We woke up at 11:00 and had a leisurely breakfast on the deck. Larry made use of the few things left in the fridge and made French toast. Leftover Italian bread from a pasta dinner, two eggs, and about 3 teaspoons of maple syrup that we fought over like starving orphans.
"Larry," I said when he finished, "don't forget to lick your plate. There's still some syrup left."
It was such a gorgeous sunny Saturday morning. All was quiet. So quiet that I would occasionally close my eyes and pretend to be on the beach in Mexico, only to be brought back to New York City by the occasional fire truck screaming down ninth avenue.
Neither of us had a watch on, but we knew we had plenty of time to get ready to leave at 2:00 for the barbecue in Island Park.
After loading the dishwasher, we headed back upstairs, with Larry walking ahead of me.
"Oh shit!" exclaimed Larry, stopping in his tracks.
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He stared at the clock in disbelief.
"1:50?" said Larry. "How did that happen?"
Time flies when you're having fun (and not wearing a watch).
What started out as a relaxing morning, became a frantic rush to get out of the apartment. Drawers opened and slammed shut, clothes flew mid-air, showers turned on, and electric razors buzzed into action. Larry's recommendation that we should "arrive early to leave early" flew right out the window and splattered on the deck.
We got in the sweltering car and closed the doors. Even though the engine was still off, I pressed the "down" button on my window switch in preparation. There had to be no delay.
"Can you get us there in ten minutes?" I joked. This was feasible, in my opinion. Larry has a bit of a lead foot, able to shave a 3 hour trip down to 2 and a half hours, depending on traffic and the urgency to escape from New York.
At 2:15, Larry remembered that the party wasn't starting until 2:30, which would lessen our embarrassment at being late.
After battling midtown traffic, then driving over the 59th street bridge into Queens, we hit a snarling mess of traffic - on every single highway.
We each did impressions of the people we expected to see there. I was surprised at how good I was, since I'm usually pretty bad at them.
We walked into the liquor store to pick up some vodka. As Larry pulled bottles from the shelf, a skinny hipster blow-hard turned the corner with his girlfriend.
"Classico, my favorite!" he said with smug self-satisfaction, loud enough so that others may hear, and maybe be impressed somehow. He turned to his girlfriend, pulling a bottle of Jose Cuervo Classico off the shelf.
I wondered how I could throw a bottle of vodka at his head and make it look like an accident.
I didn't think Larry heard the hipster poseur until we left the aisle.
"It's sad when your favorite drink is garbage," he said.
For some reason, the cashiers at this particular liquor store have an attitude problem, so I braced for some tension when one of them yelled, "Next!"
"Is that all?" asked the bleach blonde trailer trash cashier as she looked at our six bottles on the counter.
"Yes," said Larry.
Trailer trash cashier scanned the bottles, and then began to put them in a box. Larry sets aside two bottles of vodka before she could add them.
"Can you put these two in..." he started, struggling to think of the word.
Now, here is where I might interject with, "Gift bags?" but instead, I just decided to not interrupt him and observe.
"...plastic bags?" he finally said.
Trailer trash cashier looked at him for a beat and then said, condescendingly, "You mean gift bags? Because these are plastic bags." And she turned around to a pile of shopping bags and fingered them. It was as if we were both French tourists who spoke very little English. Or babies. She was that condescending.
Maybe it's my 12 years of retail showing off, but a non-brain-damaged cashier would know to ask, "Oh, you'd like those gift wrapped?" at seeing Larry set them aside. They must get a lot of drunks who like their vodka in flimsy plastic shopping bags.
I looked away because I didn't want to the cashier to see me biting my lip to keep from laughing.
"Plastic...gift bags," Larry says. Translation: Why don't you turn off the condescending bullshit and wrap the vodka, okay bitch?
TTC digs under the counter for a silver mylar bag. "They're not really plastic. They're mylar," she corrects.
Translation: I have a false sense of superiority because, when I go home, my white trash husband is going to beat me with a broom in front of the kids. This is all I have, so let me enjoy it.
