We hang out here after our catering gigs are over with and talk about our nights. One evening we'd been at a beautifully landscaped North Shore estate with a very dressed-up crowd of about 40 people. They had cocktails around the pool, then headed toward the garden when the dinner bell rang. The meal was going beautifully--the first course had been cleared, and we were serving the entree when we noticed that the sprinkler system had started up on the outer garden about 50 yards from the guests. Initially we thought nothing of it, but as we were putting down the last plate the sprinklers on the inner garden came on, about a foot from where everybody was seated. It began as a mist, and because it was so humid, the guests were commenting to one another, "What a refreshing idea!" But soon the mist became a torrential downpour as the sprinklers kicked into high gear. In seconds the guests were completely soaked. Women were screaming and covering their hair with their napkins, and everyone was running away. By the time the host figured out how to turn off the sprinklers, the guests--and the food--were drenched. Basically dinner was over before it had begun, but we dried off the chairs and the guests, and coffee and dessert went off without a hitch. One guest did order a dry martini, stressing the word dry. The gardener was unreachable when the hostess attempted to call.
--Paul Le Beau, caterer