Winter Wonder Party
My car slides on thick ice halfway up the driveway to the party. I should have been in bed hours ago.
I hit a rock. Nothing major, but enough to send me back down the driveway, sliding in reverse, where I resolve to park and walk the rest of the way. I walk a quarter of a mile up, through ice and snow, then up twelve railrod tie steps, I push the sliding glass door open and am greeted by a rucous:
“Kaaaaaaatey!!!!!!!!!!!” Cheers all around. House pets howl. Toasts ensue.
I am, after all, four hours late to the party. Everyone is drunk or on their way to it, which is good – because it means that no one notices I have not brought an appetizer or a party activity. Previously, the hostess warned me that this would be my admission to the party.
I pour myself a glass of wine and watch the current activity: See If You Can Walk Across the Room With A Quarter Stuck Between You Ass Crack (Pants On) and Drop It Into A Glass Jar. I arrive at the climax of the game. One contender remains and has just successfully pinged the quarter into the glass jar. The man, a joyful adult in his fifties with galloping grey hair and Santa’s belly, raises two arms in the air like a champ. Yes! He has qualified for the final round.
This activity is followed by body shots, which takes me back immediately to Mark Stribling and Whitman College. We never dated, yet we carried an indescribable body shot dynamic to parties that left crowds howling for more. A party favorite was when our body shots started in a chair and ended with both our feet in the air. Imagine that .
The party digressed into small, very drunk chatter but still maintains an air of maturity. Most people discuss philosophical issues about their own lives, or big-picture stuff like how children teach us profound lessons and what life was like before Vietnam. That’s not to say that my conversations weren’t interrupted by occasional random phrases that seemed to momentarily dominate the room (ex. “PENIS JOUSTING!”).
Why and how do I end up at this party? The truth is, I know almost every person in the room and call them close friends. They’ve just finished teaching their hearts out at a school I used to work for and are celebrating the end of the semester. My parents are included in this bunch and I’m actually proud of that.
I leave early (the cold has still got me) but feel oddly fulfilled. After three snow days, there’s nothing like a total social waterfall to re-initiate one’s self back into “reality.” The gravel roads are still too icy and I debate: Hike half a mile in eighteen degree weather on an icy road while carrying a backpack up to my cabin? Or crash on the couch at my folks’ house just two hundred yards ‘round the bend.
I choose the latter because I can drive my car almost right up to the back door of the house. I don’t need my headlights to finish the drive. The moon is full and reflects off the snow like a mirror in the noonday sun.