Friday, October 30, 2009

American Skin Association Annual Gala

Do you ever have moments in your life where you just stop for a second and think to yourself, "wow, is this really where I am right now? Is this really what is going on in my life?" I do. Before last night, my most recent "wow, really?" moment was on our dinner cruise on the Danube during our trip to Budapest this summer. I sat there, taking in the incredible scenery and eating amazing food while that harpist played in the background, and all I could think was "I can't believe I'm really here." Last night I had another one of those moments. I was sitting there in a formal gown, dining on filet mignon while an orchestra played in the background at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. And that handsome man in a tuxedo next to me? That's that cute boy I saw at the pool over 11 years ago, the one that I was too shy to invite to my birthday party. How did I get here? Is this really my life? It was pretty surreal.

But let's back up!

About a month ago, Eric emailed me a copy of this:

A client of Eric's firm was to be honored at this Gala, so the firm decided to get a table at this event. Several partners were going, plus Eric and another associate. Since receiving this invitation I have spent the last month agonizing over what to wear, how to do my hair, and all that fun girly stuff. What can I say? I love getting dressed up!

Last night Eric left work around 5:15 and came home to meet me. He changed into his tux and I finished getting ready, then we grabbed a cab over to 59th Street and 5th Avenue. We decided to take advantage of our dressiness for some pictures, so we first wandered into Central Park for a quick picture by the Pond.

It's dark, but just trust me - we're in front of the Pond. You can see building lights behind us too!

We then wandered back towards the Plaza and Pulitzer Fountain for a couple more pictures. I was so glad it was a fairly warm evening, so I could get away with bare arms or just a light wrap. My hair was also relieved it wasn't raining or windy.

In front of Pulitzer Fountain

I just had to throw this one in here because I think Eric looks so, so handsome.

In front of the Plaza

After our photo shoot, we waited outside the Plaza for a few more minutes for the rest of our party to arrive. When everyone was accounted for, we made our way in to the hotel and up to the third floor for cocktail hour.

In the lobby of the Plaza

We sipped our drinks, sampled the passed hors d'oeuvres and mingled, plus Eric and I sneaked into the ballroom while they were still setting up to snap a couple pictures. It was just as elegant and ornate as you might expect! Plus, the centerpieces were gorgeous: white roses and white hydrangea, accented with gold leaves. The china had a lovely gold pattern around the rim, and there was silverware as far as they eye could see. It made me think of that scene in "Pretty Woman" where Julia Roberts is trying to learn what silverware to use for each course, because there is just so much!

The Grand Ballroom

VIDEO: The Grand Ballrom

Tables all set up

Soon a couple of men began walking around playing a series of notes on xylophones to signal that it was time to move into the ballroom for dinner. How fancy! We found our table and started the first course: roasted beet salad with goat cheese, cauliflower purée, mezza greens and apple cider vinaigrette, accompanied by a glass of chardonnay. Yum! (You can see the beet salad on the plates in the above picture - you know I was dying to take pictures of all the food, but I felt inappropriate!)

As we ate our first course, they began the speeches and handing out various awards. A couple of quick notable stories from this segment of the evening: one of the award recipients was a woman with seven great-grandchildren! Isn't that cool? Another recipient was apparently from Philadelphia, and as you likely know, the Phillies are currently playing the Yankees in the World Series. When this gentleman mentioned Philadelphia, people booed! The speeches were also punctuated with score updates of the ongoing baseball game. Oh, you crazy New Yorkers.

Okay. I also have to take a moment to call out my husband for a second. Eric, I love you, but I have to do this. Do you know what that boy leaned over and said to me during this event? He said, "Be sure to watch your chins!" ::Pause for gasps of horror:: Now. I come from a family that is blessed in the chinular area. I don't know what it is, but we are prone to some chins at various times. I'll go ahead and make fun of myself and demonstrate what I mean with this oh-so-flattering shot from our wedding:

Stretch your neck out, woman!

Seriously, what is happening under my face? It's just a fact of life, I guess. I know several of my family members can sympathize. I'm going to go ahead and pull my cousin Molly down with me here, but only because she has truly mastered the art of posing to eliminate the chins, and she can even look elegant while doing so. Check her out:

YES, Molly. Nicely done. Neck is elongated, chin is extended outward, hand is in place to conceal anything left over, and she even fancied it up with a rose. This is how you do it.

Not only is she making sure chins have no place in her picture, she looks stunning while doing so. Bravo, Molly. You are an inspiration to us all! On a related note, has anyone seen that infomercial for the Neckline Slimmer? Awesome.

My apologies for going off on this tangent. I realize I interrupted my classy Plaza post to talk chins, but I blame Eric. He brought it up! You can't see me, but I'm still glaring in his general direction.

Anyway. Back to the Plaza. After the first round of speeches and awards, the main course was served: herb-roasted filet mignon, served with caramelized leek and potato cake, wild mushrooms and wilted greens, and paired with cabernet sauvignon. YUM. Recently, Eric was explaining to his family the general rule of thumb that the better the restaurant, the rarer you should order your steak. At the Plaza, they don't even give you a choice of how you want it - it came out on the rare side of medium-rare. For me, it was perfect. The whole dinner was so good, I even ate the mushrooms. And I hate mushrooms. But apparently, I do like Plaza mushrooms.

Next up was dessert, which was a caramel orange tart and oven-roasted fruit with orange cream. It tasted like orange sorbet! Plus, they brought out trays of assorted truffles and served coffee and tea. While we ate dessert, the second round of speeches and awards took place. This was when the firm's client was honored.

Now I have to de-class this post again to share with you my horror of what I did during this portion of the evening: I burped! Some of you who know me well know that I don't burp. Really, almost never. My sister can belch with the best of them, but I burp maybe three times a year. Maybe. It's so infrequent that when it happens, it really startles me. But I burped at the Plaza! It was a dainty, polite burp of course, but still - I burped at the Plaza. I guess we need moments like those to remind ourselves that we haven't quite made it to the top just yet!

I promise to finish this post with the grace and decorum that a Gala at the Plaza calls for. My apologies.

After dessert and the rest of the awards, the orchestra picked up and people danced. Most of our party left at that point, but Eric and I stuck around till the end. We didn't dance, but we sipped wine and talked and just enjoyed being there. How often does one get to spend an evening in such a beautiful location? We saw no reason to leave until we had to!

In the ballroom towards the end of the night

When it was finally time to go, we decided to walk home and enjoy the evening. What a night! I still can't believe that we had an opportunity to do something so cool. I loved every minute of it, and I'm so glad that this is where our lives have brought us.


Anonymous said...

Meghan, you looked gorgeous. And, I too can relate to the chin explanation! I didn't know that about your burping-too funny!

Love, Aunt Rachel

Dad said...

I could have told about the burping thing. :o) Looks like a wonderful night for a great couple. Keep enjoying each other you two.