It Really Is a Small World After All

The lobby is packed with people. It’s prom season and dozens of couples have appeared to pose for photos together, even though the dance is being held elsewhere. Their dresses are brightly colored: sunny yellows, crisp greens, rich pinks and deep purples – embellished with crystalline drops or lacy embroidery. The bubbly nature of youth is contagious, and all are smiling. Suddenly, appearing at the entrance to grand applause, is a woman in the grandest gown of all: a bodice of pure white, encrusted with pearls, and billowing skirt clutched in one hand while her other hand grips a bouquet of white and purple irises. Rightfully so, a bride has stolen the show.

To my left, at one of the lobby tables just outside the lounge area, an elegantly beautiful woman in a black dress and pearls sits captivated by the parade of dresses. I catch her eye and we start conversing about the various styles, about the young men whose arms sport garters a la 1920s gangsters, and about our own reminiscences of proms 30 held years apart. We discover that we share a common love for ballroom dance, but before we can talk much more, a handsome gentleman appears and whisks her away for dinner elsewhere.

I move on, making my way through the crowd.

As I’m about to pass the bride, she reaches out and grabs my arm – “Hey! You’re Stacie, right?” She points towards the sign that bears my name and a photo, “You’re the narrator person?” Still a little thrown by this new approach to the position, I respond, “Yes” but don’t get any further than that before the bride says, “You know Lauren *****!?” The name sounds vaguely familiar, but it doesn’t register. My face is blank, so she repeats, “Lauren *****! She says she knows you – you guys worked at a camp or something?” and it clicks – ah, yes! I do know this person! Four years ago we worked at an all-girls summer camp together. I then become quite excited. The bride tugs me over to a group of young women in matching purple dresses and – sure enough – there she is, this wonderful person with whom I’d lost touch several years ago. We embrace. It turns out that she’s up from Indiana to be a bridesmaid in her cousin’s wedding and recognized my picture. We catch up briefly before she takes off for the reception – promises are made to keep in touch.

Not more than a few minutes have gone by when I run into someone I recognize from my other job working for a local bookstore. Eyes get bright, and the question “What are you doing here?” is answered by both parties. She’s here with her sisters for a belated Christmas gift from one sister to the others: a weekend at the Pfister complete with massages at WellSpa (“Incredible! It was so relaxing I almost fell asleep, but I didn’t because I wanted to enjoy it.”), dinner at Mason Street Grill, and drinks at Blu. We chat for a few minutes, connecting on a more personal level than we previously had in our other world of knowing one another.

Both of these re-connections then remind me of earlier in the week when, in Racine for a sporting team practice, I discovered one of my teammates had been the person who won the Pfister diamond necklace, given away by the hotel, earlier in the year. Throw in the fact that an artist friend I had lunch with this same day happens to know Shelby Keefe well – and it was as if the fates were simply waiting around the Pfister, intent on placing people directly into my path.

Rainy Milwaukee Night
Rainy Wisconsin Ave

A little later into the evening, while eying up the miserable November-like weather outside, I practically run right into the couple I met earlier while watching the crowd of prom-goers. We pick up talking as though we’d all three gone to dinner together, then make our way up to Blu for a cocktail or two. Anybody watching would have thought we’d known each other for years. As it happens, the Pfister “Pfates” aren’t simply trying to re-connect me, they’re trying to simply connect me. After making new friends this evening, I can’t wait to see who gets put in my path next.

YOUR TURN: What connections or re-connections have you made at the Pfister?

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.