Friday, June 10, 2016

When Events Go Wrong

A couple of weeks ago I witnessed one of the most glorious examples of how to recover when an event goes astray. My granddaughter was married in Manteo North Carolina and the bride, groom, and the parents had worked hard to create a beautiful outdoor venue. Both grandmothers, the groom’s parents, and most of the groomsmen were bused in from various hotels.

The bride and bridesmaids were preparing in the special event center where we would all go after the ceremony for a dinner with dancing to follow.

We gathered under trees overlooking the bay awaiting the magical moment when the bride and her ladies would emerge. The sea sparkled in the background. Artful arrangements of flowers perfected the fairyland setting. We were moments away from taking our seats.

The weather was perfect. And then it wasn’t. The skies opened.

Both grandmothers, the groom, the mother of the groom, most of the groomsmen, and various other participants were sloshed in a sudden downpour. Not a sprinkle, mind you. A cascade of water. Immediate and devastating.

Safely inside, the bride, the mother-of the bride, and the sheltered members of the wedding immediately flew into high gear. Their hardest task was coaxing the miserable sodden guests to run through sheets of water to the event center. Once inside, the wedding planner announced there would be a slight delay. We were given hair dryers and patted with paper towels. It didn’t help much.

Tables were moved from the center of the floor to form an aisle, the orchestra relocated to a balcony, a staging area created, and the bride processed between columns of joyful (standing) friends. What a splendid predictor of happiness in the marriage!!! Adjustment was immediate, in tandem, and victory created when the afternoon could have culminated in tears, tantrums, and an ugly melt-down.

Handling events gone wrong is one of the most difficult lessons I’ve had to learn in a writing career. It’s especially disheartening to set up a signing, arrive and learn the store owner has not ordered books, or the books are there but the people aren’t. Anticipated fans all went fishing or something.

I wonder how many pages I would need to list all the things that have gone wrong in my writing career. Many more would be needed to list all the stupid things I’ve said or done. I regret the length of time it’s taken to learn to face adverse events with humor and a sense of perspective. It takes a long, long time to learn how to flip misfortunes into opportunities.

I envy my lovely granddaughter and her splendid husband. They are beginning their marriage with attributes it usually takes a lifetime to acquire.

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