The White Rabbit threw two Memorial Day celebrations, on Sunday and Monday. I had to work Monday, so we arrived in the afternoon and left early.
(from left) The Dormouse, The Cousin, Batman
and The Voice engage in conversation
In addition to our host, the White Rabbit; my husband, The Gryphon; and myself, participating were The Dormouse; Batman; The Cousin and her husband, The Photographer, plus their teenage daughters; The Video Editor; The Cheshire Cat and his wife, The Paper; The Voice; The Con Ops Guru; and a couple who are friends with The Cousin, along with their daughter.
The Cousin suggests that I call her friend The Fruit Lady because of her tendency to bring fruit to potluck occasions. She also suggested nicknaming the husband The Quiet Man, because he's a soft-spoken guy.
Everyone had just had some grilled hamburgers when we arrived, and The White Rabbit was happy to grill a Boca Burger for me and some chicken for The Gryphon. We chatted on the back porch with The Cousin, The Photographer, The Voice, The Dormouse, Batman and, when they arrived, The Cheshire Cat and The Paper.
Because of the range of people attending, there was more variety in the food, as well. In addition to burgers and hot dogs, there was chicken, more of the pasta salad The Gryphon and I had brought, a bean salad from The Paper, a Mexican-style casserole from The Fruit Lady, who also brought strawberries and chocolate chips (naturally!). We also had some tasty cheese, and of course, plenty of chips and pretzels.
It's a good thing I'd left the rum, because it was the only alcohol and proved quite popular. Our friends aren't big drinkers, but many of us enjoy a beverage or two while socializing. With other groups, a bottle of rum wouldn't go nearly as far.
The Photographer had brought a set of Bocce balls, a game which I'd never played before. When we'd finished eating, I asked him to teach me how to play it. We were joined by The Quiet Man. At first glance, the game seems remarkably easy. Someone throws out a small wooden ball, and then everyone takes turns trying to toss their large, colored wooden balls as close as possible to the small ball. The goal is to lightly touch it, to "kiss" it, The Photographer exclaimed, hence the name "Bocce." Whoever gets closest wins the round, and it's scored accordingly. I soon learned this was harder than it sounds.
I play Bocce with The Photographer and The Quiet Man
One of the difficulties was learning how hard to throw the balls. They're heavy and smooth, so they can roll quite a distance after they land. Another tricky aspect was reading the terrain and predicting whether a dip or a bump in the lawn would cause the ball to divert from a straight path.
Of all the times we tried, I won the round once, I think. The Photographer had the best record, probably because he'd played it before. In all likelihood, he's played it many times, since he owns the game!
I mingled, then, stopping in different rooms and engaging in conversation. Over the course of the party, I got into a heated discussion about current events with The Cousin, The Dormouse, and some others; an intellectually stimulating conversation about paranormal research, scientific theory and creationism with The Dormouse and The Cheshire Cat; a freewheeling rap session about pop culture and movie-making secrets with The Video Editor, The Cheshire Cat, The Dormouse, The Gryphon, Batman and others; and a pleasant chat about wedding planning with The Fruit Lady. She's agreed to let me interview her for my book, My Wedding, My Way: Real Weddings, Real Women, Real Budgets.
The most noteworthy quote of the day was when The Cousin was talking about her youngest daughter, now a teenager. This daughter, The Cousin told us, enjoyed some sword-fighting video games. "It's not that she's not girlie, but she can swing a sword with the best of them."
I asked her if I could quote her, since I thought that was such an amazing quote, and she wanted to specify that she doesn't let her swing real swords around. Understood. It's still a great quote.
Seeking a little more activity, I asked The Photographer if he was up to throwing around my favorite Frisbee, an aqua disk that dates back at least 30 years. I won it in Sunday School class raffle. We had pretty good luck at first, throwing it back and forth gently. Then I had one wild throw, and the aqua disk went spinning into the neighbor's fenced-in yard, too far away for us to obtain it by use of a garden rake.
If it had been any other flying disk, I would have merely told The White Rabbit to see if he could get it back from his neighbor eventually, but I'm pretty attached to my aqua Frisbee, even though, as The Photographer pointed out, it's beginning to develop a few hairline cracks. So after trying the back gate and discovering it was padlocked, The White Rabbit and I walked over to the neighbor's and knocked on the door.
It took a couple tries, but the neighbor answered, wearing pajamas. He may very well be a second-shift worker, which makes me feel a little guilty about interrupting his sleep. But he was pleasant about it, and he cheerfully handed over his gate key to The White Rabbit, whom he recognized, so that we could free the Frisbee. We thanked him profusely.
From the neighbor's porch, I spotted My College Roommate, who had just arrived carrying the remnants of her son's third birthday cake.
I took a small sliver of cake, just to get a taste, and then walked down into the basement, where a number of people were playing Rock Band. I waited until they finished the song, which was "Creep," and then announced there was cake. Predictably, The Cousin's two daughters immediately squealed and ran upstairs to grab some.
The Con Ops Guru, The Cousin's eldest daughter, The Video Editor
and The Cousin's youngest daughter play Rock Band
Although I hadn't planned it that way, it worked out really well for me, because I got to sit in for a few songs on vocals until they returned. Since we were down one musician, The White Rabbit played drums. Like I had, he struggled the first time out but then did better, much to the delight of the girls, who congratulated their uncle and gave him high-fives.
I got a little moral support from the youngest daughter, who sat just behind my right shoulder and sang along on a song I didn't know as well. I told her that if I hadn't had her help, I wouldn't have gotten such a good score.
We had to leave, then, for me to get home in time for my work, but we stayed for one last song. The Photographer was singing a song by The Ramones, and I had to stay for that. He sang his heart out and got a perfect score. We all had fun on that one. I did drums and surprised myself by doing a lot better than the previous day. As they say, practice makes perfect!
Bocce is harder than it looks. Drums get easier with practice.