Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Met a Princess Once...

This is from a long post that I had published in bits and pieces on a cake forum a long time ago at the height of my Bakery Life.  Every word is true; again, you can't make up stuff this crazy.

If it seems pieced together, it is, but it was so funny and bizarre that I had to include it here.

One day my bakery phone rings and it's this woman, who sounds very...normal.  No foreign accent, articulate, friendly, personable, slightly chatty, etc.  She tells me she's calling me from Africa (eyebrow up), and that they are going to be moving 'home' soon to a local mansion that they have bought. They are "renewing their vows" (at this point I'm still with her) before flying off to Hawaii and Disneyland, in that order (other eyebrow starting to go up).

She asks if I can do a pillow cake with a crown on it. I say sure. She says, "Because my husband's actually a prince." I'm thinking, "Okay, your husband's a great guy." But she's trying to say he's actual royalty, and she mentions it several more times. I'm unimpressed (sorry). But yes, I can do a crown-on-a-pillow cake.

Her next request is that she wants a 4-foot-tall Faberge design cake, and can I do this? I say that I can, but first I need to know her wedding date. She says, "Oh...you know...soon." We talk about design for a minute. She's obviously ON my website while we're talking, and she compliments me on various cakes.   All throughout her chitchat, she keeps mentioning that her husband "works at the embassy," and that they are "financially comfortable," (starting to lose me here, why does this matter?). She also needs to tell me that her husband, who's a prince, remember, is half-Australian and half-South African, but that her daughter is: White (me: "Huh? So?"). Both eyebrows starting to frown.

She asks about cake tastings and flavors, and we have a somewhat normal conversation about that--what he likes, what she likes, etc.  She still sounds pretty sane.  I tell them they can come in if they want (when they're in the States, that is). She tells me again, "That would be nice, but my husband's...black.  (long pause) But he USED to be white." At this point, I'm like, WTF??

I tell her to send me a web order online and that I will check my calender and see if I'm available (I'm booked thru June heavily, so that's true.). She says she "only" wants to work with me.  Whatever.

I figure I'm not going to hear from her again. Ten minutes later I get an online order with her info (with her name, I kid you not, as "Princess *name withheld*") and that she will take whatever date I want and give me instructions "when they're in the States". The order has no capitalization (even for the name of the mansion), and the design info is...odd and very random (exactly like those Nigerian email scam orders).

I decided to look up her phone number (duh, Poynt, people), and it's a LEWISTON, IDAHO phone number. Okayyyy. So she took her Idaho cell phone to Africa to live? And the name of the "mansion" they're "buying" to live in, in two weeks, is a major wedding venue I dealt with in Spokane all the time, so I called them and said, "Hey, this is Stef--are you guys for sale right now?" Of course we had a bit of a laugh about it, because of course they're not. But really. What's the POINT of all this???

I emailed the, uh, Princess back and said I'd gotten to my desk and that I did not, in fact, have any dates open in June, best luck in the future, etc.

The same day, I got a TEXT from her Idaho cell phone number, with an incredible photo of a Faberge egg vase filled with gorgeous flowers, like this:

 This should be the inspiration for the 4' tall cake she's wanting. 

What. the. heck?  What happened to the crown on a pillow?

She did sound very rational, but yes, she did keep bringing up her husband's skin color, and yes, I swear she said he's black,...but he used to be white... (I let that one go).  I did tell her I don't care what color he is; bring him in.

I decided to call her and tell her I didn't see any June dates open (and I really didn't have time for a 4' cake that month unless I worked 24-hour shifts, even if she WAS for real).   And, NO sending me extra money.  I'm not that gullible.

She also asked me for a local referral to a caterer's number for her upcoming party, and I gave her one.  Afterwards, I started wondering about the whole thing, so I then called THEM and left a message that if an African princess calls to book you for a party, please let me know.

Also I'd love to know what time is it at the South African embassy, when it's 2 pm PST here? Just a thought...

Assuming I'm willing to go along with the fact that, okay, sure, they're royalty and they don't know their next address, then (possibly) I could be looking at a very expensive cake.  The sugar flowers alone would cost a fortune.

Am I supposed to call her Your Majesty next time? What's the protocol for talking with royalty by phone in Idaho? The whole conversation was very pleasant and chatty, albeit surreal and with way too much odd personal info from her ("Did I mention we're rich?" WHO announces that??), and I was driving in heavy traffic at the time, which makes me a little ADD anyway. But maybe she's just an eccentric princess with party-planning time on her hands, who really just loves red velvet cake and wants a 4' Faberge egg made of sugar.  I've seen odder cakes...

