Family Moments

Published on July 8th, 2015 | by Richard Black


Fourth of July 2015 Recap: An Intovert’s (and all Around Crabby Old Man’s) Perspective on Hosting Events


Baby steps man. Baby Steps.

Remember the movie What About Bob? Remember the scene where Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfus) meets Bob (Bill Murray) for the first time in Leo’s office?

Dr. Leo Marvin: Are you married?

Bob Wiley: I’m divorced.

Dr. Leo Marvin: Would you like to talk about that?

Bob Wiley: There are two types of people in this world: Those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don’t. My ex-wife loves him.

Dr. Leo Marvin: [pause] I see. So, what you’re saying is that even though you are an almost-paralyzed, multiphobic personality who is in a constant state of panic, your wife did not leave you, you left her because she… liked Neil Diamond?

Laura and I have the same sort of problem. Not that we’ve ever talked about it in therapy or that either one of us has ever considered divorce. Our marriage is an “out feet first operation” and we’ve made an agreement. I will let her entertain and she will not leave me no matter how much I bitch about hosting an event that involves having people in my home.

Don’t get me wrong I love hosting a party that involves everyone I’ve ever met and cared to keep in contact with but only because that’s five or six people. Now as we’ve aged many of them have children and while I’d love to get to know their kids, I’m cautious about letting new people into my life. Quite frankly I’d like to wean the wean the number of people I truly care about to a more manageable number and that includes my friends’ children. They might end up to be great people but right now most of them are just self entitled little shits (a.k.a. children). Most show promise but I’m still hesitant to make a long term emotional commitment until I known them a bit better.

Unfortunately that involves spending time with them and that, my friends, is the crux of my problem. I love the idea of people but I really don’t enjoy being with a lot of them in one place, kids included. I used to back when I was in my teens and early twenties and the prospect of free booze and a piece of tail were enough to get me to drive across eighteen states.

Now anything that involves the phrase “get-together” or the even more dreaded word “party” strikes an icy bolt of fear in my heart. Birthday party, Key Party, Tea Party I don’t care in what context the word is used. Anything that begins with the word “party” ends in a bad time for yours truly and I’d rather shave my mother’s legs than host an event.

I feel compelled to note that it’s not the work that needs to take place that bother’s me. The endless vacuuming and dusting and organization of my daughter’s little tiny toys into various boxes are projects I perform pretty much every day as a stay at home dad.What kills me are the expectations. Laura, my wife, is really Clark Griswold incarnate. And I? I am her enabler.

Every “event” needs to be perfect, and for those of you who are new here, I am far from perfect. I try but at the end of the day or the beginning of a get-together with a group of friends I either inevitably fall short or end up gibbering in the corner and obsessing over my wife’s obsession with the whereabouts of the cocktail napkins she bought seven years ago for PRECISELY THIS EVENT.

And this is how, two hours into the Fourth of July extravaganza at our home, I found myself sucking down beers behind a locked door in our bathroom. Six kids were tear-assing around our home with water pistols and playing with every toy they could get their hands on for eight seconds before tossing it aside and plowing through the rest of them like a coke fiend looking for a fix and rendering the bulk of my home a minefield to anyone in bare feet and who wasn’t a mountain goat.

UF_JekyllandHyde_070815Laura was just coming off of the “Oh my God we are never going to get this house ready by the time everyone comes over” freak out that occurs whenever we host company to the “Don’t mind that corpse by the closet we were just trying create a little ambiance would you like a drink?” Jekyll and Hyde change in her personality that occurs when people began to arrive and I?

…I was taking some time to myself to acclimate to the chaos with a six pack of beer.

In the bathroom.

By myself.

Half an hour later I emerged fully lubricated and ready to engage the public.

The “party” (shudder) was in full swing and I feel compelled to mention that I really do like all of the people who were over this past Saturday and not just because they read this blog. I really like them and I even like most of their kids. I just hate hosting events. Managing multiple conversations is a lot of work, at least for me. Add four hours of finding lost sippy cups, escorting toddlers and inebriated guests to a bathroom, finding the “right” kind of macaroni and cheese to make for six children and I’m ragged. After eating and drinking for five hours most of our guests were as well but I’ll get to that later.

