Saturday was the day of my sister and her husband's barbecue. We got up fairly early in the morning, then had some coffee to kick-start ourselves into action. The party wasn't until 5, but there was plenty to do.
After having a light breakfast, I changed into the clothes I'd brought for cleaning and offered to help any way I could. My sister had me help her clean up the downstairs to prepare for the guests. Even though we were planning on being mostly outside, the inside still needed to be presentable. Even the microwave, apparently.
My sister consulted me on what to wear to the party, and I lent her a pink top, which she paired with a green skirt and polka-top blouse. Then we drove to the grocery store for more tortilla shells for The Gryphon's taquitos.
We considered getting a generic birthday cake, but they didn't have any chocolate ones, so my sister opted against it. Then we stopped at the beer distributor and got a couple cases of Yuengling lager.
By the time we returned, both Dad and Mom had arrived, separately. They offered to help, but there wasn't much for them to do. I took a shower and changed into my party outfit: a summery teal skirt with flowers at the hem, paired with a chocolate-brown V-neck with lace embellishments and a sleeveless jacket.
We took the dogs for a walk, along with The Gryphon and Dad. The cicadas seemed even more prevalent than the day before, perhaps because the path we took contained lots of trees. Cicadas were falling on us as we walked. Good thing we knew they were harmless.
When we returned, we hung out in the living room talking while we awaited the first guest. At about a quarter of five, we took the dogs upstairs with a bowl of water, to lock them in my sister's bedroom. This way they wouldn't be underfoot, especially as eight children were expected. Children can be unpredictable around dogs, and we didn't want to have to watch our dogs constantly to make sure they were OK.
Soon after 5, the first guest arrived. We set food out on the table, and my sister's husband fired up the grill.
Now, my sister had sent out evites and was expecting 30 to 40 people. However, the weather forecast called for a 30 percent chance of thundershowers, which might have influenced who came to an outdoor party. Overall, about 20 to 22 people arrived, including four children.
Most of the guests were coworkers of my sister and her husband, from the Penn State Library, where they're both currently working as my sister completes her education degree. There were a few others I recognized from having met earlier. I got to meet, in person, a friend of my sister's whom she met while working at a jewelry store. I'd interviewed her over the phone for my wedding book, My Wedding, My Way: Real Women, Real Weddings, Real Budgets.
Within a fairly short period of time, burgers and taquitos were ready, and we announced that food was served. In addition, there was corn bread brought by Mom, regular bread, salad brought by Mom, Italian fruit salad, homemade potato salad made by my sister's husband, a light egg custard dish, shrimp, beef chili, cookies, and some light brownies made by Mom. She was smart about cutting her contributions into small servings, which made them last longer.
A good friend of my sister's husband brought some Coronas, along with lime slices for inside. Another friend brought a nice selection of sodas, so there were beverages for everyone.
Since my sister had asked people to bring chairs if they had them, we had plenty of seats for everyone, when combined with the lawn furniture she already owned. Soon, the lawn was ringed with people sitting on chairs and enjoying their food. The kids, after eating, played with a Thomas the Tank Car toy they'd brought with them. They also checked out the cicadas, which especially intrigued the young boys, who convinced their mom to let them take a cicada shell home to study under the microscope.
I spent time talking to Mom, knowing she was planning on leaving early. She had to work fairly early the next day. She had enough time, though, to socialize for a little and enjoy some food.
While I took a few pictures during the party, I failed to realize that the camera was set to focus on objects close up. Therefore, most of the pictures are blurry. They give an impressionist view of the party.
Right about the time people were finishing their food, the sky grew darker and the cicadas hushed. A few drops of moisture fell, just enough to make everyone pack up their chairs. The parents of young children said their good-byes, along with a couple others. This was probably good, though, because those who were left could easily fit in my sister's living room.
After my sister gave people a tour of the house, the dogs barked and whined. When the last child went home, we let the dogs out. Una was full of energy, running around the room, trying to make friends. If she got too enthusiastic and tried to crawl into someone's lap, we told them to say no and push her off. She actually calmed down within a fairly short time, especially after I took her in the yard to relieve herself.
As we were talking, someone said to one of the library workers, "What about watching that movie you were in?" He'd been in a locally produced movie called Hooray for Mr. Touchdown, written and directed by Penn State film professor Rod Bingaman. Everyone was interested in viewing it, so we put it in.
I thought at first that the film might just be a short film, but it was actually a feature. It was a very well-done period piece, set in 1932 at a generic college, featuring a star football player, Deke Chambers (Jeff Bearden) and his coed girlfriend (Mandy Brown). He runs into trouble with the local gangsters, who want to fix the big game.
The film was a skillful tribute to the movies of that time period, complete with rapid-fire dialogue full of period slang. The actors seemed to have fun with it, delivering their lines with the aw-shucks enthusiasm you'd expect from a '30s sports matinee.
Bingaman also paid close attention to costumes, makeup and locations. In fact, we had a lot of fun figuring out where different scenes were shot, mostly in State College and Bellefonte, including some Penn State classroom buildings, such as Rec Hall, and Memorial Field, the football field for the State College High School. The field is unique: sunken down into the earth and surrounded with stone walls. Very period looking.
The guy who'd brought the movie was only in a couple scenes, but we had fun spotting him at both a pep rally scene and at the big game near the end.
I did a quick search but couldn't find the film for sale anywhere. The copy he had, he said, was given to him by the director. Rod Bingaman's production company is Ma & Pa Pictures. Maybe I'll contact him and find out if I can purchase a copy. I'd love to show this film to others; we had a lot of fun watching it and laughing along.
I was an extra in a number of student films back in the day, but they were all shot on film, and I never got videotaped copies. In fact, the only student film I got that wasn't one of my own video projects was by a friend of mine, who used to host the radio show I produced. He gave me a videotaped copy of his senior film.
After the movie ended, people said their good-byes, and soon everybody but us family had left. We didn't stay up much longer, but we did go onto the porch for a little to watch distant thunder and lightning. I went inside when Una started to get scared.
Even though we didn't have as many people as we'd expected, my sister thanked us for helping her throw a fun party.
Rain can scare off potential barbecue guests.