Ten years ago we launched with our first contest, The Coffeeshop Chronicles: Oh! the Places I have Bean! Our contestant here submitted to that contest, which got got her on her way to being nominated for not only the Pulitzer, but Nobel Prize as well, if my memory serves me well. So she has come back to enter this contest, which like our inaugural contest promises to publish in hard copy the best entries. Maybe yours? Georgia Hubley has a list of publications at the conclusion of this story (I was CERTAIN I saw Pulitzer and Nobel among them…hmmnn.)
Here is her contribution to our contest, Something to Wine About.
Drum Roll, the Butler Did It
By Georgia A. Hubley
My husband clinked my glass of wine, “To a terrific first year in our new digs, my great job and the creative geniuses that make me shine,” he smirked.
I knew that smirk…mischief and mayhem were afoot. To beat the winter doldrums, he decided to throw an impromptu dinner party for his employees. “All they’ll have to bring is a white elephant gift.”
“I’ll prepare enough lasagna, salad and garlic bread to feed an army,” I chuckled as I recalled the group’s previous parties at our home.
There were ten people in my husband’s close-knit marketing group. Counting plus-ones, there’d be twenty guests. They were a thoughtful bunch, never arriving at the door empty-handed. They’d bring an appetizer or a dessert, a bottle of wine, and an outlandish white elephant gift, with everyone attempting to outdo each other’s zany gift.
It would definitely be another fun-filled evening, with shenanigans aplenty.
To amuse his staff, my husband donned butler attire for the party. In butler mode with a white linen towel draped over his left forearm, he poked his head into the kitchen, “Madam, it’s 7:00 p.m. and all guests are accounted for.”
“Dinner is ready,” I said as I filled a big breadbasket. “Tell everyone to head for the buffet table. Hot garlic bread coming up.”
Toasts were made to good wine, good food, and good marketing strategies.
After dinner, we began the white elephant gift exchange. The elaborately wrapped gifts lined the family room floor. “Everyone take a number. Let the game begin!” my husband shouted.
The first gift chosen was a black oblong metal mailbox with caricatures of John, Paul, Ringo and George painted on each side. The second gift was a pair of red glitter-encrusted clown shoes.
Since the object of the game is to choose, open, trade and steal, merriment, thievery and greed ensued. During the reclamation of the clown shoes, a bottle of red wine toppled from the buffet table and saturated the off-white carpet.
My husband, still in butler mode, spouted, “Madam, I’ll take care of it.”
The party came to a halt. We watched as he poured white wine over the red wine spill. After each drenching, he blotted up the wine with his butler’s towel. Miraculously, the red wine spot disappeared. “Wine is the answer,” my husband said and bowed to a round of applause.
The joviality continued until midnight, and the party was a huge success.
Then to our dismay, the spot from the red wine spill had returned the next morning. After breakfast, my husband called a professional carpet cleaning service.
The experts assured us we’d never see the spot again.
However, two weeks later, the red spot reappeared. Again, the stain was removed, and we were promised it was gone forever.
But it was not to be. A month later, the phantom red spot was back, larger than the original spill.
After the owner of the carpet cleaning company refused to clean the carpet for a third time, we mulled our options. We made the decision to have the carpet and padding removed, and the hardwood floor underneath refinished.
“Since we have to look at that ghastly red spot for two more days, I have an idea,” my husband grinned.
He grabbed two giant black permanent markers from his desk and waved them in the air. His antics never cease to amaze me. I howled as I watched him outline the ugly spot using one of the black markers. It was actually beginning to look like a body had once been sprawled on the carpet. .
“You’re crazy!” I exclaimed. “It’s late. I’m going to bed.” I blew him a kiss and headed upstairs to our bedroom.
That’s the last thing I remember until the alarm awakened me at 6:00 a.m. I got out of bed, put on my robe, skipped down the stairs and headed for the kitchen.
I was dumbstruck when I glanced into the family room. It looked like an actual crime scene. Not only was there an outline of a body on the carpet, but there was yellow caution tape, two orange traffic cones, and one folding barricade sign, topped with two yellow flashing lights encircling the fake crime scene.
` A wave of anguish and despair washed over me. Granted, my husband loves a good practical joke (Me too.), but hadn’t he gone too far this time? Surely, a street in the neighborhood was missing its equipment. I had questions, but he was saved by the doorbell…
My husband had taken the day off from work for the occasion. He greeted the three workmen at the front door and led them into the family room.
“It’s all yours, gentlemen,” he said and quickly removed the tape, cones, and barricade sign.
When the workers spotted the outlined section of carpet, one visibly shaken worker asked, “What happened here?”
My husband smiled, then replied, “Drum roll, the butler did it.”
“We need tools from the van. We’ll be right back,” the foreman said.
But no workmen returned. Several minutes later, we heard tires screeching as the van sped down our street. An hour later, the office manager called to advise us the workers had been called to another job.
“Please go to work tomorrow,” I pleaded, “and return the cones and barricade signs.”
My husband nodded and laughed uproariously. “I only borrowed the cones and signs. You must admit this was one of my best pranks.”
Fortunately, the following morning, a new crew reported to work at our home. In five days, the refinished wood floor was shiny and beautiful, and looked brand new.
Yes, my husband thrives on chaos, hilarity and mischief, and I know striving for a predictable lifestyle is out of the question. So, I pour myself a glass of wine or two, take deep breaths and enjoy the ride.
Author Bio: Georgia A. Hubley grew up on a farm in central Ohio and moved west when her husband’s tour of duty in the Air Force ended. She retired after 20 years from the money world in Silicon Valley to write about her world. Her stories and essays appear in various anthologies and magazines. She’s been riding shotgun with her prankster for 42 years. Once their nest was empty, Georgia and her husband left California in the rear view and now hang their hats in the Nevada desert.