Promenading Through History

Everyone spotted them immediately (and I hope I don’t embarrass them by saying so). The young couple, and he matched her with a colorful vest and tie under his tuxedo, she was in the most amazing shade of teal green. Her dress fluttered against the floor and I was in complete agreement when the photographers posed them on the stairs to highlight its length and ability to cascade (it’s not too often in life you have the opportunity to wear a dress that “cascades” down the stairs).

It was prom night and after all the up-dos and gowns were assembled and the corsages (matched wonderfully, good job, boyfriends), the Pfister was the backdrop for the essential parental photo shoot. Two moms, armed with digital lenses, were squeezing this adorable young couple into every corner, every angle and every stairway they could find. The pair was truly promenading through the lobby. I was particularly fond of the impromptu shot taken on a luggage rack, squeezing the teens in close together. Camera clicked, photo taken, and the gentleman’s trusty cell phone came out and texting began. The scene was perfect.

I had to make sure my guess was right—the photographers were the mother of the girl and the mother of the boy, respectively. When I asked, they both agreed, though they took little time to talk to me as the students had just found a new perfect location and a photographer’s (mom’s) work is never done.

A few minutes later, more teen red-carpet readys came down the steps and now commenced group shots—with more moms.

I remember being photographed for my school dances—by both families. I remember feeling awkward and angry that it was taking so long. I remember wishing they’d be done with it already, the corsage was itchy, the boning in my dress felt strange and there was uncomfortable couples dancing (aka “swaying”) to be done. I smiled as I watched the young dates go through the same process—only the backdrop wasn’t a recently vacuumed living room, but rather a historic hotel. I wondered if I would have liked my photo sessions any better had they been at the Pfister. I wondered how many of the girls secretly thought “maybe this could work as a modeling shot?” I wonder how many will return, having made this memory. Tomorrow they won’t remember the hotel or the pictures as much as the dance, the dates, the snacks, the drama…but later, looking back, which part will stick? The grand staircases? Their mother’s excitement? The boyfriends may come and go, but these photos will be dragged out frequently. Their fiancé will see them; their children will take a look. The dresses won’t be in fashion anymore (though of course, once pulled out for their grandchildren, the style will surely have come around again), hairstyles will get a chuckle…but the Pfister will be the same.

I’m jealous of the girls who were being photographed on perhaps the most beautiful night of their lives so far. It was like a movie to watch them descend the stairs while the shutters clicked. I’m just as jealous of the mothers, though. They knew what they were doing. They know how to treasure a moment because they’ve had so many more than these young men and women. They didn’t feel awkward or embarrassed taking over the space. They didn’t mind telling the teens just where to stand. They knew just what they were capturing and years later, they’ll be thanked for it.

Anatomy of Giving

        My after work cocktail turned instantly into a lesson in event coordinating and I learned there’s no better school than the prep hour before a celebrity Blu-Tender event at the Pfister’s Blu. 

        I arrived very early and witnessed an incredible transformation. See, find I’m a part of many charity and fundraising events myself. I’ve been on the “Who has the nametags?” end of things, the “We need a 9-volt battery, stat” side of the event and the “What do you mean our host/guest of honor/celebrity’s flight didn’t come in?” fringe of fiasco. Now, here I was, witnessing the breakdown and build up of an event like a fly on the wall, ailment or maybe more like a monkey on the wall because I think my grinning and darting glances around the room at all the players and organizers weren’t too subtle.
        The ladies at the bar weren’t there for the autism event, they were simply sharing an after-work drink (and cholesterol numbers and worries, which I thought was perfectly acceptable as they sipped their red wine). The couple in the corner was enjoying the view and had bypassed the first few steps of having drink at Blu* and were easily engaging each other. The white-haired man in the pair talks with his hands and the story moves from wiggling fingers to double-handed expansive gestures which then incorporate his shoulders and he finishes with a head bob and a smile, purchase dancing through one fantastic tale of gardening. He moves on to the next topic, one hand paralyzed by the drink he holds, he executes the details with an overactive pointer finger. They are not there for the evening’s event. 

            The next couple that walks in is. And the next, and the next. The gorgeous pair in crisp summertime looks, egging on our warm weather and full of wishful thinking, sneaks in the back and the woman, tugging at the man, strides into the middle and looks cautiously around, asking “where are people?” and immediately answers her question with an outstretched arm and a dragged-along husband as she crosses the bar to the others who are now pouring in the main entrance to the bar. 
             There’s a singer. You’ll know her by her sparkle. Big jeweled, glittery studs adorn her cardigan and though she spends most of her prep time worrying about her three microphones, her voice, unamplified, booms through the room as she works the early crowd with jokes and pushes them to start drinking and donating. She’s a natural, and she’s not just ready to make a great evening, she’s clearly in it to fundraise. She’s got plans with the bartenders, the charity staff and more. She doesn’t just sing; she strikes a perfect chord with donors. 
            Men with pins start arriving with their wives. Lion’s Club, Rotary, American Legion and the blue autism support ribbon pin. Suit jackets and loafers and big grins and handshakes that come with pats on the back for free—the crowd is arriving. A battery for the microphone is found, the wireless mic is on the ready and the singer is threatening folks with it—order a drink (proceeds to charity) or she’ll be over to your table to incorporate you in her act. It’s ten minutes after the start time for the event and the population of the room has tripled. Ten minutes later, it’s a party. The bar top is full, literature on the cause is everywhere, organizers have passed out nametags and the bartending talent has arrived. This is the moment I love the most when it’s an event I’m organizing. It’s that moment where I step back and sigh and start having fun, that moment where it’s all worth it.
            I’m sure it will be worth it, too. The faces and eagerness of attendees were bright and ready. The cause was one everyone was ready to champion. The music, the drinks, the scene…all perfect. And just as I left them to their charitable partying, the sun made ready to set. 

*it should be mentioned, all people who come into Blu perform similarly. Step 1: take a seat at the windows; Step 2: watch out the windows to the point of nearly fully ignoring your compatriots because the view is so amazing (but that’s ok, they’re ignoring you for the same reason) and Step 3: after the scenic sensory overload hits, then begin relaxing and enjoying your company.