On Saturday, The Gryphon and I attended a party held by The Green Man and The Linguist at their suburban home. The party was to celebrate the acceptance of The Linguist to the University of Penn to study language. This is actually the first time I've given her a nickname, although we'd attended a Halloween party at their home a couple years ago. As regular readers know, I often wait to assign nicknames until one becomes apparent.
A party guest grills veggies
The evite said the party would start at 3, but we didn't leave the house until 3:30. It took longer than we expected to get there, because we got lost along the way. We took the wrong way at a split in the road, and by the time we figured it out, we were far from where we were supposed to be. The Gryphon called The Linguist to figure out where we went wrong. When she asked where we were, I said, "Tell her we're in Holland." All the street signs had Dutch names on them.
But with her guidance, we retraced our steps and found it. We knew we were in the right place when we saw all the cars and heard happy voices.
We headed directly inside to greet The Linguist and drop off the food we'd brought, as well as to give her the congratulations card we'd brought. Our food contribution was a veggie tray, as well as Boca burgers, since The Linguist had suggested bringing vegetarian items for the grill. As I was talking to her, a guy in a CBGBs shirt showed up. He had brought some tofu hot dogs, so we both took our items out to the deck, where they had separate grills set up for meat and for vegetarian food. I thought that was especially considerate.
Since we didn't actually get there until 5, I was already hungry. I sampled some of the delicious hummus The Linguist had made, along with some dried pita bread and some of the fresh veggies I'd brought, taking them outside to wait for my Boca burger to be grilled.
There, I chatted with The Horror Film Buff, who was attending with his wife, The Seamstress. We don't get to see The Horror Film Buff very often in the summer, since that's a busy time for his heating and cooling business.
I also spoke for a while to the guy in the CBGBs shirt, telling him that I'd read poetry once in the basement of the famed punk club, at a reading organized by the now-defunct literary magazine, Poetry New York. He said he'd seen several bands there, none of them major. In fact, he could no longer remember who he'd seen. We talked for a while about college radio, since both of us hosted shows back in the day. I explained to him The Caverns of Your Mind, my freewheeling Friday-night program, and he told me he hosted a punk show (naturally).
I was trying to explain to him who the Bonzo Dog Band were when another party guest overheard and piped in, "Oh, The Rutles." She knew all about Neil Innes and the Bonzos, and is a Monty Python fan, to boot. Then she surprised me by saying she remembered them from her high school days in the '60s. I took a good look at her and said, "Get out! You look 20 years younger than that!"
"Bless your heart," she said. Then she introduced us to her husband, a gray-bearded musician who's actually several years younger than her. This got us talking about musical instruments, and it turns out that both guys had brought their guitars to the party. I suggested they ought to jam out later.
When the Boca burgers and tofu hot dogs were ready, we each grabbed our food, and I took a chair near The Gryphon, who was talking to The Horror Film Buff and some people he knows from PAGE (Philadelphia Area Gaming Enthusiasts).
The Gryphon socializing on the porch.
One of the PAGE members was a guy wearing a shirt with flames on it. Another regular player I'll nickname The Goth Grrl, because she's actually appeared in a video by a Goth musician, Voltaire, and because she's worn a black corset to at least two parties I've attended.
The Horror Film Buff was picking on her, because she was texting on her iPhone almost constantly. Most everyone agreed she should pay attention to the people around her instead. But she refused to stop, trying to text surreptitiously, apparently mesmerized by her new tech toy.
She claimed later that she was trying to contact a friend for whom she was doing an important favor that week: dog sitting, I believe. At the time, though, she didn't explain herself but, instead, showed off the iPhone and all its nifty options, such as an automatic dice-rolling program.
"It's a $500 set of dice," The Gryphon joked.
We also spoke with a guy I'll refer to as The Filmmaker, because he's acted in and directed some short films and aspires to do more. He's also one of the organizers of Philcon, as were many of the party guests.He's always a lot of fun, given to witty remarks, and he's frequently the life of the party.
