I was kind of drunk and already at the “fuck this shit” stage of the party, but I had been there so long that it didn’t matter; I could get everything done drunk, with my eyes closed, and an arm tied behind my back. As long as the building didn’t collapse into itself (a very real possibility), I could drunkenly amble around all night without getting caught.
Leaned against the wall, I talked Gerald through a normal party: what to do, what to expect, how to expertly not give a damn about anybody there while giving some form of service.
“The biggess thing are the water glashes. Make shure they’re always filled or these people get pissed. Ya know?”
My eyes slowly opened and closed while my mind tried catching up to the words escaping my numb lips.
“How should I take orders?”
“However you can remember them. Jus’ make shure you remember. Dinner’s a bitch.”
I probably wasn’t doing the best job training Gerald, but he was a friend and had the support of our entire group. I wouldn’t let him fall behind in the night, my tables were usually the first ones set with a course, or cleared for the next.
“Where is everybody?” Gerald asked. The room was dark, preparing for the wedding parties entrance, but none of the waiters were in the room. I could have sworn I saw them go in before us.
“No idea. Less take these orders.” I hoisted myself off the wall and grabbed some crumpled paper from my back pocket. “Juss take table 4, I’ll take 2 and 3. You can carry a menu around with you ‘cause these people can’t hear shit anyway.” I took a menu from a tray stand and gave it to him.
As I circled tables with the same beef-chicken-fish question, I kept glancing around the room looking for other waiters. Nothing. After we finished I realized the DJ still hadn’t begun the entrance.
“I dunno. Less go put these on the sheet and find everybody.”
As soon as we opened the door, madness.
“ANTHONY. WHERE WERE YOU DUDES? WE NEED EVERYBODY IN THE HALLWAY.” Barb shoved table cloths into my stomach and speed walked towards the hallway where the wedding party stood waiting to enter.
Waiters were scattered everywhere, some on the floor with cloth, others draping them near the ceiling. Mark, Leon, Nikko, and Alan were laying cloth on the tiled floor and moving them around with their shoes.
“Yooo” Leon started laughing.
“Somebody used the bathroom in the bridal suite and a pipe burst.” Mark said, hands in his pockets while he swooshed up the piss water from the floor.
“How are they gonna get in?” Nikko said, moving tables out of the way with Alan.
“Only way in is through the water or through the kitchen. Bet they make ’em walk through the piss.”
The bride watched with growing rage as all the champagne, soda, and food she and her wedding party had eaten during cocktail hour poured through the ceiling and landed as bubbled fizz on the floor in front of them.
Barb was talking with the bride and groom, hoping to calm them down in some way before telling them they had to walk through everything.
“Anybody got umbrellas?”
My buzz was ruined. Nikko, Alan, Gerald, and I stood on chairs with a table cloth outstretched, pooling as much as we could so they could get under it quickly. Mark was under us, dodging beads as he mopped up with his foot. As soon as they started to cautiously make their way under, drops of piss water soaked through and landed on tuxedos, groomed hair, dresses, and faces.
“This is fucking disgusting.” A groomsman said as he walked by.
“Fucking embarrassing. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.” Another one said, looking directly into my soul.
Sorry dude, I’m just the guy getting paid $10 per hour to mop up your shit.
With the exception of some yellow stains on the bride’s gown, we did pretty good.
“So fucking gross.” Alan said while we all took turns washing our hands in the employee bathroom.
“I had such a good buzz going, too.” I shook my head.
“Yeah man, I didn’t know if you were gonna make it. You were slurring everything!”
“I’ll get there again. Where’s John? Why’s Barb in our party?”
“Nobody’s seen him. I think dude left.” Mark said.
We got back into the room as the introductions were finishing, waiters scrambled to take orders before we’d be called back for salad.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’d like to ask our bride and groom to the dance floor for their first dance as husband and wife.” Applause. Phones and cameras out. Always the same thing. If you didn’t take orders before the first dance, you were fucked. Everybody gets up, seats change, and most people don’t care about prime rib or chicken francese.
The scene from the hallway was written all over the bride’s face; the mess visible on the left shoulder of her dress.
Gerald and I leaned against the wall; since we took orders earlier, this was another break period. Mark finished and leaned next to us, squinted towards the dance floor, “What was that?”
He motioned his face to the dance floor. Drops from the ceiling. Water. A few at first but growing steady. The groom looked up first, then his bride. As soon as they did, a wet piece of drywall from the ceiling fell with a PLOP next to them.
“Oh. Shit.” Most of the waiters saw it and hurried to pick it up from the floor.
While sprint walking towards the dance floor, I noticed others start to drop from the ceiling on the other side of the room. Whatever smiles the bride and groom managed to muster had faded, tears were rolling down the bride’s cheeks; a mixture of happiness, anger, and probably piss. They ended their dance abruptly and immediately looked for Barb, who was running around with latex gloves picking up anything she could.
The tiles fell onto tables, into water glasses, chairs, on people’s heads. They were falling quicker than we could clean them up, quicker than we could pretend it never happened. As soon as Gerald and I got to the other side of the dance floor, they began falling on our side. Waiters, Barb, and some of the cleaning crew hurriedly picked up pieces of wet tile with napkins while guests jumped out of the way, some screaming.
They wouldn’t stop coming down. We moved tables out of the way, rearranged chairs, pulled wet plates and glasses from tables.
“SHOT! I NEED A SHOT OVER HEAR!” I yelled over the fray and music. The grand ballroom was quickly becoming a warzone and we were getting destroyed.