Now it is high summer and the time for attending parties, barbecues, and random get-togethers.
Awful, isn’t it.
Yours truly has never been a party person (though I can play that role if cornered, but must always take a 6-week sabbatical afterwards). Because my wife IS decidedly one, a 24-hour party person, that is – I employ some coping strategies (you know, to keep the marriage on the smooth asphalt and not that side road, with all the boulders and potholes). Here’s the formula, for those of you of that bent: Happy wife = happy life.
I will go to a party and will generally gravitate to (after seeing what is on offer at the refreshment tables) whomever seems to be at a loose end. We will, hopefully bond, as fellow outcasts. I will usually employ the ‘what’s your passion’ strategy, as opposed to ‘what do you do to keep the wolf from the door’, which is a much less interesting conversation, generally. (Oh you’re in IT. Wilt’s brain scrambles for some conversational common ground. He decides, ‘Heh heh, now everything’s in the cloud, I like clouds, my favourite’s cumulus’ is less than ideal) ‘What’s your passion‘ usually opens up a very rich conversation, I would highly recommend it, as a general rule.
I am usually interrupted in my excellent one-on-one by the arrival of a long-lost acquaintance of the ‘outcast’, and am cast aside like a soiled Kleenex. To save face, I will talk nonsensically into my smart phone, or my car alarm key fob, if the phone is not readily available.
All this conversational dexterity and acts of subterfuge is, in the end, extremely exhausting. There is only so much party I can take – I mean, being ‘on’ takes its toll, both mentally and physically. My charisma starts to waver eventually, and I begin to cast about – looking for an escape route. Where’s a Barnes and Noble when you need one? Would it be offensive to pull out Infinite Jest and bury my nose in it? If that is drywall, I should be able to punch my way through – I’ll do a test kick with my shoe heel.
I usually have quite a stable of books on my smart phone, which I can peruse, while appearing to be doing some ‘important’ work. Creasing your forehead, sticking your tongue out of a corner of your mouth, ensures that you will a) not be disturbed and b) appear to be involved in loftier pursuits.
Party codes. These can be employed when verbal communication is not possible between 2 persons. These codes can convey important messages that, if verbalized, might cause, well . . . I like to call it ‘unpleasantness’. Do you WANT to be invited to future parties? Yes, a hard NO. This is real life, though.
Here are the party codes. You’re welcome and enjoy your summer.
Bring the car to the front with the engine running.
Bail me out of this conversation.
My/your boss is in the next room.
I have used up all my party witticisms. Shall we depart?
As comedian Paul F. Tompkins alluded to, in one of his hilarious routines, everything we do is done to avoid getting yelled at. Just by standing in the wrong line, we are vulnerable to getting yelled at. Isn’t it the worst? I immediately revert to childhood and become sullen and self-defensive. If there is anything to kick on the ground, I will kick it. Well, I didn’t know, and I did not see that giant sign in day-glo letters.
There is one omission – the boss. It goes without saying that he/she may communicate through yelling only. Oh, and plus I just forgot!
My mother has recently retired from her job as a supervision aide at an elementary school. She has decided to set her sights on getting a dog, preferably through the usual rescue channels. My sister and I have been working day and night (well, day anyway) to make this happen, but with no luck so far.
Obtaining a rescued dog (not a rescue dog, which, to me, is a rum-toting Saint Bernard) is not as easy as it sounds, in spite of the fact that she has owned 3 dogs previously. The criteria list is long, which is fair enough, since these are creatures who cannot speak for themselves. My own mother’s criteria list is equally lengthy: must have floppy ears, must be female, must be over one year old (puppies are a non-starter for her), and must be medium-sized. Non-smoking, of course.
Every few months or so, some rock star trailers come up from the States (California usually, even Mexico) with a motley group of up to 40 pooches. They are quickly snapped up, each dog receiving dozens of applications for ownership. In fact, such is the furor, that a lottery system has had to be used. Sadly, our number has never come up.
We continue to plod on. So, immersed are we in our task, that it has inhabited my dreams – the titular dream, which I will now relate.
Fade in to my parents’ house. The sound of a whining and movement comes from within. I enter, my heart lifting, as it appears that my mother has finally obtained a dog on her own. As I enter the house, I notice chairs on their side, broken crockery, and glass strewn on the ground, along with red scraps, which appear to be raw meat. A resounding crash from the kitchen punctuates the silence. I enter, and to my shock, a bear cub is seen capering on the floor.
The sight of this filters into my sluggish dream brain. My mother, in a desperate gambit, has taken the bear cub with a view to ‘domestication’. I relate to her the tradition of bear cubs growing to many times their current size, and the present danger of a bear cub cavorting in the house, with the mother bear lurking nearby, no doubt. This does not produce the effect I had hoped, and she throws more scraps of meat (it is bacon) onto the kitchen floor.
She is skeptical of my advice (I am no zoologist), and asks me to run it by my father. He, too, is not a zoologist, but an engineer, which gives him a tenuous authority. He echoes my concerns. This should have ended things, but our discussion is interrupted by a keening sound, coming from another part of the house. It would be just typical for a dream to contain a nonsequiteur such as a dog, never mentioned by my mother, ensconced in another part of the house a la Jane Eyre. It is not a dog, although it is in the neighbourhood. My mother has captured a wild coyote and has it penned up in the master bedroom, a contingency, in case the bear cub does not work out, I suppose. At that point, I throw up my hands, and leave the house for the relative comfort of my wife and two teens.
ODE to a Broken AC Unit
idle it sits in its place
gatherin’ dust and wasting space
in winter that window does leak
making bedroom weather rather bleak
one day that unit will descend to
The ground as all things tend to.
Then in summer AC again will be imposed
Cool breezes from the hole exposed.