It was a bad pairing. A terrible pairing. In fact, it may have been the worst pairing in the history of catering.
The captain for the fateful event is Hiram Shalefsky - widely known in the catering industry as a very reasonable man. Some would even describe him as “fair but firm”.
But, alas, this was not to be his day.
Nothing in the day could have foreshadowed such a terrifying calamity. A picture perfect mid-June day, the charter bus taking us from the city to the event on Long Island arrives with plenty of time to spare, there were no MIA’s among the catering staff - a truly harmonious group ( and multi-ethnic at that!) if there ever were one - genuine comraderie here. Everybody that is - except two people.
The first omen of trouble, however, arrived in the form of horrendous weekend beachgoer traffic - rendering us almost two hours late for the event at CW Post! A flurry of desperate activity immediately followed, as miraculously, the band of waiters courageously banded together to somehow set up the entire room - 50 tables - just minutes before the start of the event!
Valiantly battling the ticking clock, Hiram Shalefsky nimbly made his way down the roster of waiters, mentally noting the particular strengths of each of the waiters he was pairing up for the 50 tables. Almost, that is, except for two tables. There were two names left - names which Hiram Shalefsky hoped to avoid. And they were the last two tables - 49 and 50 - the tables which were the absolute furthest from the kitchen for serve -out!
The names were - Jethro Fury - a blond, hulking good ole boy from deep in the heart of Alabama, known as much for his mercurial temper as for his love of possum hunting.
The other is Prince LeVonne - a muscular, extremely angry black militant, who everyone also thought was gay, except, oddly enough, himself.
There were only moments left before the commencement of the party - an alumni fundraiser for CW Post - a predominantly Catholic crowd whose main tenet was : God. Country. Family. It didn’t take long for the muttering, griping and fireworks between the two to begin. Then one of them dropped a plate on the floor - we didn’t know exactly which one - but this exchange immediately followed.
Jethro: “That’s it! Get this boy outta here! I’m doing all the work here!”
Prince: “Oh yeah, cracker? I’ll kick your mo’fucking ass all the way back to Appalachia, or wherever it is you rednecks come from!”
Jethro: “Boy, I’ll hunt your darkie ass down and shoot you like it’s coon season…”
And so it went…each trip back and forth to the kitchen a new adventure in hatred. Hiram Shalefsky tried to intervene, but, really, there was not much he could do. He had the whole weight of running the event as smoothly as possible fall on his shoulders.
Meanwhile, Gwendlyn LaFarge - the owner of our company sat in the kitchen knitting - a scene comparable to Nero fiddling while Rome burned.
It was a day that would go down in the annals of catering history.