Monday, June 23, 2008

total mentality

Today is my day off. I slept til almost noon. That is to say I slept off and on. Construction across the street begins early every morning. Last Monday one of those huge dump trucks began backing into place at 6:15... beep! beep! beep! That was it. I was up by 6:30. (Some day off.) But today it was already 7:20 before the clattering and pounding and beep beeping made its way into my consciousness. I pulled the pillow over my head and went back to sleep. Off and on.

Yesterday was a great day. My friend, the deacon's lovely daughter was married in the late afternoon and a huge gala reception was staged later in the evening at Chelsea Piers. It's been a while since I've been to a wedding, and I guess this was my first as a nun. There's not much difference... all the same smiles and tears for all the same reasons. The bride was resplendent and her mom and dad glowed with pride and joy. They have a wide and wonderful circle of friends and it was nice to reunite with people I haven't seen in a long time.

The posh reception was something else. I can't remember ever seeing (or eating) so much food in one place. First there were the appetizers... crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, chicken tidbits, watermelon dominoes, wine and beer and mixed drinks of all kinds. But wait, there's more... there were buffet tables with full-course-mini-meals... lamb, seafood risotto, salads and condiments... and the Asian buffets... dumplings, chicken katsu, beef and rice dishes and those styrofoam looking chips... I am a such a sucker for hors d'oeuvres. Even though I was warned that this was only the beginning, that a full sit-down dinner would follow... I ate everything I was offered. Yum. We were assigned tables and once the curtains were pulled and we were invited in, I found I was seated with a table full of friends... some I already knew, some I was just meeting. Music with a definite Latin flavor rocked the room and all those youngsters with all that energy to dance all night were out there in the thick of it.

Each place setting was surrounded by glasses... white wine glass, red wine glass, water goblet, champagne flute... and so many knives and forks and spoons that would have unnerved the most sophisticated diner. But everyone was relaxed and in a mood to party, not to notice who was using what utensil for which course. Except the wait staff. They carefully (and precisely) refolded each and every napkin that had been slung aside as people stopped mid-course and made their way to the dance floor. They continued to do this over and over again, all night. It made me laugh. it reminded me of myself... so persnickety about lining up the water glasses in the cupboard by glass shape and size. Even if another sister has already put the glasses away, I will stop and rearrange them in order. "I definitely have wait staff mentality," I thought to myself.

But not totally. A priest friend on my right, had arrived too late for the hors d'oeuvres. When the first course was served... delicate spring rolls with a mysterious contents that looked and tasted a bit like ham salad, (later we found out it was raw tuna) we gobbled them down in seconds. She was still hungry. So was I. An adjacent table was missing four of its occupants... I just exchanged our plates with two of the no shows. "I'm a nun. It's okay if I do this," I told the folks sitting there. They laughed. Did I mention that the attentive wait staff was also refilling our wine glasses every two minutes? I have no idea how much wine I actually consumed... it's hard to keep up when you take a swallow, look again, and your glass is still full.

By dessert you'd have thought I'd have been stuffed. Not on your life. Four more people at our own table left early so I did the plate shuffle once again for my friend and me... Hey! mini chocolate souffl├ęs with almond ice cream on the side. Who can resist hot and cold together? Not me. Besides, the food was already paid for. I figure we were simply making sure our friend got his money's worth. "I definitely have a thief's mentality," I thought.

Close to midnight the party was still going strong, but my Cinderella genes were warning "pumpkin" so my priest friend and I said our goodbyes and best wishes. With the blessing of the father of the bride we each snagged a centerpiece from two of the empty tables and walked out boldly carrying our spoils. What a hoot. A priest and a nun copping the flowers at our best friend's daughter's wedding. On my way home a homeless man hollered at me. "Sister! How did you know I needed some flowers?" I handed him one. "Just lucky, I guess." And smiled. All the way home.

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