anne had enlisted a friend of hers to act as copilot. And he' s kind of like every great chef - certifiable, brilliant, and tons and fun. Between the two of them they were cooking up a storm - and things were already starting to smell and look incredible.
And then, pretty much, they started to arrive. I lost track of time... so at the last minute I was flailing around trying to print the menus (we thought the girls might want to keep them as a keepsake... some did.) And then it was showtime.
And I have to say it was sooooo nice. Even in the process of my usual stressed out squirrel on crack state, I enjoyed myself. I don't have any GREAT pictures - because I didn't want to be intrusive - and i was busy serving... but I got a couple crummy ones:
Of course my primary barometer for the success of the event was the fact that I managed to not pour diet soda over anyones dress. Seriously - I'm not good with a pitcher. See, Rich was a waiter for years, and I am a newbie... But I managed to remember to serve all the girls first, and I only refilled regular coke with diet one time (shhhhh - don't tell anybody). I actually walked into the prep area right after I did that, realized and went "Oh Shit" rather loudly and told Rich what i'd done as if I had accidentally urinated on the Last Supper... He felt it was less of a big deal. I actually was probably so overzealous trying to keep their glasses refilled with soda that they were probably bouncing off the walls well past post prom.
The food was BEAUTIFUL.
I was particularly fond of the fancy little carrot sticks. The cheese plate also had very exciting celery stalk palm trees.
The presentation that Jean Anne cooked up was just gorgeous and I was so happy with it. Honestly the greatest thing for me about the entire event was it was kind of a dry run for how things would go for the Supper Club - and it really put my mind at ease about how wonderful everything was going to turn out. We didn't get to taste the food until later (so I'll give you that review in a minute), but they youngsters certainly seemed delighted. The whole thing seemed over in a flash really. One couple at the end asked us 'what the movie was tonight'... I have no IDEA how they ever could have construed that we were showing a film (or if they thought it was part of the ticket why they wouldn't want to know before hand what it WAS? Or why they would rather watch a movie than go to prom anyway..) but I was dissapointed I couldn't oblige. I nearly was like...um.. well I'm sure Dirty Dancing is running on some channel in our living room?
The most dramatic event of the evening, thankfully, was in no way possible blameable on me. Who hoo. A couple arrived - she in a gorgeous full length chiffon dress. I mean she was fully prom-ed. And her date was in... sweats and sneakers. At first when they arrived I thought it was an odd combo (I mean i would get the whole "I'm gonna rebel and be out of the mould thing" if that's your style)...but usually you know...you'd do it TOGETHER. Well - through the evening as she was frantically texting in between every bite, it transpired the poor guy had not arranged for a suit. So they spent the entire dinner trying to find him one. I felt soooooo bad for him. And her. And him. They wanted to try and find one in time for their photos later in the evening. I gotta say though - she was handling it really well. If the dude wasn't like 5' 11" I felt so bad I would have lent him mine. I wish I could report how it all turned out... Sadly it remans a mystery.
So - before we knew it the strawberry cheescakes and sorbets were devoured and they were off like... well "off like a prom dress" as they say :). Believe it or not by seven thirty all the dishes had zoomed through the giant industrial Pork Dish Washer, and we could relax. We thought it would be fun to have a little celebration afterwards to commemorate our first real 'public event', so we invited Larry and Margaret and Jean Anne's husband Kenny and Cindy (who couldn't make it...bummer) to come over after. We had Jean Anne make enough for all of us afterwards, so we got to sample the goods. By this point Rich was in desperate need of...and figured most everyone else could also use a stiff libation. So he had me bring down basically our entire liquor cabinet. Well - we don't really have a cabinet - it's more our entire liquor in a small huddle in the corner of his office. Anyway - so I brought that all downstairs while we were waiting for Madge and Larry.
Now... originally we had planned on having TWO sittings for the prom dinner. Six and Eight. Because someone told us the prom was at nine. But this turned out to be false - the prom was at eight. Sooo, we cancelled the second sitting and consolidated. Apparently - the Herald Press, however, decided to come take a picture of the prom dinner (incredibly cool of them...wish they'd asked us first :(... at EIGHT O CLOCK.
Which meant - the photographer walked in, expecting to see a meal laid out for a bunch of seventeen year olds, and saw this...
Nice. Well - we explained and, from what I gather from the pictures in the paper the next day, he headed over to the prom itself. Anyway - we all got to eat ourselves silly - and it was pretty fantastic. I'm not a real steak/red meat person... but the prime rib was INCREDIBLE, the twice baked potatoes yummy and deadly, and the cheesecake was fab. I was soooo happy. So, kids... the supper club food is gonna knocke your socks off. This ain't your fathers pork.
One of the girls actually tracked us down and emailed us: Hey guys! i finally found your page and i wanted to give you some serious kudos for what you have done to the theatre, its absolutely amazing!! I came for dinner this past weekend for prom and i couldn't have chosen a better place to dine. you were very professional and personable and really made it an enjoyable experience for all of us!! We really appreciat it =)
Yay! So - slam dunk. So - all in all a great success. It wasn't an easy sell, but we got pretty good number in the end. The tricky thing was, all the parents think it's a fabulous idea - so WHY would the kids want to do what their parents tell them? We knew it was going to have be something that grew over time... and particularly since most of these kids had no idea what the renovation looked like, they didn't realize how nice a venue it could be. And, after the supper club etc. we'll have a much higher visibility with younguns. But - it went great. We had 23 kids there, and I already enlisted that girl who wrote us to tell all her friends who are JUNIORS. I didn't realize that school wasn't over yet - which is great - cuz hopefully they all went back and said how nice it was. So bring on the winter formal!
And that was that. The first event put to bed. And I'm sure we all were in ours long before the youngsters we fed :)