I'm back. I've just been busy with work stuff. Yes, I realize I'm behind on reading people's blogs. I'm working on it. But in order to do so, I have to skim and lurk a lot because it's faster. Trust me, I'm out there.
Um...highlights. First off, I took no pictures. Please don't shoot me. As you will soon realize, there isn't much to see. Other than the pond behind the house, it's pretty boring. Peaceful and rural, but boring.
I had tried to warn K about The Czarina, her parties and staying at her house. It would be more work than play. And K would know no one other than me. I tried to tell her it wouldn't be much fun, but she still said she wanted to go. I was grateful for the company, so I didn't dissuade her as much as I probably should have. So we packed up, grabbed Sammy and picked up the 20 lbs. of BBQ, as requested by Czarina.
Since I had to pick up RP from Charleston before heading to Czarina's, four hours were added to my trip. So what was normally a 6 hour trip became a 10 hour trip. Not fun. But not terrible. For the first time, I had company with me in the car. It made it much more bearable. I had people to talk to and people to hand me stuff, which was nice.
Sammy slept and farted during the entire car ride.
We get to Czarina's, where she and my little sister, Smurf, greet us. We unpacked and were all sitting and relaxing in the living room. Czarina was telling us about my brother's dog, who peed on the rug a couple of weeks previously. She was still pretty pissed off about it. Right as she is telling us about this, Sammy proceeds to walk up to the chair I'm sitting in and lift his leg. He peed on her chair. Oops.
Aside from this bad first impression, she eventually grew to like Sammy.
I had forgotten that Czarina is a major cheapskate when it comes to air conditioning. The thermostat was set at 76 or higher, so I basically sweated like a buffalo the entire time. I think I took 7 cold showers in three days. Luckily, this didn't seem to bother anyone but me.
We were all pretty exhausted from driving all day, so we didn't do much the first night. The Czarina was in a pretty bad mood, due to the pre-party planning stress. K said she felt very intimidated, which was understandable. Czarina was at her frostiest. I told K she would calm down when her best friend arrived. (RP's mom is her best friend.)
The next day, I gave K a grand tour of my hometown (pop. 17,000). The main retail outlet in my hometown is a huge furniture warehouse. There are also a couple of cutesy preppy clothing stores-- not really our style. We did some window shopping, but since neither one of us has the space or money for major furniture purchases or a love affair with Izod, we were pretty much bored after an hour. We were hot, so we decided to hit DQ. We ordered two medium sized milkshakes, which surprisingly cost us almost $8! After getting over our sticker shock, we went to Wally World. Czarina needed some party supplies. Then we went home. Later on, RP's mom arrived, so Czarina's mood improved greatly.
K and I took Smurf to go see Click that night. It was ok. Not Adam Sandler's best. The morality issue was really beaten like a dead horse. But it does beg the question: What would you pause, FF, rewind, skip or stop in your life? Hmmm...food for thought.
The next morning was spent helping Czarina clean and get ready for the party. Not fun, but necessary. I tried to warn K that we would probably be doing some cleaning on this trip, but she said that was fine. I also tried to warn her that this was not going to be a fun family get-together kind of party. 99% of the guests were going to be more interested in discussing politics than pop culture. Again, K said this would be ok. (Czarina and I don't think she had much fun. We are both harboring guilt trips about it.)
The rest of the P family arrived, along with my brothers, Fat Dog and Fungus. Fat Dog brought his dog, Newton. He and Sammy were instant best friends and proceeded to take turns humping each other for the next 13 hours straight. This was very entertaining for all of us. They also explored the woods together, gathering ticks and chasing critters. If it weren't for Sammy's squeaky toy, he probably would have run away! I had a hard time finding him a couple of times during the weekend. But he had a good time.
People started arriving around 2pm. All in all, about 55 of my parents' closest friends came. Notice I said parents' friends. As the oldest kid there, I knew or at least remembered most of them, but even I struggled with some names and faces. And they all wanted to ask me about politics, law or my dad's career. I don't know much about any of these topics, but I do know enough to get by. Kinda. So I faked my way through every conversation. This is very stressful, because I'm sure they were all thinking, "His own daughter doesn't know about that?" I felt like a fraud.
If it wasn't the third degree about politics, then it was the old men who would corner me, talking about really really boring stuff. I would get stuck listening to them bitch about politics or academia for 45 minutes before I could mumble an excuse and make my escape.
For the first time in my life, I prayed that someone would ask me why I was still single.
Wasn't this supposed to be a party? Can't they all just get drunk and leave me alone? Isn't there someone here who just wants to talk about college football or Hogan Knows Best?
At one point, about two hours into these intellectual conversations, my brain started to hurt. So I escaped and went downstairs where K, my siblings and RP's siblings were. It didn't seem fair--I had to play co-hostess, and they were down in the basement, having fun. They had beers and cigarettes, they were playing pool and laughing. There was no conversation about anything requiring a PhD. But unfortunately, I was the oldest "kid", and somehow, age 27 left me straddling the "kiddie" room and the adult cocktail party going on upstairs. I felt I had a duty, but longed to have some fun.
"I swear, if I have to have one more boring conversation or answer another question about Dad's books, I'm going to scream," I said as I grabbed GP's cigarette and took two long drags. (GP is RP's sister.) They laughed. I told them they didn't know what I was going through up there. Then I went back up. At the very least, by being upstairs I could make sure we would be eating on time--I was starved!
Finally, at 6:30 we ate. BBQ, baked beans, coleslaw, potato chips and iced tea. And cake for dessert. Yum! (Except for the coleslaw and tea, that is.) Sammy was apparently fed lots of BBQ at some point during the evening. Don't ask how I know this. After dinner, most of the guests left. It was mostly just the P family and a couple of old family friends who hung around, drinking and lighting fireworks.
By 9pm, K and I were bushed. Plus, we knew we would be driving back the next morning. So we went to bed early, much to the dismay of the other "kids". After trying to sleep through the fireworks show, we were awakened by Fungus. 5 times. He kept opening up the door to our room and turning on the light and saying, "Y'all don't want to hang out?" We would have gotten up to strangle him if we had had any energy. We settled for locking the door.
In the morning, I went downstairs for my morning cup of coffee. One of my favorite things about my mom is that she understands the importance of having lots of coffee, ready to drink, every morning without fail. She didn't let me down. As I was sipping and studying the disaster zone that was formerly the kitchen, I realized something gritty was under my feet. And all over the countertop. And all in the sink. It was pretty much everywhere. Using some rudimentary investigative skills, I determined that some drunk person had tried to open a bottle of pepper blend and had somehow managed to sprinkle its entire contents everywhere. It was like a pepper parade had been thrown. I chuckled to myself as I figured it looked like a Fungus job.
Czarina knew I had to hit the road. She packed up the leftover BBQ and cake for us (YESSS!) as she explained that there would have been more leftovers if my drunken brothers hadn't had a late night feast. "That's ok," I replied. "They have to clean up all this mess!"
K and I showered and packed. I took Sammy out to potty before we got in the car. He went straight for the pile of vomit in the yard and began to try and lick it. Great. Another Fungus job, I am sure. After stopping Sammy, we grabbed RP and hit the road. It was another 10 hour trip, complete with diet coke and Combos. Only this time, it was raining, so we had no relief from Sammy's farts.