“Hello uhhhhh…. “ here I was , really excited to see him and still mumu enough to pretend to have forgotten the name (yeah right!)
“Steph”, he quickly added “Wow, great seeing you again. You guys refused to plan my sister’s wedding, abi?”
“I really do apologise, but we had it coinciding with another wedding we had already been contracted to do” my explanation was a lie of course, you all know his sister’s wedding was the weekend before money bag’s wedding, but the planning was too intense for the latter that we had to weigh our options, and being true business women that we were, we followed the smell of real cash.
“Listen gorgeous," I felt like saying " we had someone ready to pay us twice as much as your sister would have paid us, so we dropped her like a boiling kettle!”
well , I left this part in my head and said this instead:
“we did explain to your sister why we couldn’t cater for hers and recommended someone we knew could handle it just as well ” I tried to explain lamely, truth be told, Nadine and I felt knew we were the best “hope it was a beautiful ceremony?”
“It certainly was. where are you headed?” he asked while stopping to rummage through his carryon for what turned out to be another mobile phone “my crew and I are doing a charter to Greece, we will be there for a week”
“Are you kidding me? I am going to Greece too! But via London, promised my sister I would spend a few nights before starting my vacation” The day just kept getting better.
He turned around to his colleagues, “I really have to run, we have to do a briefing before the flight” he said while making hand gestures to them “ can I have your number in London, will call to see if we can have drinks or see the sites in Greece”
Numbers exchanged, we parted ways while I went to check in at the Virgin Atlantic counter, I knew the stay at my sister’s was going to seem like an eternity, because now, more than ever, I was looking forward to Greece and a little bit of Steph. Dont worry, I wont bore you with family visits, or talks about my sister and her two terrible adorable boys whom I love to bits, cos I know you cant wait to hear about Steph and I, well...truth be told , I am just as eager to share the story. Lol
In the spirit of valentine, I will talk about my vacation,Greece and Steph specifically. After “old money’s” wedding had been successfully executed, with Nadine and Ify staying completely out of each other’s way, and yours sincerely being the go between all through the event. We were so comfortable with our pot of gold that we decided it was time we put our feet up and relax. We never travel at same time, as the business needed at least one of us to interface with clients, so Nadine took off for two weeks, while I held the fort .
Her first words when we saw was “ so who is paying for the next vacation?” it was always her line after spending too much money. When she goes on a shopping spree, she goes “so who is paying for all these items” kinda our way of saying a new client had to come in to fill the financial void such splurging had incurred.lol
I simply laughed and watched as she shoved a shopping bag at me, “now you can stop oogling this online” she said Nadine has exquisite taste, so whenever she got you a gift, it was always something people would notice “awwwwww , that’s so sweet. What did you get me?” I asked while digging into the gift bag “Oh My God! Where on earth did you find this? “ my voice was quaking with emotion. It was a very rare antique styled Panerai Luminor wristwatch I had seen online, and I had mentioned that it looked like a collector’s piece, but it was sold out. I had no idea Nadine even noticed how much I wanted it.
“now don’t get all mushy on me” she said “it wasn’t like I went searching all over Milan for it, I just bumped into it” then she added “ I have to say this Dionne, for the price I paid, you are not getting a birthday or a Christmas gift for the next two years! Those silly watches are so frigging expensive!”
I was so touched, I ran to give her a bear hug, seriously I shouldn’t even expect a gift for 5years, those watches cost as much as $4,000! With my obsession over watches, I still wouldn’t even buy it for myself! That was Nadine, unpredictably sweet one minute and a Mord Sith the next. It was the sign of better things to come, as two days later, a promotional first class ticket in hand, perfectly done hair, my smile wider than Julia Roberts’ and my heart filled with thoughts of the sea and sun, then I saw him…still as drop-dead-gorgeous as the day he walked into our office only a few months ago. He walked in with the other members of the flight crew and he said. "well, well...if it isn't Raymond's cousin" and that was how it all started.... Happy Valentine!
