Sunday, August 13, 2006

“Should we hire Al The Only or order the shrimp?”

Let me tell you about two delightful people, Ernie Lush and Diane Van Hoet.

Ernie is 79 and Diane is 61 years young. They met at a Parents Without Partners Dance in 1986. They’ve been happily ever after ever since; now, both with grown children and a couple grandchildren. They’ve been living, loving, working and playing together for twenty years. One day they overheard their youngest granddaughter tell her older sister that Grandpa and Grandma had said something. The older girl, seven years old, told her younger sister that they’re really not their grandparents because they’re not married.

This broke Ernie and Diane’s hearts. They never gave into peer pressure to get married. They didn’t get married because of the kids but that particular day their grandchildren melted their hearts. So after twenty years of dating they decided to tie the knot at the ages of 79 and 61. Diane laughingly says that “We finally got serious about the relationship.” Ernie says he robbed the cradle; Diane says she robbed the wheelchair! You have to love these two. They both have a wonderful sense of humor and even a greater zest for life.

Ernie retired from the jewelry business in March of 2006. So where do I come in?

Ernie and Diane first became acquainted with me in 1987 when the couple saw me perform at Les and Lili Gold’s American Jewelry and Loan Company Christmas Party. Diane still has the playing card I had her sign and used it in a card trick that evening. Ernie and Diane have seen me at subsequent parties. When they stared planning their wedding reception they knew they wanted to make it special. When Ernie described the reception he said that he had spent his entire life making money and now he and Diane were going to enjoy spending it. They rented the Ovation, a stunning, tri-level, 138-foot yacht that sails up and down Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River (between the international boarder of Canada and the United States). They knew that the food was going to be delicious. They knew the band, who played on the open air top level, was going to be terrific. They knew that the booze was going to be flowing freely. They knew the staff and crew of the Ovation was going to make sure the evening would float (pun intended) without a hitch (oops another pun). But Ernie and Diane wanted to take their party over the top. They wanted their very important guests to remember and talk about their reception long after the icing on the cake had melted.

Ernie and Diane had close to 250 guests at their wedding. Friends flew in from all over the world: Japan, Australia, Germany, Russia and England. Friends and family came up to Michigan from all across the United States. It was a fitting tribute to two very charming people. Ernie and Diane knew that I would be the ticket to make their party more memorable.

When I’m back in the Detroit area and have a free Wednesday evening, I magically pop back into my old stomping grounds, Kiernan’s Steak House, in Dearborn, Michigan, where I use to perform before moving to Maui. Ernie and Diane contacted me, found out what night I was going to be at Kiernan’s, came in for dinner and to talk to me. In between courses I would stop at their table to entertain them with my magic. They told me the story about their granddaughters. They told me about their wedding plans and how they wanted to include me. Every time I stopped by, we had fun, they kept saying how much they loved my work and they wanted me at their party but probably couldn’t afford me. I told them I would call them after I knew if I was available for their date.

My calendar was open for that date and I was going to be in the area. I called to tell them that I was available and what my fee was. Diane exclaimed that that’s exactly what the cost of the jumbo shrimp was going to be. (Later Diane told me that I had said that I would be more appreciated and with all the other delicious food no one would miss the shrimp.) Diane told me to send her a contract.

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006 was a beautiful, sunny, warm day in the Detroit area. Ernie and Diane exchanged their wedding vows near a gazebo overlooking Lake Saint Clair. The guests boarded the Ovation and as we sailed out of the Jefferson Beach Marina in St. Clair Shores, Michigan the party began. The cruise lasted four hours. My job was to mingle with the guests on all three levels as the ship sailed. Using my up close, strolling magic, sleight-of-hand and interactive comedy I brought people into conversations, included strangers into groups and basically entertained them beyond belief. The two granddaughters, who finally got Ernie and Diane together, followed me around like a pied piper. Everyone had a grand evening.

The accolades, even after 26 years, still overwhelm me. The new Mr. and Mrs. Lush (Diane LOVES seeing that in print), kept gushing over me and thanking me for being such a big part of their evening. I know I had as much fun as their guests did.

Come back for tomorrow's blog post to read Ernie and Diane’s letter to me after the reception.


Al The Only

PS I'm not just selling entertainment, I provide wonderful memories of your party for your guests!


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