We've tried a lot of different things since starting our bon bon business. Early customers will remember events like our Grapes and Crepes Parties, Dinner and a Movie, our wine tastings, and perhaps one of the most unique services we ever offered: my singing telegrams. From my first singing telegram (for a urologist named Dr. Love) to my most recent singing telegram (a milestone birthday celebration), I've encountered some interesting and memorable situations.
I've sang at baby showers, birthday parties, anniversary parties, and corporate annual meetings. I've been the bearer of sweet Valentine's Day greetings, the "I'm Sorry" for boyfriends who've misbehaved, and the "Congratulations" for a college graduate whose parents thought I would be a fun addition to his post-graduation beach house bash. (The jury's still out on that one....)
One year, I delivered a singing telegram in a crowded restaurant the day after Christmas. I was so exhausted from the holiday rush that while singing the song I started to feel faint. I got to the very last note, sang it with gusto, and promptly passed out on the floor. When I came to, my hat was across the floor, my jacket was undone, a doctor was leaning over me, and an ambulance was on its way. My first words were: "Wait until you see what I do for an encore!". That singing telegram was on me--the poor gentleman who ordered it got much more of a show than he had bargained for! And it remains my most memorable telegram ever.
Here are five more of my most unforgettable singing telegrams:
5. The Gambler. This singing telegram took place at the Landfall Country Club for a swinging 35th birthday bash of a guy who loves to gamble. Setting the song to the tune of The Gambler was an obvious choice. The crowd enjoyed it so much that they even tried to join in at the end (which proved difficult since they didn't know the custom lyrics I had written and I didn't have a teleprompter!) Here is the chorus:
You're thirty-five now, see I told 'em, so you might as well just fold 'em,
Your days of bluffin’ are over, and your youth is on the run.
Don’t ever count your candles when the cake is on the table.
The numbers just get worse from here, ‘til one day the dealin’s done.
4. Bon Qui Qui. Because I personalize song lyrics, I often get some pretty challenging requests. I've been asked to tease an adult about the time he got so drunk he wet the bed. I've been asked to mention deceased relatives in a song. I've been asked to make reference to numerous inside jokes. Perhaps one of the most unusual requests I have received was to include material from a comedian's act on Bon Qui Qui. More about that singing telegram in this blog post!
3. Duke Ladd Parties If you're not familiar with Duke Ladd, you should be! He's an incredibly talented pianist and musician. I've had the good fortune of showing up at a few parties where Duke has been hired to play piano as entertainment for the evening. Duke is so incredibly talented, he can pick up on the key I'm singing in and create instant background music to accompany any singing telegram I've written. Although we've never rehearsed together, our impromptu numbers are always tons of fun, for me and the audience. Duke follows in a way that allows all of the jokes in the singing telegram to shine, and I'm sure people think we've practiced ahead of time, but it's all just fun and fabulous improv.
2. Fancy Nancy One of my all-time favorite "singing telegrams" didn't involve singing at all! I was asked to come to a little girl's slumber party dressed as the "fancy" Bon Bon Queen and do a reading of the children's book, Fancy Nancy. Here's how the evening turned out.
1. The Fireman "Why do you only perform singing telegrams in public places?", people often ask. Well, it's all because of the fireman. In the early days, a woman called because she wanted me to perform a singing telegram for her boyfriend, a fireman. The plan was that I would surprise him at the station, and sing in front of all of his firemen friends. Now, this sounded like pure heaven. I thought it could possibly be the best singing telegram ever (at least for me!).
But the day of his birthday, Mr. Fireman decided to take the day off. He called in sick and stayed at home. His distraught girlfriend called me and begged me to still perform the telegram, but at their house instead. I drove to the house and rang the bell, but no one answered. I knocked several times, still no answer. I called the girlfriend. "No one is answering the door; perhaps he's not home?", I asked. She assured me that he was there and begged me to try again. (My policy is that if I show up for a singing telegram and the recipient is not there, I still charge for the service.) I agreed to try one more time. I rang the bell and knocked again.
This time, the fireman opened the door. Wearing nothing but a towel. Standing on a strange guy's doorstep wearing a giant cake on my head and singing to him while he is dripping wet and practically naked is not nearly as fun as it may sound. It was awkward and embarrassing for both of us. Kind of like that scene in Elf when Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) sings a song for his new-found father, Walter (James Caan). Only the scene lasted for 2 minutes instead of 10 seconds. The fireman prompted a new policy: The Bon Bon Queen only performs singing telegrams in public venues or at large parties. No single serenades for me, thank you very much.
As I hang up my hat and "retire" from doing singing telegrams, I'm silently singing "Thanks for the Memories" It's been great fun being surprised by the requests of our customers who hired me to surprise others.