Or perhaps right now. Parties have their own inertia. They follow the same Laws of Motion just like everything else and this one involved a bunch of middle aged men and women who’d just eaten two dozen pounds of smoked pork, ripped through a few cases of beer and demolished four pounds of guacamole to name just a few of our excesses. Under any other circumstance we weren’t going anywhere and would prefer to pass out at 8:00 in the evening on the front porch in a bunch of plastic Adirondack chairs. We’re old. We look forward to a weekend where we can just be lazy bastards and, at best, eat a few pounds of red meat, drink a respectably irresponsible amount and go home at a decent hour. And this is where the evening would have ended.

Enter Laura, my aforementioned wife, the unstoppable force that met the immovable object known as the lazy and aforementioned bastards.

“All right let’s go,” she announced, “It’s time to go see the fireworks!!!” and every fucking kid within earshot lost their shit. Laura knew her audience she knew that I’d rather sit down on my balls a few dozen times than leave my house. She also knew that the word “fireworks” when mentioned in the presence of small children has a similar effect that “free heroin” has upon a bunch of junkies two days out from their last fix.

Fireworks? Fireworks?! FIREWORKS! FIREWORKS! FIREWORKS!!!!!?????!!!!

Have you ever tried to wrangle six kids who’ve been running around a yard like addled crack whores for the past few hours and given nothing but soda, freezy pops and ice cream since breakfast? It’s like trying to strap a bunch of cats into a car seat. Suffice it to say getting a group of 40 year old somethings and their sugared up kids into two cars was a project of Herculean proportions and only one my wife could be up for.

And so we moved.

Now I live about four blocks from a good spot to see the fireworks my city shoots off every year. It’s one of the reasons my wife and I decided to buy our home. Instead of hiking four blocks we ended up cramming the aforementioned crack kids into two cars and driving two miles out of the way to search for a parking spot another mile out of the way. Upon removing six tired and screaming kids from the cars we then walked three miles back to within a few hundred yards of where we would have been if we, and I can’t stress this enough, would have walked to my house to begin with.

UF_Viewof Fireworks_070815

I’m not kidding this was the view we had. Isn’t that SOMETHING!!!

Here’s the view we ended up with off to the left. Isn’t it great? About two miles into the Bataan death march that was the 2015 Fourth of July all of the children began to scream and howl when the fireworks began to go off and we weren’t in the perfect place. I made a command decision and, rather than walking five hundred yards down a set of train tracks (and forgive me again) TO THE PLACE WE COULD HAVE WALKED TO BEFORE, I hunkered down and made the best of a shitty situation.

I spent the bulk of the show playing musical chairs with my daughter and her friends attempting to pair the kid who wasn’t crying with the other kids who were crying but didn’t want to sit next to a child who wasn’t crying. I’m not up on the classics but I’m pretty sure Dante wrote about a level of hell that involves watching a fireworks show behind a stand of trees and a giant power pylon with six screaming kids who really don’t like loud noises and haven’t had any sleep for 18 hours.

In the midst of it all, once the kids were finally settled and I bummed a smoke and grabbed a beer from the cooler I’d humped over my little section of suburbia for the past 18 miles I found my center.The kids were all within eyesight, I hefted my can to a cop by the side of the road in salute and drank deep to another craptacular fourth of July as I watched the last few purple, pink and white bursts explode in the sky.

“Next time we’ll do better,” Laura said and I agreed. Her eternal optimism always sucks me in and it really is optimism. By my best guess out of the past ten years we’ve had approximately one successful Fourth of July where we had a good view of the fireworks and no one cried or lost a finger. That’s a success rate of ten percent for those of you who aren’t mathematically inclined and not a figure the engenders a lot of hope that I’ll make it through the next ten years with some semblance of emotional stability.

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