So I never told you this story before. I’m living in San Diego with my then-boyfriend Paul (this is about a million years ago, I think I must be 25). We live in a tiny apartment by the beach. We’re both working in hotels (different hotels though) and he’s a banquet captain—so he basically works a lot of parties.
This party is different though. This is a wedding, the wedding of Andre Agassi’s brother.
(This is waaaaay before Steffi Graf; this is when Andre’s still married to Brooke Shields.)
According to Paul, Andre Agassi’s mom is a bit of a control-freak when it comes to planning the wedding. Paul: “She is very demanding, but in a nice demanding way.”
The mom is walking through the banquet room with Paul and the catering manager and going into an elaborate description of how she wants everything decorated. Since the wedding will be taking place early December, she wants about a gazillion Christmas trees everywhere. Live trees. Decorated trees. Flocked trees. (You know—that fake puffy white snow somehow glued to the branches?)
The hotel ends up getting 25 of the most gorgeous Empire-State-Building-tall trees you have ever seen in your life. Someone drives to Greenland to retrieve them all. The trees cost $3000 each. You can barely walk through and see the ocean view outside because of this dense forest of Christmastravaganza.
The wedding goes off without a hitch. Brooke Shields is exceedingly nice (I ask Paul what she drinks: strawberry daiquiris. I make a mental note to order a strawberry daquiri in the near future.). The general manager is very proactive in asking the mom what she wants done with all those trees (I think he’s hoping she'll let the hotel just keep them for their own holiday decorating purposes and save a considerable chunk of the December budget).
But, no. The mom says (and, luckily, there are witnesses), “It is my fondest wish to let each banquet or kitchen employee have a tree.” There are 25 trees, and 50 employees.
It is decided (after the wedding) that there will be a lottery to determine which employees will get the coveted trees. Everyone is so excited, you’d think they're giving away new cars.
You know what happens next: Paul wins a tree. Our apartment can barely hold a couch and a table, let alone a tree of Nutcracker Ballet proportions (see “tiny apartment,” above).
Conveniently, my mom and her 20 foot ceilings live close by. In a gesture of generosity and common sense, Paul gives her the tree.
It is a strange kind of nostalgia, when an event happens and as it is happening, you say to yourself, This is the best it will ever be. That is how putting that tree up is. We all look at the glamorous Andre Agassi’s brother’s wedding tree and give a big collective sigh. We will never ever have a tree this beautiful again. (And I'm not even a fan of flocked white trees, as I deem them “cheap” and “tacky.” Not this tree. This tree is “perfect” and “classy.”)
We all take turns posing for too many pictures in front of the iconic tree. It is a wonderful and magical Christmas, with this extravagant souvenir of Wimbledon and Hollywood taking residence in the center of the room near the window.
We leave it up ‘til April.
(“Magical Optimum Vision”)