Band on the Run: Sister Servant (Stag & Doe)

[Yes, that is a Tupperware container full of leis. If only getting laid (leid?) were as easy as opening a plastic container and reaching in!]

I arrived at my sister and her fiancé’s Stag & Doe party to a place filled with these colourful plastic leis around everyone’s neck, shiny paper palm trees and Hawaiian-themed napkins expertly placed on all the cocktail tables. Even the tables wore grass skirts and I couldn’t help but wonder if they would eventually start to do the hula when the night got underway. I mean, tables get lots of drinks poured down their necks, if you know what I mean! Anything could happen…

For those of you unfamiliar with this kind of event, a “Stag & Doe” is just a big party for both the bride and the groom at the same time. My sister is getting married next week and she’s getting married in Hawaii. Many people couldn’t afford the flights to attend and so this big party was to give those who can’t come an opportunity to wish the couple happiness and good times. Sort of a “hometown reception,” if you will.

As soon as I got there, my sister’s Maid of Honour came up to me with wide, imploring eyes and said: “Do you mind working the mic tonight? We need to make announcements and no one here really knows how to talk in front of crowds.” “No problem,” I said, much to her relief, and I wondered what “work the mic” really meant in the world of Stag & Does. I’m not exactly the most experienced attendee. What did they have in mind?

I found out rather quickly. I was told it would involve calling out numbers for betting games they would be playing to raise extra money for the couple, like a silent auction and a 50/50 game. I figured it would be a piece of cake.

(of the pre-wedding kind, of course!)

The venue was called “Joe Dog’s” and it’s located in Burlington, Ontario, the town where we spent our childhood. It’s basically just a bar with a downstairs dance club equipped with a lounge area, cocktail tables, a dance floor and a DJ booth.

It was behind the latter that I located the microphone and sound system. I immediately flipped into “work mode” and took in how their equipment works. I was just adjusting levels quietly to make up for the lack of EQ rack when the head bartender came over and scolded me for touching the equipment. I was taken aback, being that sound gear is something I know a lot about and dealing with sound systems is something that I do sometimes five or six times a week.

I apologized, explaining that I had forgotten my manners but that I wasn’t just a hack. She seemed satisfied with my apology and told me plainly not to let anyone else use the gear or come into the booth. She spun on her heels then and returned to the bar with tray balanced in one hand, the other hand still on her hip, bent as sternly as her mouth when she was scolding me.

I got it all working then and before long I was welcoming the crowd and then hosting the “horse races.” This was the most entertaining of games during the evening. Six “jockeys” were volunteers and each stood in their squares holding a cardboard horse between their legs. In fact, whoever made those horses spent a fair amount of time on them and did a damn fine job!

Their horses were all named cutesy Hawaiian or “weddingish” names and it was my job to get people at the party to roll the giant, steroid-filled die along the floor to see who would be the next rider to move ahead. Beforehand, there had been people walking the room collecting bets on the riders, so the crowd got involved in hopes to get some winnings (split with the bride and groom, of course) and cheered on the volunteers in fun as though their “racing performance” had anything to do with it rather than sheer luck of the toss.

There I was, musician-turned-sportscaster, trying to keep this interesting by reporting on the movements of the horses, joking about who was in the lead and who was taking up the rear, using every commentator-like line I could think of to keep the game rolling and to keep people interested.

“So, now we have rider number six taking the lead, folks, with number five just one square behind him. Who’s going to roll next? Let’s see who’s going to leave the others in their cardboard dust. There we go – we got cousin Lorie rolling the die now, cousin of the bride, and she has rolled a big five on this big die. No wonder there’s no other die to make a pair of dice – wouldn’t be room for them in the horseracing game box! Okay now jockey number five is sniffing victory and has moved up one and is now neck and neck with number six. And who’s taking up the rear but… oh, yes, it’s the mother of the bride! How does it feel to be back there, Mom?”

“Stop mentioning my rear!” she called out in response, tipsy from the wine and enjoying the frenzy of the occasion.

Everyone laughed.

It was that kind of night. All in all, I think I fared fairly well. I wouldn’t say it was easy, but I think the art of performance is sometimes nothing more than one’s ability to fake like you know what you’re doing. Sometimes a musician’s job can be very diverse, resulting in new experiences that you’d never dreamed of, let alone planned for. I was glad I had it in me. I’m also glad it’s over!

Now, if only I could have convinced the security staff to have the apostrophe on their shirts removed. Otherwise, they belong to the guard dogs, which really just makes them about as fierce as a chew toy.

They didn’t find that funny.

I guess I have no future as a comedienne!