This past Wednesday, I was presented with a unique opportunity which I am ever so happy I took advantage of. A friend of mine was asked to put together a serving team for a private party. Anyone working with him at his restaurant that he normally would have used seemed to be scheduled or riddled with prior engagements, and thus came about the initiatory text.
“I know we were planning to see the Hobbit on Saturday, but I have some news that may throw a wrench in that plan. Are you free?”
Well, seeing as I was already planning on spending the day with him anyway, my freeness wasn’t really in question. I asked what he had in mind.
“With everyone else from work tied up, you were the first person I thought of to help me out with this private party. We would be serving drinks and moving the guests along through the courses of the meal. You would be paid, of course. Sound like something you can do?”
Jeez, I don’t know, I thought to myself. The Hobbit was a really good plan. But I guess if he’s not going to be joining me anyway, I might as well make some money. “Sure thing,” I replied, “as long as you’re totally clear on the fact that I’ve never ever not once served anything in my life.”
“I have faith in you. You’ll do great. I’ll get you all the information soon.” It’s nice to be believed in, I suppose, but I still felt a little anxiety building already. It was only Wednesday, and the shindig or whatever wasn’t until Saturday, but that didn’t matter. I had a few days to grab some black pants and prepare for…well I really didn’t know much about what I just signed up for in all honesty. Private party. Black pants and button down. Taking drink orders and doling out food. Those were the only facts I knew for sure.
The next few days were eventful as ever. My roommates and I attended the midnight showing of The Hobbit (yeah I was planning to see it twice…shut up), and like all proper residents of Middle Earth, I was wearing my cloak. That night, ending somewhere around 5AM, segued relatively smoothly into my full day of work on Friday. By this time, my friend had given me some more details about this Saturday hootenanny. An address. Arrive by 5 o’clock. Pay would be $120.
More agreeable facts. And even with the few details I was able to get (and by few I mean close to none) about the actual party itself, I suppose the facts I got were sufficient.
Saturday came, and with it came a death defying trip (literally…I almost died walking down the subway steps) to Target for pants. With it came the promise of a pocket filled with money. With it, dear readers, came a train ride to a part of Manhattan I had never previously been to and a walk to a building I had never seen. This particular Saturday brought with it an ipod music filled stand-and-wait in front this never-before-seen building in this as-of-yet-undiscovered-by-me place while texting my friend asking when he would arrive. I do enjoy my music.
Upon his arrival (5 o’clock on the dot), I met the rest of the team and we made our way into the building and the elevator. Up, up, up we went to the top floor. Was I prepared for what would be on the other side of the elevator door?
Shit, no…I most definitely was not.
The elevator’s side door opened not into a hallway but rather into the penthouse apartment. The owner (a genuinely nice if a little off kilter Australian man) was running around like a chicken without a head. A very tall molting chicken with a few lost marbles. He really was quite nice.
Either way, it turns out that he owns several restaurants in Manhattan including the one my friend currently works at full time. That’s how we all got involved in this gig to begin with. That said, that’s how this headless Australian chicken man could afford an apartment that spans the top two floors and private roof access of a building. We approximated his place to be in the $12,000 a month range, and he seemed like he wasn’t hurting for money one bit.
Chicken tossed us his credit card then proceeded to recite a laundry list of things he forgot and needed taken care of before his guests began to arrive…in just an hour and a half. Champagne flutes, pillar candles (to fill the ample candle lanterns he didn’t forget to stock up on), silverware, mixers for the drinks that we would be preparing and serving, the remainder of the dishes for his 50 or so dinner guests. While two of our collective went out to hunt down the party things, I stayed behind with our loverly bartender to assist in the set up of the party itself. Furniture needed to be moved, places needed to be set, alcohol needed arranging and a myriad of other things that wealthy Chicken hadn’t bothered to arrange before now. You would think a surprise birthday for your girlfriend would warrant more forethought, but maybe that's just me.
I was designated ‘candle guy’ by wealthy headless Chicken, once they arrived of course, and was set to the task of arranging all of the flame based lighting for the entire apartment. Slowly, other friends of Chicken arrived to help out with the rooftop tent castle. Really, the roof was transformed into a heated ice palace. Despite having a rooftop, there were so many people that once everyone got seated we had no room to walk around and serve. With the help of the more congenial guests, we were able to pass plates around and make it work.
The evening went smoothly enough. I got to pop out onto Chicken’s balcony a few times and enjoy the view of Soho streets. When the guests were done eating, several serving plates went untouched. So my cohorts and I, while cleaning up after dinner, tried some of the tasty left behinds. They were literally going to toss it down the chute once we were done cleaning. We would probably have to toss it ourselves. My soul was breaking. Not to mention the fact that all I had eaten this Saturday was some McDonald’s. Might as well appreciate the chef’s hard work, right?
We ended up at Chicken’s place until 12 o’clock in the morning (washing dishes, cleaning up drink spills, rewashing dishes that the guests kept taking and dirtying again) at which point my friend and fearless leader collected our payment (personal checks that Chicken wanted us to fill out for ourselves), we slipped over to the elevator and left the partiers to their party.
My friend bought us drinks as a thank you for filling in, and we all talked about our crazy night.
“I wish someone would throw me a party like that,” said queeny gay boy as he massaged his calves under the table. We had been on our feet for a good long while.
“I wish I could throw someone a party like that,” I said before taking another sip of beer.
Maybe someday. I’m already a bit eccentric, so I think I’ll fit in with the wealthy. For now, I’m happy with my soul pleasing part time job and freelancing for the headless Australian chickens of the world. Life is nothing if not interesting, dear readers, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.