Events are what we make of them. The most linear route to spoiling any event is a simple, two-step process:
1. Obsess over the details
2. Ignore the intention
Balancing Intent and Intricacies
Full disclosure is necessary here: I adore details, the more intricate the better. Details are the small touches that demonstrate personal care and consideration. For example, it is the difference between hand craftsmanship and machine mass production or between a handwritten thank-you note and a form letter addressed "to whom it may concern." Details inject evidence that someone cared enough to produce something worthy of the recipient.
Details do matter for any event; they accent the occasion. However, the guests attending the event matter far more than any detail, regardless how expensive or exquisite. Indeed, there is no event without guests. Guests, then, trump all pursuits of tea perfection.
The Palm Court at The Plaza
I intentionally selected The Palm Court at The Plaza to transport a colleague from her current stressful atmosphere to a more serene state of mind. In my experience, sharing afternoon tea is a proven method for achieving this goal. Remembering my previous afternoon teas under The Plaza's stained-glass dome, I desired that she leave tea feeling relaxed, refreshed, and nurtured. Thankfully she did, but it surprisingly took some effort.
Arriving six minutes prior to our 2:00 p.m. seating, we were shooed away to meander through the now sparse Hotel Lobby. We reappeared promptly as requested, only to join a bewildered crowd at the Palm Court's entrance. We managed to make eye contact as a signal that we were present. Then we heard our name mispronounced. We took our cue, emerged from the throng, and gratefully took our seats.
We dined sumptuously on a well-planned, three-course afternoon tea and enjoyed edifying conversation too. Yet, it seemed that we were taking up space because a steward started clearing us out mid-conversation. Since we were previously interrupted with the check and had paid it, I resisted the not-so-subtle hint to leave before this tea's mission was fully accomplished.
Even though I'm glad to say my guest thoroughly enjoyed our tea, I lament over this particular Palm Court at The Plaza visit. The venue was scenic, the china and linens immaculate. The tea itself was perfect. The overall atmosphere was as sterile as the savories, scones, and sweets were sublime. Tea is more than details. Tea must also include the main ingredient -- the guests.
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