Fake it until you make it. Really old expression. Dated, even. At least as old as myself, and soon enough I can rent a car on my own. This particular expression has come up more times than I can count in the quarter of a century I have walked the world. It only stopped making sense a month ago.
We were contacted for an event in February, that was taking place in mid-March. A walk/run to the tune of encouraging adult literacy. Though I had been working with and becoming familiar with the inner workings of event planning for 6 months by this point, most of it was logistic. File this entertainer’s insurance, Send invoices to this clown (profession, not insult!), and the occasional fill-in spot as an attendant of craft stations. So of course it was a little alarming to find out my superior would be out of town the weekend of the event, and it would all be up to little old me.
I arrived early (or earlier than my entertainment) and was able to survey the site thoroughly with the final layout mostly in place. This was important as I found that despite making detailed maps of the area for my crew, the initial layout was different from the final product and had it been left unchanged would end up with a generator and bounce house entrance next to a very displeased DJ. Easily resolved. “I’m getting good at this” I allow myself to think. Naively.
I begin to mosey around the site a little, take some pictures for sake of making sure the boss stays sane and sees neither myself nor any of our equipment has caught fire, and make sure everything looks good from an outside perspective. I spot the clients chatting among themselves and catch one’s eye to give him a thumb’s up, and suddenly he’s coming straight for me. Oh no, am I on fire now?
“Hey, everything looks great. But where are the three face painters?” Maybe its because its early(-er than I am used to), or I haven’t had breakfast (don’t do that) but I am drawing a blank. Suddenly I’m searching for words to make it better, while simultaneously interrupting El Jefe’s vacation as aggressively as my phone provider will allow.
The invoice on my phone, and the hard copy folded into a tiny obsessive paranoid-my-phone-will-die-or-get-wiped-by-Skynet square from my pocket don’t help much. They are identical, and confirm that though three face painters are slated to be here, I have copied early drafts of the paperwork without their contact information. Certainly I handled all this paperwork personally, but the clients are waiting for a good answer and I can’t recall the specifics to give one. The phone isn’t ringing back and suddenly this parking lot feels like it has some really tight corners.
Managing to slip out of the Ring of Fire, I breathe and put my phone away. This is in my hands, now. An urge boils in my gut to assure them the face painters are close, fake the biggest smile I can muster and just hope some Divine Balloon Twister in the sky makes my phone ring.
Just as I resolved myself to the fates of owning up; that everything was figuratively on fire and I might just stick behind a desk, the tides turn. There are familiar, pre-painted faces in the parking lot, and in all the panic of trying to figure out how to make it appear as if everything was fine, it had become so. Within minutes the artists are set-up, the sharks have stopped circling and there are ecstatic kids climbing director’s chairs to become Bat-Girls and somewhat small giant transforming robots.
So busy in trying to find a way to make everything appear copacetic, I had lost the fact that I had ensured everything was in place weeks ago. Suddenly there was no reason to worry or formulate an excuse. The event was a success before I had to pretend it was. In an immense effort to pretend I didn’t see storm clouds, it had slipped my mind I owned an umbrella.