I noticed that the hipster blow-hard was also leaving, but not without letting the WHOLE STORE know that he needed someone to bring two bags of ice to his car by way of yelling. In looking at he and his ugly girlfriend, I noticed two few things: A) they were hung over, B) they're future alcoholics.
Mylar bags in hand, we arrived at the house.
I left my glasses on as we made our way through their house and out onto the back deck, where Larry was greeted with a chorus of "Laaaaarrrrry!!!" which ended with an awkward, slightly disappointed, "...and Chris too," as though they were hoping I'd might not make it.
The parties that this couple throws have become almost routine - especially the guest list.
I immediately noticed Katrina, who has become a cartoon character at this point. She always finds a way to sit her 350 lb ass at the main table, close to the BBQ, where she will graze on chips and dip until the food is served. She must be first on line every single time, for she can not be left to starve. God forbid.
Katrina's lovely personable daughter was also there. The first thing you notice about her is how fat she is, at such a young age. And then you notice her long, oily, curly hair. I'd imagine most of her shirts have permanent grease stains on the upper half.
If you can stand looking at her long enough, you will notice that she never smiles or talks, and will sit there the entire time with a grimace on her face. I guess I'd grimace too if I was so fat that I had to wear plastic slippers instead of shoes.
I did not greet her directly, instead, following Larry and greeting only those people. It was only when we rounded the table that I made eye contact (by accident) with Katrina and was forced to give her an air kiss, telling her, "It's good to see you." I felt bad that I lied like that.
A Boeing 767 roared overhead, on its way to JFK. If anything, I could watch the planes land today, I thought.
At least two people told me they were sick after I greeted them. Oh, yes, something is going around - STUPIDITY.
We opened the cooler and found bottles of Corona, but drank it anyway. If I've learned anything, you ask what your host has and say, "I'll have that," rather than make a specific request. And if you don't like what is being served, just shut up and drink it, or go home.
"Why don't you have some quiche?" asked Larry out of the corner of his mouth. "Katrina made it with her feet."
I stood by the table and watched people dig into what looked like pie. Dessert, so early?
It turned out to be some crazy Frankensteined hummus dish, with cream cheese and green peppers on it. Thought it would probably cure a hangover in five minutes, I did not want to try this.
Actually, I did, but I was put off by the large ladies protecting it.
"Chris, try some," said the woman who brought it.
"No, it's okay," I said. I looked again at the two women sitting at the corner of the table. Their big, doughy upper arms formed a blockade that said, This dip belongs to us. If you come too close, we'll eat you too.
Larry looked at me. "Go, try some." He thought I was just being shy. He should know me by now. Or maybe he knew what I was thinking and this was some kind of punishment.
I approached, since the
"And...disaster," I said, pulling out what was left of the chip. The people at the table laughed, and I couldn't help but watch enviously as they deftly scooped and ate, scooped and ate. It was like they were using chopsticks and I couldn't. Should I just go at it with a spoon?
I noticed that, for a gay couple's party, there sure were a lot of boring, older straight people this year and no eye candy, despite the fact that a supposedly hot professional arm wrestler had just moved in across the street.
We were outnumbered, which meant boring, generic conversation about real estate and weather, rather than juicy gossip, double entendres and flirting.
Surprisingly, Vinny was there. You remember Vinny. I can't stand him.
As much as I was trying to avoid him, I gave in and greeted him. There was no escape since he was standing right in front of me.
Vinny confessed that he's still out of work, and, while I laughed on the inside, I had to break the awkward silence.
"Oh, you should go temping! Look up a temp agency. I landed a great job through a temp agency."
"I couldn't find any in the city," he told me. "Nothing in Manhattan."
This tells me two things: 1) he's a liar and 2) he doesn't know how to use the Internet.
"What's the name of your temp agency?" he asked.
"You know...it was a few years ago. I honestly don't remember," I lied. Not only do I have the name and address memorized, but a contact email as well. He'll never know this.
Becky made the fatal mistake of talking to him, which was his cue to hit her up for help getting a job.
