- 21 sep
I'm convinced that September rivals the year-end holiday season in its social engagements, worries, and institutional hurdles. Most of the overall fretting is associated with formal education, i.e., did we get a good teacher? How long will it take for us to re-invent the special ed wheel this year? What new motto will the school district sing out to make jumping through a loophole sound like they're bending over backwards?
September is also when the fruits of yuletide friskiness have ripened, bringing a glut of birthday parties. Minivans and SUV's are packed to the headliners with kids, gifts, balloons, bathing suits, and towels that have been fossilizing next to the spare tire since that first summer trip to the beach back in June. Of '01.
One of the stops for the van parade is, of course, my house, as Viv and I were not immune to the concupiscent pull of a yuletide twelve years ago. Nature took its course through our loins and into our hearts and eventually into a local elementary school where Amy has made friends, many of whom came over last night for a nocturnal birthday dance party, girls only please.
The theme was basketball, the music was loud, the giggling was overwhelming, and though we had nearly fifty guests, we'd still bought too much food. This is all good. Amy loves basketball. Sleepy suburban neighborhoods need loud music to break the monotony of hissing lawns, giggling is contagious and, if allowed to spread unchecked, soon breaks out in adults, and with this much leftover food I don't have to plan dinners until just before Thanksgiving.
Amy was the recipient of many wonderful gifts from many wonderful people. The backyard had two firepits ablazin', a basketball court set up, a couple of tree forts, swings, the pool, and a covered dance floor ringed with hay bales. Four of the neighborhood teenage girls served as dj's and spent the evening spinning tunes, controlling the rotating disco light ball, the fog machine, the karaoke machine, the bubble machine, and being generally idolized by the 10-12 set. I'm really pleased and grateful to everyone involved. Cooperative teenage girls totally rock. And I mean that in the kindest and most wholesome way, Your Honor.
I'd spent the last several days preparing for this shindig -- heavy lifting, cleaning, trimming, hauling -- and so by the time I sat down at the party to have actual conversations with grownups I was so tired that my ability to converse was limited to pointing and nodding, some grunts, and the occasional adjective thrown in for flair.
After everyone had gone home to go to sleep and dream of Bobby Sherman or whomever it is that tweaks the pubescent scrunchie these days, Viv and I rendezvoused out by the firepits. I threw on a couple of massive long-burning logs. And I mean that in the kindest most wholesome way, Your Honor. The two of us out there, under the stars and the dim colored lights, enjoyed that deeply satisfying post-party denouement, the exhausted happy time when you know from the uncouched comments of the kids and the kind good words of the adults that a swell night was had by all.
If you had asked me a couple of days ago what my plans were for Saturday I would've told you I'd be attending an art crawl of several photography galleries in the Echo Park and Silverlake districts of Los Angeles. After the energy expended before and during the party, however, the plans became amended slightly. After a breakfast of leftover birthday cake (chocolate mousse filling, white icing), I retired to my bed and remained horizontal and in various stages of consciousness until the onset of sunset, whereupon I rose for a sandwich, potato salad, and a Coke. Feeling artful, I crawled into my office, thought about the Great American Novel, and then wrote this instead.
"Night and Day" -- Art Tatum -- THE BEST OF ART TATUM
- Richard Penniman