We had the event atLANDMARK, in Victoria Island eventually, our other location might have been classier but we would have been a bit cramped for space as the fairytale wedding we put together definitely needed a huge venue, one of those events people would be talking about for years.
Quite sure no one is interested in all the nitty gritty details, So maybe we should talk a bit about the rift between Ify and Nadine. There is always another side to every story, but I will give you Nadine’s version of it, and Nadine doesn’t lie.
They had both had a little culinary stint at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu, just fresh out of the University, Nadine wasn’t really interested in cooking, but she was smart enough to recognise that to be able to plan an event you needed to know Food, Wine, Décor and everything in between. So, she wanted to understand the art behind good food, so she could always know what she wanted. Ify on the other hand was actually very interested in cooking and everything that had to do with it. In spite of their different reasons for being there, they both hit it off initially, probably due to their Nigerian ties.
Well, two strong personalities as friends…hardly ever a good idea, they were competitive, academically and socially, then Ify pulled a stinker when she spread a rumour about Nadine being the mistress to a wealthy Arab business man. Not that it did anything to Nadine’s rep, cos when it comes to amoreux, the French had no boundaries. Ify had actually put out the gossip just so she could get the attention of the gorgeous Jacques Guillaume, who was the youngest chef at the time in the institute and he happened to have a thing for Nadine who he fondly called la deesse.
Well, I won’t bore you with all the in betweens especially, since I wasn’t in France to see for myself, but the bottom line is they stopped being friends. And even as successful as they both are, they still act like this Lagos is not big enough for both of them.
Suffice it to say that after the wedding we both had earned one of those vacations many only dream of, Nadine to Milan and Barbados and I to Greece and Paris. Of course, when I picked Greece I did not reckon Steph would be my pilot! From the ancient and romantic Thessaloniki to the beautiful Katerini , Steph and I in Greece beyond words…. but as always we will have to talk about this in my next piece.
Of course when it comes to Money and business, men and all their drama will always have to take a back seat. The excitement at the prospect of a blank cheque was enough to make us forget our pilot crush, at least for now. Steph was definitely a forgotten topic as I could almost see the creative wheels, churning out ideas in the factory that was Nadine’s mind. I knew she was going to be very quiet for the next couple of minutes dreaming up amazing ideas and after that she was going to bombard me with all the ideas, then I would have to start piecing them together. We made an awesome team, Nadine and I.
I had started dialing to find out which of the large venues could be made available. Usually we love working with large venues like Landmark in Victoria Island annexe, cos its so spacious and you could do almost anything with it, create unbelievable themes as long as the client was ready to dole out the cash.
“I was thinking “ said Nadine “we have kinda used Landmark as a venue for too long, there is this new place, the one Ofure had her wedding in Ikoyi, maybe we should try securing it”
I had no clue what venue she was talking about. “I wasn’t at Ofure’s wedding Nadine, that was same weekend I had to travel for my Aunt M's funeral, remember?” I had lost a very dear aunt around that period and had to leave Nadine to handle the Client alone, and she was so frustrated having to deal with the tantrums of Ofure, who happens to be a dear friend of ours, but one of those very dramatic people who always saw a million ways things could go wrong. The wedding was a huge success, but Nadine wouldn’t speak to Ofure for an entire week after it, saying she could strangle her just to get even.Lol “Well, Di you might have to call Ofure…or we could drive down there together” its always better to see the place and visualize, and personally i would rather see the place when it was bare of decorations, i felt it helped you build your own ideas without distraction of decor. “Works for me,” I said “and, I know you hate to hear this, but we have to let Ify in on this deal” even as I said it, I could already envisage Nadine’s reaction “what the hell for?” Ify is a superb cake craft person, one of those kind who could make anything you wanted, and you would not have to worry, but according to Nadine, Ify was just an “overpriced cow, who had no respect for business etiquette” yeah, we both agreed she was very expensive, but it was not my money and Ify was mixed breed, learnt how to make gateaux from some of the experts in France, and when dealing with moneybags, I knew what would sell. Same way we have Glen, a white female photographer, not because she was better than people like, Sumi Smart-Cole or TY Bello, or but because Nigerians would pay us more if they saw a Caucasian, so we exploited their narrow mindedness shamelessly.