Before long, we were joined by a tall red-haired woman with a definite presence about her. I firmly believe that, if she wanted to, she could but raise her hand and the hills would do her bidding, so I'll nickname her The Celtic Goddess.
At one point, she was discussing her shared past with some of the other partygoers, and she happened to mention she'd been married once before, though she's happily married now for a second time, with children. So, without thinking about it, I said, "Oh, you had a starter marriage to," and mentioned that I, too, had been married and divorced before finding The Gryphon. I regretted my words as soon as they were out of my mouth, remember that one of the party guests is currently going through a divorce and was within hearing range.
The Celtic Goddess launched into the saga of her divorce, which was anything but amicable, and all I could do was apologize for having brought up a painful memory. Fortunately, she decided not to smite me for my ill-thought wording.
People were in generally high spirits, and amusingly, people kept overhearing words wrong. For example, the guy at the grill was calling out, "Corn! I have corn!" Both me and the guy in the flame shirt initially heard a very different word, which had The Gryphon wondering aloud if he should be concerned that we'd both think the same thing.
Another time, The Gryphon told me that the neighbors had been invited, pointing to a dark-haired woman at the table. This was in reference to me having noticed her chatting with someone on her front lawn as we arrived. I had speculated that she was watching all the cars pull up and wondering aloud why she hadn't been invited. But for some reason, I misheard The Gryphon and said, "What? The animals have been invited?", provoking inadvertent laughter. After similar things happened several times, I said this party needed captions.
Several small children attended the party, kept occupied with squirt guns. Every once in a while, the adults would fill them from the spigot, and then the kids would run around in the back yard, squealing happily. Of course, they were too young to engage in any sort of organized battles. Instead, they ran together in a little pack. When they got tired of shooting at each other, they created a communal art project, "painting" a concrete wall with swirls of water.
I stood on the deck and watched them as I spoke to the party guest who was grilling, since he was making more corn (with a "C"), and I wanted to get some.
I told him that many of my friends have had children within the last few years. While The Gryphon and I are planning to do likewise within the next few years, by then there will be something of an age difference between our child and our friends' children. I noticed how well the different ages of children were playing together, and I told him that made me feel better about the situation. This got us talking about our families, because while my sister is seven years younger than me, we're good friends. He told me that he has two older brothers, one of whom is a good decade older than him, and he gets along with them well. It was nice to hear.
He had also provided the home-brewed porter which was on tap, and he and his brewing buddy, who was sporting a pastel tie-dye (yay! another hippie geek!) explained the characteristics of the beer, at my request. I was surprised to learn they'd added a little bit of hot pepper, just for the bite. They had made the porter from a colonial-era recipe, and I have to say it was quite good, if stronger than I expected.
I was in a conversation with some other people when The Gryphon called me. He wanted to direct my attention toward a new guest who'd just arrived, bringing with her a beautiful Russian Wolfhound named Peaches. She was very friendly, gentle-natured and soft, and she stood as high as my waist, which meant you could pet her without bending down. Peaches was happy to be there, and she enjoyed exploring the yard as well as meeting party guests. I tried to get a good picture of her, but had trouble because she wouldn't stay still. Finally, I got one of her with her owner, which shows her size, and another decent profile shot.
The Browncoat arrived soon afterwards and was very happy to see me. She apologized for not having called me after her surprise party in February, when we'd talked about getting together. I told her not to worry, that I get busy, too.
She surprised me by actively working to organize a group of people to have dinner and then go to my poetry reading at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 14 at the Milk Boy Acoustic Cafe in Bryn Mawr. Of all the writing forms, poetry is the least understood, and I've had problems in the past drumming up interest in my work, so I was touched she was being so enthusiastic. I'm looking forward to having my own cheering section at the event.