I noticed that Larry had joined Linda over in the little yard next to the house for a cigarette, so I decided to join them. I had the feeling that I'd interrupted their conversation, but the awkward silence was still better than watching Becky squirm out of being asked to find Vinny a job.
Every year it seems that someone makes something with an unexpectedly disgusting ingredient. One year it was a lame, tasteless diet-version of key lime pie. (Why bother?) Last year's pasta salad had peanut butter in it, yet had the texture and appearance of tuna fish. The girl who brought that was a no-show this year, so whoever made the baked beans probably got the recipe from her.
We fought the fatties to get a hot dog and some baked beans, which included chunks of what I (and everyone else) assumed where potato.
It was not potato. It was pineapple. If that sounds good to you, here is a recipe.
You know what's really awkward? When you go up to get a second hot dog, and there's one left. And the host takes it. And you're standing there with your empty plate and there's no other option, like say, a burger, so that you can fake it and pretend you came up for a burger. And the traffic flow is such that there's no quick escape.
I returned to the table with some soggy coleslaw and gave the news to Larry.
"The fatties beat us to it. No doubt they had three hot dogs each."
I overheard that the stray cat that has been living in this yard for seven years just bit Vinny. So I told Larry.
"Good kitty, good kitty."
As I was on the deck, I heard the ruckus of new guests arriving. The person walked towards me and, because he had his sunglasses on, was unrecognizable to me. So, I stuck my hand out and introduced myself.
"Hi, I'm Chris," I said.
He said nothing, but just sort of smirked, like he was some kind of Hollywood star and I was his hairdresser for the day. I wish I could have hit rewind and then spit on his ugly, black open-toed mules.
His boyfriend was right behind him - a dried-out California boy with stringy, feminine hair and a black tank top.
Where the hell is Larry, I thought. I saw that he was down in the yard sitting with some people, so I made a break for it.
The two of them came down to our table, asking if there were any seats.
Two people immediately got up, claiming that they were leaving anyway. When the mystery guest took his sunglasses off, I saw that it was Dave.
I had to keep from laughing because he's obviously having some sort of mid-life crisis, between the waxed eyebrows, new, brushed-back hair and sleeveless shirt.
Dave's a smug bastard who picks and chooses when he wants to talk to certain people. Larry
Before you can say "contagious STD," the rest of the people at the table had left. Coincidence? I think not.
Later, Vinny told us about a job he had at a Turkish company. He claimed that they let him go after two weeks because "it didn't work out" and that they "had discovered that they were paying him too much."
Translation: Your drug test came back positive.
We were delighted to see that the dilapidated crack-house next door was not only in foreclosure, but that there was a very interested couple checking out the grounds.
"He's gonna make an offer," Larry said. "I'm sure of it." I wanted to climb over the low fence and peek in the windows to see what a dilapidated crack-house looks like.
"That would be an excellent set for a movie about a pair of traveling crack-heads," I said. "They wouldn't have to change a thing."
Maybe it's just my mannners, but I found it strange when I commented on the cherry tomatoes growing on the side of the house, only to watch Linda pick one off and eat it, right there, as though she were sampling at the supermarket. "Mmmm, like candy!" she said, smiling at the sky.
"I don't know how they do this," I said to Larry. "I would never have the patience to put together a party like this."
It's true. I can barely clean up after myself. I could just imagine how many hours it would take to collect the trash, put everything away, and collapse the tent.
We saw that it was getting late, and it had been a while since the food stopped coming, so we decided to leave.
The goodbyes were quick and sudden, like sniper-fire.
"You're leaving? Already? But there's gonna be burgers," they said.
Are you kidding? Burgers, five hours later? At this rate, dessert will be tomorrow morning, I thought.
Alright, maybe not morning. Maybe 10:00.
We left, knowing that Katrina and her fat family would hold out until the bitter end, staying for dessert, then taking piles of leftovers home - and eating them in the car.
And to think I didn't want to go, I thought, as we pulled onto the parkway.
I can't wait until their Christmas party. If I'm not blacklisted.