But that was not the only reason, Ify and Nadine had their differences from way back, when were both studying in Paris, and they had a history….a story I will have to share some other time, right now we have a wedding to plan.
I could have sworn that the new client or rather potential client who had just walked in and eased the tension between Nadine and I could not afford our services, she had the disheveled look of someone who has lived a rather troubled/harsh life. Her skin seemed a bit sallow and wrinkled, she was most likely in her late sixties, but she looked like she might as well be eighty! I could tell from the snotty look on my partner’s face that she was not amused; she usually left the “charity cases” as we dubbed them to me, I was the people person, so whenever we had people who wanted a million dollar services for a hundred, Nadine haughtily let me handle them. ‘Good afternoon ma’am’ I managed a smile ‘who is getting married?’ I asked heartily. Her response was every event planners dream ‘my only granddaughter’ she said with so much warmth ‘and we are not sparing any cost’ she said with the excitement of a child. The minute Nadine heard those magic words that symbolized a blank cheque, she became a lot nicer and joined in on the conversation. ‘She is such a lucky bride’ she said in her sweetest voice, a voice she reserved for the three F’s- Family, Friends and Fat cheques! When I talk about Nadine, it’s not that I hate her, it’s almost impossible to hate Nadine, you might be angry, jealous, upset, want to strangle her sometimes, but you also had to admire and respect her for so many reasons-Nadine was the kind of girl you love to hate, and hate to love…she was an enigma. One can rarely deceive the old folks, they aren’t called the old folks for nothing, they know all the tricks in the book, so Mrs. A was not fooled by Nadine’s charms, she knew Nadine was speaking to her cos she had said they were willing to spend anything. ‘I will be here with my granddaughter tomorrow, I just wanted to be sure you could do hers for the said date ‘she continued ‘she has some strange colors and ideas in mind, I don’t know the details…but I am sure they will make sense to you young ladies’ I smiled in agreement. ‘Whatever she wants, we can deliver’ Nadine cut in ‘I believe you must have….’ ‘Like I was saying…’ Mrs. A continued like Nadine hadn’t even spoken ‘I am quite sure you ladies will understand and make it as perfect as she would want it, I saw the wedding you planned for the Kadiri’s last month, a very tasteful ceremony I must admit’ as she spoke, I smiled at intervals and did what anybody in my shoes would do, she was talking big, so I was accessing her to see if she seemed just as big, I am no jewelry expert, she wore a simple gold earring, an emerald cut ring, set in what seemed like white gold (possibly platinum) and she had on a Philip Patek watch! Ok, I had to scream about the watch, cos I love watches, and Philip Patek’s don’t come cheap. While I did this, Nadine walked towards the window sulking, I could tell she wanted to see what car Mrs. A had come in, it was all part of the verifying her status process, after all, the ring might not me emerald and the Patek might be a fake! Nadine and I locked gaze, and I knew whatever the ride was, she was veeeeery impressed, cos she was beaming all over. Mrs. A stood up to leave and I stood up to walk her to the door “Thank you for stopping by ma’am” I was beaming too, cos I was so sure we had hit the jackpot “we’ll see you at 12 noon tomorrow’ Then she said ‘could we make it 11.am instead? I have a meeting to attend at 1.pm, and I know these things take time’ At the back of my mind I remembered we had the appointment with our Pilot guy’s sister for tomorrow, but what the hell…I could call them to reschedule for earlier or later, we could smell the money on Mrs A, then I heard myself say ‘not a problem at all ma, 11.am will be perfect’ And as she walked out the door, Nadine screamed “she came in a Rolls Royce Phantom!”