Assuming all of that--she also still reminded me very much of a woman we knew when I was a kid, who actually lived with us in the 1970s, who was very schizophrenic and on heavy meds, and when she would go off her meds, she would call me from Seattle when I was 13 and be like, "Hiiii Stef...I'm having a tea party. Do you want to come to my tea party?" And I'd be on the phone looking at my mom, like, "Isn't Diane still in SEATTLE?!? Seven hours away??" Then, "Sure, Diane, I'd love that. Yeah, okay, well, here's my mom." She was very odd when off meds, but in a sweet believable way.

Here's the next chapter.  I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

She called me the next day. I knew it was her, because I saved her in my cell as "Princess XX from Africa LOL." My kids are like, "Answer it!! Do it!"

So, she had now picked a date in July and a venue (the nicest one in the area, and no, she's not living in it this time), and also an alternate venue idea.

Now she has picked a cake design from my website, said she wants exactly that design. Except...She did mention she wants it 6' tall.  I stopped her here and said: "OKAY. First I need to know how many guests are we feeding?" She's like, "About 40." I said, "You realize that, for a cake to be 6' tall, it is going to need a LOT of styrofoam dummies, or you're going to have a ton of leftover cake". She's like, that's okay, I love cake. I said, "No I mean, thousands of dollars worth, of extra cake".

So, she completely switches gears and says that it doesn't matter and to please just copy this 4-tiered round cake on my website, but add some pearls and sugar diamonds to "dress it up".

She picked flavors and fillings for all four tiers, although at one point she said she wants ME to pick all the flavors (huh??? um, no). I reminded her that the cake she's ordering will only be like 18"-20" tall. She said that's fine, it doesn't have to be huge (?). This is all starting to REALLY NOT MAKE SENSE. 

At least she didn't mention anyone's skin color this time, which was a plus.

She did mention that it was 4 a.m. where she is, and that she was "kind of tired, but she that has to get up and deal with all this planning at wierd hours because that's the time difference to get vendors over there during regular hours." (oooohh-kay).

Now she went on to say she still wanted a pillow cake with a crown and gold tassles (because that's a royal color), with a frog inside the crown, because she had to kiss a lot of frogs to get her prince (believable? sure).

I asked her if she's already booked the venue for this event.  She said it's one or the other but hasn't booked yet. (I have calls in to both to check this). She didn't mention moving INto a venue this time, but did say that by that time "their house should be finished".  So apparently, she's still moving here?

The whole time, I'm thinking, she is so rational to visit with and very appreciative of my taking the time to help her with this, etc., etc., that (aside from the original wacky details) that she could be any customer I've talked to, who's planning a cake.

So I wrapped it up with telling her that I will get all her details into a quote and email it to her. If she wants to book it, there's a $100 deposit to hold the date. The balance is due a month before the event. She said that's fine and that her daughter is here in Idaho and can get that to me. (very normal, no offering of extra funds or whatever). She's like, "Oh thank you so much; I know it will be perfect."

Ok, I do have to interject that she did mention some of the cake is being taken BACK to Africa, at which point I said italian meringue icing isn't a good idea for long travel, and she said they'd be using dry ice. (what EVER)

The whole time, I'm thinking what's the POINT of all of this?

I called my bank and totally enthralled the lovely girl there with the story. She now wants to be on the list of updates when this all does/doesn't happen. ("Call me. I mean it.") She said a cashier's check is okay but can be a fraud, and frauds can go for 7 years out, in terms of them being able to suck the funds BACK out of my account if it turns out to be fraudulent.  She said cash of course is best, or a credit card from the daughter and give everything lots of time to clear, etc. Of course my cake contracts state that nothing is refundable after certain dates, etc. And of course I wouldn't let her 'over'pay me (whoops) and ask for a refund on the overage, so I'm covered there.  Basically by now I was just thinking...yep; I'm booked, lady. er, Your Highness... (muffled laughter)

I also took the time to do another reverse lookup of the phone number she'd been calling from-- remember I said it appeared to be a Lewiston number?

Well. It said it's a...(ready?) LANDLINE in Lewiston.

Ok, so how. IN. THE. HECK is she calling me from AFRICA?

I decided I have no idea what is up with this, but she's got to be lying about everything or, as a friend suggested, making her "one phone call from the asylum today" to yank my chain.

So much for rational, sane-sounding lunatics.

"Yes, hello, Room Service? I'd like a glass of water and some Valium. Thanks." --Stef

Late, late post-script:  I never did hear back from her.  Whatever.