Well actually, it doesn't feel depressing, but it certainly has taken a big hit out of my motivational git up and go. This is one of those days where I may lay down a time or two.
First, let me say that the party seemed to be a big hit in all the areas where it counts. The weather went between sunny, cloudy, a few drops, and back to sunny. It was neither too warm nor too cold. Everybody seemed happy with the food, drink and companionship. The kids were able to entertain themselves with a frisby and a bocce ball set while the adults bowed in adulation to the queen of the day.
There was a lot of running around between the hours of 8 AM and when the party started at 4 PM. It would not have come off as it did without the help of many people. There was the family (well, Dad) who dropped off about 20 tables and 60 chairs. There were the pre-party deliveries of pasta salads and container after container of bars and brownies. There was the person who helped me print off (AND laminate) the "No Parking This Side" signs (read, she did it all). There were the people who took it upon themselves to change the bags in the garbage and recycling bins. There were the offers to run off to the store for forgotten or exhausted supplies. Too many thankyou's to mention, but I do have a couple of special ones to say.
First to my sister, L, who arrived early, stayed late, and helped keep the show running inside the house. Second, to my neighbor and the queen's scoutmaster, S, who co-ran the kitchen and made an emergency run to the butcher's when the impossibly tall mountain of meat we started with threatened to run out (amazingly enough, shortly after the arrival of a pro-football player and his family).
I mostly wandered about in a daze, not quite sure if it was all really happening. I had hundreds of short conversations with so many old friends, always breaking away to welcome a new arrival or to bid adieu to a departing one. When not responding to an emergency that is.
We had a few.
While mowing the lawn early in the day, I managed to run over the temporary phone line that had been put in last winter. Amazing what a power mower can do to a rather stout set of wires. Well that meant a call to Qwest where I expected to be lost in phone-system-voice-mail-hell, but I actually got to talk to a real human who could speak a version of English that sounded just like mine, and she said that they would get someone right out there and fix it - no problem. WTF? Had I entered the twilight zone?
Meanwhile, I went out and McGyver'd a solution with a couple of electrical connectors so that we at least had service.
Then there came the running around phase where either my daughter or I was out picking up things. This went on right down to the wire. There was a bit of panic when it was discovered that one of the caterers did not receive the order placed on line, causing my daughter to have palpitations, but some quick thinking on her part and a bit of mapquest sent my sister off in search of the replacement food items.
Meanwhile, I had arrived home with the beer, wine, and ice which was immediately put into service turning my garden cart into a very large cooler on wheels.
Then the guests started to arrive and everything began to blur. About two hours later, I was still trying to find the beer I had set down two hours before, when one of the kitchen wenches popped their head into the garage and made frantic motions for me to come thither.
"We have a minor emergency," she said. I immediately thought that one of my relatives decided to settle a family feud while standing in close proximity with the knife drawer. Or that someone had fallen backwards over one of the stair railings as they attempted to take a closer look at one of the queen's many posted pictures. Or, the gas line had ruptured and we would have to immediately have to abandon the house (wheeling the beer in front of us, of course).
"What is it?" I whispered in a conspiratorial tone. "We're almost out of meat," was the response. "What will we do?"
Pictures of the Donner Party started reeling through my head. "Quick," I said. "I'll make a run to the butcher's" and get more. But more of what, I asked myself.
As I pondered this in the way that a slightly befuddled and addled old person might do, I was wandering vaguely in the direction of the front door, which was going against the traffic flow, and as any salmon will tell you, that's not the way to get to your destination. In fact, I kept getting distracted from my meat problem by new arrivals who needed greetings and small snippets of conversation before I was able to turn once again in my intended direction and take another step or two.
It was in this fashion that I eventually reached my daughter, who was holding down her position as the primary greeter with all of the fortitude of Davey Crocket at the Alamo. And just when I thought I had broken clear of the throng and I had the front door in my sights, my daughter said, "Dad, why is the septic alarm going off?"
What? She rolled her eyes in her particular fashion and said, "Can't you hear that?" And then I could. It was that dreaded sound that meant that at any moment we might have a new color combination for our downstairs carpet. What a good thing to be happening when we had several hundred pissing and pooping guests wandering about. That little incident completely knocked the missing meat emergency out of my head as I made a bee-line for the door and headed off through the hedge, across the bocce ball pitch (taking my life in my hands as the teens playing did so as if they were playing baseball and using the good old overhand technique) and then down the hill to where the "native flora" grew in jungle like profusion and the mosquitoes were larger than B57's.
Some of you may recall an episode last winter where I had taken the same path when our pump out pipe froze. Same place, different time. Off came the cover. Sure enough, the surface of the fluid below was high enough to float the alarm switch, and by the sound of the flowage coming in, at lease 100 of the guests had somehow squeezed themselves into the bathrooms and were pissing a volume equivalent to Niagara Falls. I think maybe a couple of homeless people had probably infiltrated as well and were doing their laundry amidst the festivities.
