A relative (HMC) has just had a book published. It is a disease-related work and was published through the auspices of the international association researching and supporting people with the disease. HMC has suffered from said disease for a few years and has had significant changes to her life as a result. Authoring this book was a huge
deal for her so I was thrilled for her. All of this is fine, but the launch celebration was just excruciating.
The launch party was held at a fancy Beverly Hills hotel. The date and timing were pretty inconvenient, but this is December and those sorts of venues get booked pretty fully with holiday parties. So, ok, they had to take what they could get. I was told to expect an invitation and the day and time of the event. At that time I mentioned that it was a difficult day for me, but I would try to work it out.
The invitation arrived 8 days before the party and one day
before the rsvp and check for tickets was due. Since there was no way to return the rsvp card and check in time I called the organization, said I would attend with a friend and would pay at the door. I also told them I am the author's relative and, per her request, we should be seated at her table. I was told ok.
The day before the party I got a phone call from HMC's husband. They were working on the seating plan and saw a name they thought was mine, but was so badly mispelled he thought he should make sure. I confirmed that I would attend, per my rsvp, but that my friend had run into a problem and would be unable to join us. I realize that this was a celebration/fund-raiser and they were obligated to pay for the number they had guaranteed even for no-shows. I was prepared to pay for the unused ticket. So, great, they were thrilled that I could come and they would seat me at their table.
Party day I struggle into panty hose and a dress, drive for over an hour and arrive at the hotel. After surrendering my car to the valet (parking on the street in that neighborhood is severely restricted) I located the party area, paid for the 2 tickets I ordered and entered the room. I was welcomed by HMC gushing about how glad she was to see me, how much she appreciated me coming yadda, yadda. She pointed the way to her table and turned to greet some other guests. When I got to the table I hugged her mom and DH and looked for my seat. There were 10 seats at the table and 10 place cards. None of the placecards had my name on them. OhhhhhKaaaaay. Mix-up in the seating. So, I went to the check-in table to ask for my table assignment. Guess what, I was not assigned to any
table. I was definitely on the rsvp list but not on the table list. Now, it's getting awkward. The girl at check-in is embarrased, I'm thinking "Huh?"
and wondering if I should just forget about it and go Christmas shopping instead. One of the organizers overheard the conversation and said she had a seat for me at another table. She showed me to a seat, quickly grabbed the placecard and goody bag that was on the chair and asked me to sit there. I thought she was giving up her own seat, and I didn't want her to do that. She assured me that it was not her seat but a last-minute cancellation, so ok.
After I sat down I noticed some of the others looking at copies of the book. I had seen proofs so I was anxious to see the real thing. When I asked where the books were I was told that only the people who were profiled in the book got copies of the book. That was odd...the invitation clearly stated that an autographed copy of the book was included in the ticket price...but maybe they hadn't gotten their full shipment yet and there were not enough to go around. So again, ok, nothing to freak about.
I'd been sitting at the table for a while when HMC comes over saying "we want you to come sit at our table." I replied that all the seats at her table were reserved for others. "I know, but they're not here, and we want you with us." Ok, so I follow her to her table where she tells me to sit next to her mom. Note: That seat had a placecard reserving it for Famous Fashion Maven (FFM). I asked if she was sure and she replied in the affirmative. By now I'm really uncomfortable but trying to make nice, bringing plates from the buffet for HMC and her mom, chatting with the others , etc. I had almost finished my own lunch when who walks in but FFM. Oh-oh. I'm in his seat. I quickly remove my plate, cutlery, napkin and cup to the next vacant seat and move the un-used plate, cutlery etc. back to FFM's original seat. I had barely finished that when in strolls FFM's boyfriend. Now, I'm sitting in *his* place. Once again I jumped up, moved my stuff to a seat that had been vacated by a guest who'd left early, and asked the waiter to bring a fresh place setting for boyfriend. (BF) They sat down, plates were fetched from the buffet for them and I arranged with the Maitre D' for a fresh pot of tea for FFM and BF. I returned from that errand to find another woman in my seat. So I have to move again. By the time I landed in my fifth seat of the afternoon I was really wishing I hadn't even bothered to attend.
So the party progresses, conversation about the book is going on all around and HMC's DH mentions that the association will be mailing a copy of the book to everyone who bought tickets and attended. Hmmm, strange that they would waste money mailing 125 books when they could have handed them to the people who were right there. But, maybe they didn't have enough?
A few minutes later one of the organizers announces that if anyone wanted to buy additional copies of the book they had stacks of them available for sale in the back of the room. Whaaaaattt?
?!!!!!!!!!!! They're mailing the books you were supposed to get with your ticket, but you could pay for and receive additional copies on the spot. On what planet does this make sense?
Anyway, back to book talk and I asked HMC if she had begun work on her next book yet. She turned to BF and tells him that I had been really supportive of her and was encouraging her to write a series of books. He smiled and I then asked him if he also thought she had material for more than one book. His reply: "I've been wanting FFM to write another book." He totally blew her off at her own party, and wouldn't even look me in the face. FFM, by the way, had studiously ignored me the whole time even though I finally ended up sitting directly across from him. Maybe my outfit didn't meet his standards or maybe he was ticked that I had been sitting in his seat. Who knows? Who cares?
Ok, I had finally had enough so I made my good-byes and prepared to leave. HMC asks "where's your goody bag?" I replied that I didn't get one. (Maybe if I'd actually had my own seat I'd have had a goody bag too since they all had name tags on them that matched the placecards
.) "Oh". "Let me make sure that you at least get a book." She did pick up a book, sign it (just her name, no personalization) and hand it to me. I blew her a kiss and finally made my escape.
After ransoming my car to the tune of $17.00
I made my long, slow way home and finally got out of those &*%$# panty hose. What a relief! I'm out $117.00 and 5 hours of time that could have been better spent, but maybe I'll get karmic brownie points for trying to do the right thing.
The following day I returned home to a voicemail from HMC. She was so thankful that I had come, so happy that someone from the family other than her DM & DH had been there, it had been such an important day in her life and she's so glad that I could share it yadda, yadda, yadda. That's nice but I can't help wondering why, if I was so important to her, and she knew I was coming for sure, she didn't make sure I actually had a place to sit. Weird, just weird.