Friday, February 03, 2012

living the high life

Last year, a few weeks before I was put in the hospital, I took a business trip to Boston. Fifteen people were on the trip and I was tasked with lining up activities for our team to do at night. One evening, I planned to take everyone to a Red Sox game. On another evening, I arranged for us to have dinner at an upscale restaurant in town.

When I called the restaurant to ask if they had a private room for our party, they said yes, but there would be a $1,000.00 food and beverage minimum, that would require a 24-hour cancellation. That shouldn't be a problem, I thought. Seeing as there were 15 of us and we'd all want to eat dinner.

(At least theoretically.)

On the night of the dinner, seven of us gathered in the hotel lobby and walked together to the restaurant. As we walked, I began to receive text messages from various colleagues who informed me that for one reason or another, they wouldn't be able to attend.

By the time we arrived at the restaurant, our headcount had shrunk from fifteen to seven. Once we were escorted to our beautiful private room, that was elegantly set for our entire party, I summoned our personal waiter and told him that our numbers were down. He smiled, but then politely informed me that unfortunately, we still had a $1,000.00 food and beverage minimum and maybe we'd like to start with an appetizer, or twelve?

My first thought was that we'd order extra meals to go which we'd hand out to some of the people we'd seen on the street. But that, I was told, wasn't an option. So I moved on to option two which consisted of me sharing with my six colleagues our TERRIBLE predicament.

The waiter began taking orders and when he asked one of my cohorts if he would prefer the filet mignon or lobster, my co-worker paused, then smiled and said, "I think I'll have the filet AND the lobster!" When the waiter whispered to me that we still wouldn't meet the minimum, we bumped up our wine from the "house" to the "reserve collection". The whole situation struck me as so lavishly funny, I excused myself from the table and went in to the restroom, where I called Charlie.

Our conversation went something like this …

"Charlie, OH MY GOSH, you'll never believe it!! We're in this absolutely beautiful restaurant in downtown Boston and more than half of our party bailed out. But since we still have a food and beverage minimum to sit in the private dining room with our own personal waiter, we're ordering filet mignons AND lobster and drinking gorgeous bottles of wine and trying to figure out how to spend $1,000 across seven people for dinner. One of the guys just ordered an entire bottle of single malt scotch. Ha ha ha ha HA!!"


There was silence on the other end of the line.

Finally, my husband spoke up.

"Jen, are you kidding me? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT I HAD FOR DINNER TONIGHT? I had a soggy taco because one of the kids spilled their milk ON MY PLATE. I would've had another taco but that was the LAST SHELL IN THE HOUSE. You know what I ate, next because I was so hungry my stomach was consuming my body? A tunafish sandwich on a stale english muffin, because we're out of bread. So I'd really rather not hear about your OH HA HA HA HA HA we've got a thousand dollars to spend in a TOP CLASS RESTAURANT woes while I'm at home trying to suppress my gag reflex!"

Then, for good measure he yelled, "WHAT'S THAT THING FLOATING IN MY WATER?!"

His diatribe only made me laugh harder.

I could just seem him trying to drain milk off his plate and who knows what was floating in his water. I once found a huge wad of PlayDoh at the bottom of my orange juice.

My opinion, as I later expressed it, is that he has the luxury of staying home everyday, while I'm carving years off my life in a very high pressure corporate headquarter environment. So a fancy dinner once in a blue moon, is extremely well deserved.

This past week, Charlie was on a business trip. I'm not going to chronicle the insane week that I've had (at least not tonight), but suffice it to say, it's been "a wee bit challenging" without my better half. I've been absolutely buried in an extremely stressful project that has been consuming me for approximately 12 hours a day (several weekends included). This "project" is the whole reason I was brought in to this job and the whole reason I'm strategizing my escape as soon as possible. Like, Monday, perhaps.

Nonetheless, on our about day four of Charlie's absence, I was cleaning up a dog spill from the kitchen floor (the bell on the door trick works only if your dog doesn't EAT THE BELL), burning spaghetti (yes, indeed it is possible!), neglecting my children's homework for the … well, fourth day straight … and feeling the familiar cloak of stress descend over my entire body, the phone rang.

It was Charlie.

His voice sounded like he was relaxing on a beach chair in the tropics.

My voice sounded like I was fending off a nervous breakdown, or "normal" as the case may be.

Alas, he was calling to tell me that he was in a restaurant. And not just any restaurant, Jen, the fanciest restaurant in the tiny California town where he was visiting. This surprised me since he owns his company, he typically tries to minimize his expenses.

Then with an air of sophistication, he told me the restaurant was called, "Bee Apples" or "Apple Bees" or something of that nature. My beloved wanted for me to know that he had just ordered a soup and a salad to go with his $11.00 chicken entree. And since he was the only person in the restaurant, he had his own personal waiter. I would have heard more about his decadent evening, but I had to hang up because smoke was billowing from the stove top.

Revenge sure is sweet.

Especially when it's served up with a side of honey mustard.