Since the porter was stronger than expected, I didn't have anything more to drink until much later in the party, when one of the PAGE members suggested I try a fruit punch she'd made. There was very little liquid left, but The Seamstress helped me dig out a few orange slices. She also gave me a small amount of bourbon (not even a jigger). I cut myself off afterwards, since I know that I'm a lightweight.
I was proud of myself for staying in control around the food, too. Except for sampling small slivers of the home-baked desserts that people had brought, nearly all the food I ate was healthy. Of course, I made it easier on myself by deliberately staying outside, away from the table where the bulk of the food was kept. Unfortunately, this meant that I didn't get much face time with our host and hostess, who held court inside. In fact, I didn't realize until I reviewed my pictures later that neither of them were in any of them!
The Seamstress was in good spirits, seemingly very relaxed, which was good to see. The last time I'd seen her, she'd been rather stressed out. We chatted about a cruise she was going to be taking with The Horror Film Buff and with her mother, in the fall after the heating and cooling business slows down. She told me about all the preparations that are necessary, including a passport, and she seemed a bit bemused about the prospect of hanging out on a cruise ship where the main attraction is a casino, with a mother who gets seasick and doesn't gamble!
Another fairly late arrival was Dr. DJ, who came with his wife, whom I'll nickname The Giggler, at The Gryphon's suggestion. She's well-known for her infectious, bubbly laughter. She especially enjoyed the fruit punch, and after having a little, drifted from conversation to conversation, giggling at everything.
Near the end of the party, I learned that people were toasting marshmallows at a little fire in the side yard, so I made my way down.
There, I roasted marshmallows with a group that included a couple PAGE members, Goth Grrl, The Seamstress and a few older children, one of whom told me that she also likes Monty Python, although I no longer remember how that conversation started. Reminds me of how I devoured all my parents' music from the '60s, becoming a lifelong fan of all those bands.
After we'd tired of marshmallows, and after the children left, we got into some nonsensical conversations. I mentioned that I'd seen a story that week saying that processed meats led to an increased risk of colon cancer, and suddenly everyone was saying, "Mmmm. Polyps." We talked about selling a breakfast cereal called "Polyps," spelled a fun way (like maybe "Poll Ips") to fool the public. It would be made of processed meat.
Someone picked a piece of grass, turning it into a simple wind instrument by stretching it taut between two thumbs and blowing. The rest of us, who had learned this trick as girls, tried to join suit, but the grass was too short and thin to make a good sound.
The Seamstress said, "I need a wide one." We collapsed in laughter, and I asked her if we could quote her out of context.
Then a female PAGE member (for whom I have yet to come up with a nickname), said, "This one was fine for a while, but you blow on it a couple of times and it gets all limp." We all laughed for a long time about that one.
The guy in the CBGBs shirt joined us at the campfire, softly strumming his guitar. The Giggler came by, giggled and wandered across the grassy lawn. We rehearsed aloud what we would tell Dr. DJ later: "The last we saw of her she was giggling and wandering across the field." Hearing us, she returned to the fire, and she was greatly amused by our loud professions that we'd been "blowing grass" and were now all dizzy and lightheaded.
At about this time, The Gryphon appeared in front of me and knelt down, smiling gently, pointing to his watch and reminding me we had a long drive home. So I reluctantly wished everybody good-bye.
As we were leaving, I discovered that I'd dropped my Pirates of the Caribbean pen, which I'd stuck in my camera case so that I could keep track of what I ate on a piece of paper. A silly thing, but it has some sentimental value, since I bought it on our honeymoon. I decided not to make a big deal of it, but The Seamstress must have heard me talking about it, because much to my delight, she sent me an e-mail this morning, telling me that they'd found it and she would return it to me through The Horror Film Buff, who is also a PAGE member. Truly a good group of people, these friends whom I met through The Gryphon, and I'm happy I've gotten to know them.
If you hear someone calling "Porn! I've got porn!", you probably misheard him.