Any minute now Laurie, with the help of Hazel, will throw her big yearly solstice party. Wine will flow like, er, wine and anybody who shows up full of somebody else’s food has only himself to blame.
Though I am officially a cohost, my part in these shenanigans is minor. On the afternoon of the party I will be sent to the local market for last-minute ingredients and bags of ice. After that, I will have long heartfelt discussions with Hazel’s sweetie, Mark, and generally try to stay out of the way. Later, as my regular dinner time approaches and then passes, I will certainly sample the appetizers. Sevenish, guests will start to arrive. While Laurie and Hazel run around like crazy people making last-minute preparations, I will let the guests in.
I know most of the people Laurie invites, and in fact I invite some people myself. I am delighted to see them individually or in small groups, but I am really not much of a party person. I am not good at keeping a conversation in the air with small talk.
And I worry about things — mostly the cats. People who know me well, or even moderately well, know about my constant cry of “don’t let the cats out!” Letting the cats out is of particular concern when I’m dealing with guests who don’t have pets of their own and don’t think about such things. They are in no hurry to shut our door because they are never in a hurry to shut their door at home.
And so I generally hang out at the end of our entryway where there is a narrow shelf upon which I can rest a glass of seltzer and a plate of food. Special friends will sometimes join me there and understand if I run off to shut a door behind guests who are a little slow.
Eventually we will have more departing guests than arriving guests. The process of letting them out is similar to that of letting them in but can be even more maddening to those of us with a psychotic concern for the cats. Because people tend to stand at the door and continue conversations, or start new conversations, or wish people well in the new year. Whatever. As politely as I am able, I suggest they either stay in or go out but in any case quit standing with the half open door as an attraction to our escape artist cats.
These parties are always a big success. There is nothing like good food, drink, and conversation to make a party go, and there is always plenty of those things. And the truth is, we haven’t yet lost a cat. I suppose there is always next year.
Mel’s essay about how he came to write a semi-sequel to Surfing Samauri Robots has been posted at Omni Mystery News. This is a great website full of useful, interesting, and timely info about the current mystery scene. You can see the essay here.