“Geez!! Good to see you!!” (again)

I’ve never been really big on parties, myself.  Don’t like ém, actually.  I think they are boring.  Chit chat, banter, short conversations with people who talk about their appliances, the price of real estate. Or worse, the weather.

Mind you, those are urban party topics.  Out here it is definitely the weather, motors and gardens.  And I have some interest in those but still, they are dealt with superficially at parties and I need real answers on those topics!

I don’t like encountering those with short attention spans either, the eyes of the person with whom you are speaking constantly searching for better company.  I don’t blame them, of course.  How can I?  My eyes are bobbing around, too.  I just don’t like it.

Seeing people you know but can’t remember their name?  Food like ‘nuts and bolts’, chili dogs and macaroni salad?  On ultra-thin paper quick-fold plates?  Pastic wine glasses?  Home made wine?  Huge trays of unidentifiable mush passing for a potluck contribution?  Am I missing something? 

How did this sort of thing become popular?  Well, I think I know……..it’s the gene pooling effect, isn’t it?  We needed excuses to get together to find willing mates.  Ergo: the par-tay!  But, sadly in some ways, and with relief in others, that topic is now ‘old’ isn’t it?  ‘Cause we’re old.  We’re long done searching the pool for attractive genes and chromosomes and the life guard is now ordering us from the pool.  “Get out!  Seniors swim is over!”

The exception to that observation on short-attention span people, of course, is the guy more boring than Cliff Claven who desperately needs some attention and with whom I am trapped in the corner.  God help us both!  “Have I told you that I got a grant to hold nature-walk courses?  Yea, the local museum and the local library are gonna arrange groups to walk through the forest and I will be the leader explaining different flora and fauna.  Why, did you know we have two hundred and thirty species of mushroom on this island alone?”

Life goes into painful slo-mo in such situations.  My joints ache.  My bad knee becomes crippling.  Both my mind and my body want out and my body is doing something about it!  In effect it is saying, ‘If our only way out is to call an ambulance, let’s do it!’

“Can you hold that thought?  I seem to recall seeing some of those mushrooms in the kitchen being stuffed with mayonnaise or something.  Want me to get you one?”  And I try to leave.  But I’d have to bowl him over.  He is standing firm……..

“They are called Boletus, actually, or more commonly, fungi…………blah, blah, blah………”

Parties with more than four others just ain’t my thing.  Six on holidays.  I like short, small dinner parties with real conversation and real food.  And scotch.  Call me crazy!

My friend, J, feels the same way.  He has the added disadvantage of not being able to hear and so much of the party conversation is lost on him anyway.  Worse, he is one of those with a short attention span.  Combine all that with a personal abhorrence of alcohol and his party time is double hell.  He figures three hours is all he can take and after two he is counting the minutes.  He doesn’t have to – I have a watch and the alarm is set for three hours.  We usually come and go from parties in the same boat.

But we are equally curmdgeonly on the matter.  The three hour rule is applied if he is visiting me.  And it is equally enforced if I am visiting him.  We are both more relaxed knowing when it will end and we are both grateful for the time limit agreement.  “Right!  Been great!  Nice catching up.  Thanks for the pretzel-things.  Time to go!”

We are blessed with another neighbour just a mile away who feels the same and is equally as hard of hearing.  The three of us get along famously by not seeing each other and, when we do, by not listening.  That keeps it short.

The women in our lives?  Not so much.  They can linger at the door, one fully clad for the winter weather, the other shivering while the rain hits her, talking about the seeds they are going to plant next year or the best source of lemon grass in the area.  The guys head to the boat, fire up the engine, untie the lines and hold onto the dock with one hand.  There is the unacknowledged contest of wills hanging in the air………..will he leave or will he wait…………?  Can she start a conversation about painting the bathroom or is that pushing her luck?

The unspoken rule is that the reluctant partner can drag her feet for about ten minutes.  Then the boat leaves.  It’s harsh out here.  The air is electric with tension at the nine-minute mark but so far no one has been left standing at the beach.

Anyway, the women are united on this issue.  They always are.  And, of course, they win in the end.  They simply schedule another get-together sooner rather than later.  The men?  We simply don’t know what to do.  So we go, champ at the bit for three hours and then start the engine.  What a ritual, eh?

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