I am in the business of romance.
Am I a sex therapist, a lingerie designer, an erotic novel writer? No dears, none of these things, but when it comes to romance, I am far more powerful.
You see I am a wedding caterer.
In a typical workday, I plan or execute what may be the most important day in someone's life or at least his or her romantic life.
Being in charge of someone's wedding is not like being in charge of his or her office Christmas party. No one looks back thirty years later at the photo album for their office Christmas party.
It can be an awesome burden.
To be a good wedding caterer, it helps to know how to cook great food, but to be perfectly honest; a psychotherapy license would be more useful.
Were I a therapist, I would declare my findings of a new form of temporary psychosis called I-am-getting-married-itis.
I have seen it all, -- the bride who asked that I promise her that her wedding would continue were I killed in a car accident. She was not joking; she wanted it added as an addendum to her contract.
Then there was the bride who called me every day for a year just to make sure I had not run off to Mexico with her wedding deposit.
Oh, and the bride who freaked out when she discovered that I had had the audacity to go on vacation three months before her wedding, because, you know, once you hire a caterer, they should not be allowed to venture more then ten miles away until after the wedding. It's surprising that none of my brides have asked me to wear an electronic anklet that would beep the moment I stepped past that 10-mile limit.
There was also the bride who insisted we fire the florist because the florist had been divorced. Only happily married contractors were allowed to contribute to her special day, or at least no one who had been divorced. She feared that marriage-gone-sour might be contagious.
Then there is the other mental illness: is-there-any-human-way-this-could-be-cheaper-itis. Couples and/or their parents with this disorder cannot rest until they have explored every possible avenue to haggle their caterer down in price. "Why can't we have the fish for half price? You're only serving the filet. That's only half the fish!" Hmmm well I can throw in some lovely heads-or-tails too, if you really want your money's worth! Sheesh!
It would not hurt if a wedding caterer were a former secretary of state. When the bride's father is no longer speaking to the bride's mother, and the groom's brother owes the groom's best man money, it takes a superhuman ability to instill enough Zen to get these folks to huddle together for family photos. Short of drugging their champagne, a wedding caterer needs to make the feuding bridal party members feel cared for and listened to, and yet still be able to order them into place like a drill sergeant: "Mother-of-the-bride you look gorgeous, now get in line!"
Above all, a caterer must have a MacGyver-esque ability to troubleshoot emergencies.
There was the bride and groom who left their vows in another state. Try entertaining 150 guests without serving the food and without actually letting them get drunk for two hours! I was two steps from singing show tunes in the voice of Katharine Hepburn.
There was the best man whose five-minute speech lasted 45 minutes while the food waited. Keeping dinner warm for an extra 45 minutes without overcooking it is akin to juggling chainsaws.
There was the maid of honor who insisted on dancing on top of the raw bar. Several large cousins were enlisted to cart her away. Interestingly, it did not even slow down the mass consumption of shrimp.
There was the uncle of the groom who tried to eat the buffet centerpiece. We gently coaxed him away like a hungry German shepherd using a huge steak.
That last one, by the way, reminds me of another mental illness that tends to strike wedding guests: oh-my-god-what-if-i-do-not-eat-enough-itis. This is the reason we now put screens around cupcake towers. No matter how clear it is that the tower is the wedding cake, with bride and groom figurines on top, no matter the decency with which we tell guests "Do not touch this tower. It is for the cake-cutting ceremony!" guests with oh-my-god-what-if-i-do-not-eat-enough-itis will tell themselves things like, "Maybe if I just take one from the back." Nevermind that these guests have completed two trips to the buffet. Would it kill them to leave the cupcakes alone? The answer ... is the reason we now rent the protective screens, and I am looking into pitbull rentals, as well.
So why am I a wedding caterer, given all this?
Hmmmm. I guess it's that moment at the end of the night when the bride and groom come into the kitchen beaming and yell things like, "You have given us our dream come true!" Or, more often, given that my clients are closer to Brooklyn hipster then Martha Stewart, "The peanut butter and bacon rocked man!"
Peanut butter and bacon, by the way, do rock, but really who needs an Oscar after that?
So this MacGyver, Sigmund Freud, Hillary Clinton, sauce making lady is gonna continue catering up a storm and when life happens, as it always does, I will simply say, "Bring it on ... and don't skimp on the croutons!"
I am in the business of romance.