Back in the day, it was common for a wedding reception guest list to exceed 500 people. Unlike today, kids of all ages were invited so my sister and I had a lot of fun joining the celebrations. Many of the receptions in our coal-mining region were held in a castle-like building not far from our home. Each level had a specific function; one was for food and beverage and another for dining and dancing. Family and friends of the bride and groom prepared and served all the food including a few thousand cookies and huge cake with a fancy fountain in the middle that bubbled colorful water. The cake was served, along with a shot of whiskey for those of age, to each guest who danced with the bride during the bridal dance. The dance floor was massive and it had to be because everybody danced. In fact, my sister and I learned to dance the polka on the yellow and white linoleum squares in our kitchen at home just so we could whoop it up on the dance floor to the live polka band at the reception. Colorful flowers, made from facial tissue, spelled out the names of the bride and groom on the wall in the main dining and dancing area, which was filled with rows of wooden tables and folding chairs stamped with the name of the local fire department. Once a family claimed a table, they would wedding tip in their wooden chairs as a sign that the seat was taken before they ventured to the lower level to get their food. These are some special memories and I had forgotten about them until I was out for dinner and drinks last week.
My husband and I have a ‘go-to’ restaurant when we travel to the big city that doesn’t follow the 3Ps of dining. We plan to get their early enough to use our Q-pon for ½ off appetizers and get out before the big Friday night crowd arrives. Yes, my dad taught us the importance of getting there early and beating the crowd out. We arrived at church before the priest just to make sure we had a seat and watched the finale of many Fourth of July fireworks celebrations from back window of the car-as we drove away to beat the traffic. Anyway, as we sipped our drinks and enjoyed our ‘get their early’ bargain food, the room started to fill. A lot of people, whose dads weren’t as smart as mine, were standing around the bar holding drinks as they waited for a table. And that’s when I saw it, the thing that brought back all those special memories from the summers when I was little, only this time, it wasn’t the wooden chair stamped with the name of local fire department, it was a barstool.
Here’s how it went down. A couple seated at the bar decided it was time to go outside for a smoke break. Going outside together usually means loss of front row seating in exchange for a few more cancer cells, but this couple and I must have been to a few of the same weddings back in the day. They stood up, gathered their cancer sticks, and before walking away, wedding tipped their barstools. Not their bartenders, but their barstools. I did a double take. “Did that just happen?” I asked my husband. “I never considered a wedding tip to save my seat at a bar.” Apparently, none of the 50 people standing around them had considered it either because they all just stood there and stared at the tipped stools-for 15 minutes. When the wedding tippers returned, their stools were waiting for them, just like when we returned from the lower level with our plates full of homemade food and cookies. I had forgotten the effectiveness of the wedding tip and thanks to this couple, I’ll always have a seat.