OK, "think" I thought, as I scrambled back up the hill pursued by a squadron of killer mosquitoes. What to do? Well, get a multi-meter and go back down to see if the electrical connection to the pump has juice. Better check the breaker boxes at the same time, and oh, better grab a beer.
These were the thoughts that were running around my head as I approached the house and suddenly there was a face in front of mine that rang a bell - something about meat, I thought.
"So, do you want me to go?" she asked. Go? No, don't go. I need you in the kitchen, I thought. What came out of my mouth was closer to "Gaaghhh"
"No," she said. "Do you want me to go and get some more meat?" Oh, ummm, yeah, sure. "Good idea" I said as I tossed her the car keys and pelted down the stairs into the basement in search of my multi-meter, my daughter screaming after me to "Shut off the fucking alarm."
In one room in the bowels of the house, I found my meter and checked the breakers. All looked good. Fuck I thought. That would have been too simple. Then to the utility room where the septic alarm is housed. I wrote in an earlier post about this shrill instrument of torture that must have been designed by an alien race of insectoid lineage devoid of ears. I quickly grabbed the screwdriver kept on the shelf for just such emergencies and immediately flung one of the critical screws off in some direction when I received a small but surprisingly effective jolt of electricity as my fingers strayed off of the wooden handle of the screwdriver and onto the metal blade at which time I discovered that standing bare-foot on damp cement makes a good connection to the earth.
Using a bit more care, I was able to finally disable the alarm and decided that now was a perfect time for that beer I mentioned earlier. And so I found myself eventually, back in the garage where this all started and attempting to reach the ice tub holding the beerskies while being accosted on all sides by those wishing to know what emergency had pulled me away from their company just a short time before, and why was I carrying a multi-meter?
After trying to make up a fresh and different story for every questioner, I finally reached the beer vault and snatched an icy cold one to fortify myself as I once again left the warm, convivial enclave of the garage with all of its gaily decorated tables for another run through the bocce gauntlet and a descent into the valley of the blood sucking demons.
It was there that I CAREFULLY unplugged the pump and stuck the multi-meter probes into what might be a high voltage socket as I knelt in wet jungle growth on damp ground in the now falling rain as a mosquito the size of Babe the Blue Ox stuck its hairy pipe into my ear. I was a little distracted to say the least, but not so much that I couldn't read the meter which said we had juice.
OK, we have power. The pump is plugged in, but not pumping. Pump is toast, ran my reasoning as I beat a hasty retreat from the swarming hoards of flying vermin. Now what? As I pondered this last part, I was just walking into the garage where scores of neighbors and friends asked what I had found out and could they help. And then when I explained the problem they all offered the services of the person standing next to them, apparently finding the honor of being lowered headfirst into a large tank full of sewage too great a one for them personally to take on.
It was time to call in the pros. And after approximately and hour of small conversations about why was I carrying a multi-meter and what were those large welts around my face, I eventually found myself in the relative quiet of my downstairs office, glancing frequently at the carpet to see if it were changing to a darker shade, and searching the internet for the phone number of my prevous savior - Tom of Tom's Sewage Service.
A quick dial hailed a human on the other end of the line who listened as I explained the problem. "Sounds like your pump is pooped," he exclaimed upon hearing my story. "I have a full load at the moment, but if you can hang on for about forty minutes, I'll dump my load and come down and pump you out. We can't get to the pump itself until early next week. That's a deal I said as I hung up and went in search of another beer.
I found the object of my desire after the now familiar routine of making forward progress at somewhat slower pace than your average glacier. And just as I got the cap off, a bobbing face caught my attention over by the garage door. There was the international distress signal used in the waving of arms and beckoning of hands. What now I asked.
"We're out of toilet paper," she hissed. I immediatly thought that perhaps I could use this as a delaying maneuver, an attempt at impeding the ever present flow of fluid falling into my quickly filling tanks, but then I abandoned such thoughts and went for my secret stash of TP, dispensing a few rolls in a begrudging fashion.
At some point later, we were greeted by the sound of a throaty diesel engine and the hum of many large tires. Yea, the honey wagon had arrived.
This event sent a jolt of energy through the crowd and we all rushed out to witness the ensuing spectacle. Several shots were taken of assorted revelers posed before this megalith of a vehicle. Somewhere about this time, the last beer was snagged out of the icy slush in the tub and the crowd immediately started to thin.
The hardcore supporters of the Queen stayed of for some time, but for the bulk of the guests, the honey wagon crowned a day of superb food and entertainment, and they decided to go out on top.
As for me, I thought it went well, despite the surprises. The Queen was happy. The food was good. My "el diablo" batch of pulled pork was the first thing to go. The libations lasted long enough, but not too long and the remainder of the evening slowly wound down. Now we will spend the next couple of days slowly returning our house to a house instead of a shrine while we go over to other people's houses and see what they have for entertainment.