Happy Birthday, Boss!


Remember my friend Amy from The Dinner Club? Well, I promised another story about her. Actually, I said I would tell you about her wedding, and I will do that – eventually. Today, I’m going to tell you about how I came to know her and about a party that became one of the defining moments of her career – and mine.

When we met, I had been working for a very prominent attorney in the city for a number of years, and Amy had come onboard as his executive assistant. She was very funny and entertaining. Her work ethic left a lot to be desired, but she managed to get along on her personality.

I have to tell you that our boss was one of the most kind, thoughtful, generous, and wise men I have ever met. Really, he was one of a kind. My mother used to say that big people are big in every way, and he was an example of that.

It came to pass that this man, who was nationally recognized by the American Bar as one of the top specialists in his particular field of law was approaching a milestone birthday. The partners of the firm decided to throw a party for him.

As his assistant, Amy insisted on handling all the arrangements, have the invitations printed, menu planned, etc. The partners didn’t care, because they weren’t really interested in the nuts and bolts of party planning, and the hours weren’t billable. However, those of us who had attended her wedding didn’t think this was a wise choice. Trust me.

The assistant of the second-in-command expressed her concerns to her boss, and what was his reaction? Right. Since I was friendly with her, I was assigned the task of overseeing the plans. Amy was very territorial about this, and would take great umbrage at the suggestion of her lack of, oh, shall we say…taste?

I sat down with her with a to-do list. First, I wanted to talk about the invitations. She had it covered. She was going to call his daughter to get pictures of him as a baby, and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get a picture of him as a bare-assed baby on a rug and have “BOB IS 60!!!!

Me: Uh, maybe something a little more dignified. How about this heavy ivory stock with a nice font? The man is like, a giant in his field. I think we should go low-key.

Amy: That is so boring!

I could see that this was going to be a problem. Next, the venue. She told me she was going to go with a place she got married. Why? Free meatballs. Honest to God, free meatballs.

Me: Forget the meatballs, Ame. Even if they scraped the crud off the pipes in the unisex bathroom, I don’t think that is the place for this event.

I’m not exactly the queen of class, but really? Chickie’s?

We finally settled on a nice restaurant on the waterfront. Next, the menu. She thought family-style was the way to go. Again, no. She agreed to give guests a choice of beef, chicken, or fish on the reply card. Everything was a negotiation.

This is pretty much how it went, until finally, we had a date, tasteful invitations, a lovely venue, a nice menu, passed hot and cold hor d’oeuvres, waiters strolling through the crowd with champagne, full open bar, and a nice band to play a variety of music. Money was no object.

The evening finally came and everything was going well. I was a wreck. I knew. I knew something would go wrong. Of course, I had a few drinks (ok, more than a few) and relaxed a bit. It was all going well. We got through the meal, the guests were enjoying the music, dancing, and food, until it was time to roll out the cake. The lights went out and two waiters rolled it out.

It was a penis cake. A drooping penis cake. With about 112 candles. I’ve never seen anything like it. Neither had anyone else. The cake was accompanied with a card of punch-out Viagra.

The boss tried to make the best of this, made a wish (probably wishing for my death) and blew them out. By this time, Amy was shit-faced drunk, and I was looking for another drink myself. The boss blew out the candles and it was time for him to say a few words to the guests. He started out with thanking all for attending, when Amy stood up and yelled, “TELL THEM ABOUT ST. LOUIS!!!!”

He had never been to St. Louis.

All that planning, all that worry, all that work was snuffed out in an instant, and if you can believe it, it all went downhill from there. The birthday boy’s girlfriend was pissed because she thought he had been to St. Louis, having a fling with his assistant. She walked out, and he followed her, neither of them to be seen again that evening. The band kept playing, and all I could think of is how the band kept playing on the Titanic.

Of course, this all became my fault. I had neglected to think of the cake. The second-in-command marched into my office on Monday morning and actually said, “How could you have let this happen? This was a horrible embarrassment to the firm!”

I’M ONLY ONE WOMAN! What do you want from me?

Was she tainted? No. I was. This is the story or my life.

Amy eventually was fired because she was a terrible assistant, but God, was she funny, and totally nuts. As much as it made me look bad, I have no bad feeling about her. She made me laugh. She still does and that is worth a lot to me.