I’ve always been a leader. I’m a natural. I usually know what’s right and how it should be done, and I make sure everyone else knows I know it, too.
For years I made my living as an event planner: meetings, weddings, conferences, parties, others’ lives. I was good at it — especially the planning and bossing people around to make thing happen. I began at an early age and have lots of practice.
When my sister and I were very young, I’d dress her up and make her my foil in a variety of one-act plays we presented to my parents on Sunday nights. Like our circus, when my sister was the elephant with a ruffle around her neck (think Dumbo). I was the ring mistress in a cute little tutu, with my baton and a top hat we acquired on one of our many trips to Goodwill for dress-up clothes. The plot was simple: I barked orders, hit her with my baton, and she danced and stood on her front “legs” while I bowed, smiled, and took the applause. The end.
Not much later, I was organizing the girls in my 2nd grade class to present regular skits (much to the annoyance of the boys). A favorite was the line of us marching in, out and around desks, shoving them out of our way as we sang “The ants go marching one by one. Hurrah! Hurrah!” (Too bad I didn’t think of pink tutus.)
By fourth grade, I was organizing the neighborhood kids in talent shows for our parents, held in the Whitley’s back yard. I had total control (pushy, pushy) over costumes, talent choices, songs, everything, including supervising Dale and John who were designated to hold up the stage curtains for all the acts. Until they decided they were tired and fed up, dropped everything and walked out. The show was saved by a dazzling performance of “You are my sunshine” with Judy and I in costumes we created from old green and white curtains.
In my partying years, I held themed events. Like the one in the 90s where we celebrated California’s impending fall into the ocean (supposedly based on a prediction by Edward Cayce) — taking off for a weekend to my dad’s cabin in the mountains, far from the coast. One night we all had to dress as we wanted to be remembered when California slipped away. That ended with one guy wearing my sister’s yellow bikini and floating around the pond in a life raft singing “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.” Don’t ask, I don’t know.
There have been bigger events in my career, like the conference of doctors whose favorite workshop was one on sigmoidoscopy with model butts where they could, I guess, scope to their heart’s content. Or, the going away party I planned for Wally (you remember him from the recommendation letter he wrote me) with a meat locker theme. All the tables were covered in butcher paper splattered in “blood” and there were canning jar centerpieces with gross “parts” floating in goop. Guests, who were given bloody butcher aprons to wear, mostly stood while eating and looking askance of those who joined Wally by actually sitting at one of the disgusting tables. Go figure.
I no longer make a living at it, so I’m back to pressing others into service of my creative energy, my husband mostly. He finds my weekend chores list less an example of my exceptional organizing skills, however, and more the concrete evidence of my ability to push and bully. I still can’t understand why he has to argue with me, every time, over how the garage should be organized. I’ve certainly made the point often enough that I know the right way to do it.