Go ahead; call me names. I can take it.
Long story short; I have been sort of catering a Christmas party for some clients of my sister’s for about eight years now (and she asked me to specify that they are clients of my sister’s house cleaning business, not of her troubled-kids business. Boundaries and propriety and all that). They do most of the preparation – well, from what I can tell, LINDA does most of the preparation; I’m not sure to what extent Sarah is involved – and I swoop in just as the guests are arriving so that Linda can get the hell out of her kitchen and in with her friends. I finish the cooking while whomever I bring with me – either a girlfriend or Mr. Chili – goes out into the throng and pours water and makes sure that everyone has a drink. Then, just before dinner is ready, we plate whatever appetizer or salad Linda planned, and while my cohort is out delivering those, I get to putting the dinner plates together. My counterpart clears the appetizer plates and brings out the dinner plates while I get to cleaning everything up (which usually involves washing whatever the appetizers went out on because we’ll need those plates for dessert). Then I get coffee brewing and start washing glassware. Once dinner’s over and dessert is cleared away, I load as much as I can into the dishwasher, wash by hand everything else that either can’t be washed by machine or won’t fit into the machine, then I take my tired ass and go home.
For all that it sounds like a drag, it’s something I look forward to every year. First of all, I really LIKE Linda and Sarah – they are funny and smart and really, really kind. Second, they pay me obscenely well. First, Linda brings me a cheque in a Christmas card, then, all secret-like and stealthy, Sarah comes in a few minutes later with ANOTHER cheque, because she’s convinced that Linda doesn’t pay me enough. They practically force me to make a plate for myself and my coworker, and we’re often sent home with some sort of extra goody – a half a cake, for example, or a couple of leftover bottles of wine. It’s fun, I enjoy it, and over the years, I’ve gotten very, very good at managing dinner for 25 people at once.
Okay – so maybe this is a long story long…
ANYWAY, I woke up in the DEAD of night a few days ago. As I laid there, wondering why the hell I wasn’t sleeping, I “heard” someone ask me what Linda and Sarah had planned on the menu this year.
“Why does it matter?” I thought.
“Shellfish” was the answer.
I actually argued with the Universe. “I’ve been doing this party for upwards of eight years,” I said, “and they’ve never ONCE had so much as crabmeat puffs for appetizers.”
“There’s a first time for everything.”
(please note that there wasn’t an actual CONVERSATION going on in my head – I’ll admit to being weird, but not that weird. It’s all very impressionistic and intuitive but, since I needed a way of getting it out of my head and into yours, this is as close as I could get to the feel of the thing.)
I pretty much dismissed it as me being over-tired and tried to roll over and go back to sleep.
Fast forward to Wednesday night. I’m driving home from my class when the girls popped back into my head. I got more negative impressions, and the strong message that I should at least call them. Sigh. “FINE!” I promised I’d listen when I was guided, so I pulled out the iPhone, found Linda in my directory, and left this lame-ass message on the girls’ machine:
“Hi, Ladies! It’s Chili. Listen, this is going to come off sounding all airy-faerie, but I need to find out what you have on the menu this year. The Universe has been warning me that you’re planning to serve shellfish, and if that’s so, then I have a problem. Call me back, would you? Kay. Thanks! Bye!”
This morning, Linda emailed me back with this:
“Are scallops considered shellfish?”
I responded with yes, they are, and that is a problem because I’m super-crazy, wicked allergic. So allergic that I reacted to the shells on the beach at Sanibel. So allergic that Mr. Chili won’t eat shrimp cocktail at parties where I’m in attendance. So allergic that I can’t eat the fries at seafood restaurants becuase they’re fried in the same oil as the clams.
Linda considered changing her menu, but in the end decided to find someone else to help her this year. I suggested she get in touch with TCC to see if there are any culinary students who might be available (I can’t recommend anyone directly this term because all my kids are in the photography and graphic arts programs).
I would have HATED to have to leave Linda and Sarah in a lurch when I walked in on the night of their big party and discovered that I would have to walk right back out again because of my allergy. It turns out that the Universe, persistent bitch that she is, really does look after me very, very well.