My wife and I love to eat sushi. It’s our favorite food. We have a favorite restaurant, a small sushi bar, that we eat at at least once a week. So when it came around to our 20th anniversary we thought it would be great to rent out the restaurant and invite our close friends for a special dinner. Because we were regulars, the restaurant was more than accommodating. We set the date – during the week, when they aren’t overly crowded - and time – 8:00 p.m., giving dinner customers time to come in and eat before we took over.
My wife, Lynn, sent invitations to our good friends and family, inviting them to join us in a casual dinner celebration. Lynn does nothing casually however, and decided to make the invitations. On her computer she printed out a “menu” listing all of the party specifics along with some anecdotes about our 20 years together. She included a picture of us taken at the restaurant from one of our birthday’s, at the top of the invite. Before sealing the envelopes, she put a pair of decorative chopsticks that she found at a party store, into each one.
On the day of the party, we arrived at the restaurant early to set up. There were some customers finishing up their meal, so we waited quietly. A few customers were turned away due to our private party, but we would more than make up for them with our 30 or so guests. When at last the restaurant was empty, we got to work. Lynn wanted to push the small restaurant tables together to create three large ones. She covered the usually bare tables with white tablecloths from home. At the center of each table Lynn put an arrangement she did herself. She bought large round glass fishbowls at a pet store. Inside each bowl she put a clear glass. Earlier in the day, we went to the Farmer’s Market and picked an assortment of colorful flowers that included lilies, orchids, and snap dragons. Lynn put water in the glasses, arranged the flowers in them, and set them inside the fishbowl. She then filled the bowl with water. Next, she added five goldfish to each bowl. It was a truly unique centerpiece with the tropical flowers and swimming fish.
Along the sushi bar Lynn placed framed photos of us through the years. There were pictures from our wedding, trips we’d taken, holidays with family, our daughter’s high school graduation and Sweet Sixteen, and a few favorites from everyday life. To spruce up the restaurant a bit more still, Lynn had balloons delivered. They matched the colors of the flowers – pink, white, yellow, and purple – and were allowed to float to the ceiling, covering it in a sea of color.
At 7:55 p.m. we were ready. Lucky for us, our friends are usually fashionably late, so we had a few minutes to sit down. Waiters put pitchers of water on the tables and large bowls of edamame so guests would have something to nibble on right away. Lynn and I found a spot to sit down and Sato, the owner of the restaurant (and sushi chef) sent us some complimentary saki. Just as we polished it off, our first guests arrived.
There is nothing better than being surrounded by those you love on special occasions. To our surprise, even though Lynn wrote no gifts please on the invitation, everyone brought something for us. We placed the gifts on a table to the side and focused our attention on our friends. We stood for a while talking and drinking until everyone had arrived and then we took our seats.
We had no set menu, so waiters took orders from individuals. While some people enjoy all kinds of sushi, including the raw types, some only like things cooked, so we wanted everyone to be happy with their meal. Sato and his assistant chefs were quick to fill orders and everyone enjoyed the food. We ate and drank for what seemed like hours. Even Sato joined us in some libations. And I have to say, the sushi tasted better the more he drank. Hmm…
When everyone had finished eating, I got everyone’s attention and told a tale of two fish. The main characters had been together for a long time, but still their love was like new. They swam the ocean together, facing the sharks and the clowns and remaining always as one. There were still many more adventures for them in the vast sea, and they were looking forward to navigating the waters as a team. I thanked Lynn for being my wife and told her she was the only fish for me.
As our last guests left, we helped return the restaurant to its original set up and left one of the centerpieces for Sato. We gathered all of the presents and looked forward to getting home and opening them. It had been a perfect evening, one we will always remember.