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Friday, December 16, 2016

It Was An "I Want Yule" Party

On Saturday afternoon, Joe's band opened for the Weisstronauts' annual holiday bash, and we hosted a lovely after party. It was an idea sparked by bandmate Jonathan at the last I Want You show at Charlie's, and at that point Joey and I hadn't yet picked a date for our annual holiday gathering. Perfect!


e-vite by Edward Gorey & Michelle DiPoala
An "after party" that starts around dinnertime is about my speed. That's not an "aging scenester" thing. Even when I was the right age to head out to someone's basement at 3am after band load-out, I didn't. I pretty much always wanted to go home and jettison my bra and let the silence supercede the deafening ring of rock and banter. I loved going out to rock shows, but my love affair with "silence" quietly burns eternal.

I love every aspect of throwing a party. I love the menu planning, creating the invite, the shopping, the decorating if it's a seasonal or themed thing, and I love having everyone come over. I would do it every week if I could.

But this party, I procrastinated like a champ. I should have started the whole "cleaning" project weeks in advance.  Oh sure, I put up our little tree, strung 200 feet of lights, and I even made a wreath that incorporated two feather boas, some hair accessories and my Jack and Sally dolls. Because that was a good use of my time.

With all the light-stringing and wreath-making, I didn't do the usual party-prep deep-clean. So that's what I was frantically doing all day Friday and all day Saturday right up to the moment the Uber app said "Arriving Now."

Joe felt like shit, he laid low Friday and Saturday, so he wasn't his usual helper-elf self this time. Shortcuts were therefore required. I had to make a hot list and pick what tasks and chores were Priority 1, and which ones could be skipped. I didn't do the laundry, for example. I hid the laundry. Mount Washmore was clumsily wrangled from its regular situation-- strewn about the bedroom floor and the hallway -- and pushed into the linen closet. And I didn't empty the fridge and scrub the inside to a right proper gleam -- I gave it a cursory wipe and, before setting up the cans and bottles of cheer, put down some sparkly holiday tissue paper to hide the evidence of shamefully shoddy housekeeping. Then I quickly donned some gay apparel and we went to the Atwoods thing, Joe's bass case resting across both our laps in the Uber car.

I still had more cooking and prep to do, so we didn't stay for the whole show. We summoned an Uber after The I Want You set and scooted home to slice carrots & celery sticks, boil water for the pierogi, fill bowls with chips or mixed nuts, assemble the antipasto and the cheese board. The first guests arrived just as I was changing. I rocked some MAC red lips and we were off to the ball.

One element of our holiday party that I love is the new-to-us tradition of making a festive holiday punch. I love my punch bowl. It's a cut-glass kind, the ones that were so popular when I was a kid, you know, with all the little handled cups? It's just like my mom's. She always made a Christmas punch with fruit juice, ginger ale and booze, balls of raspberry sherbet floating made it foamy and extra-festive. I got my punch bowl last fall, scored on the first stop of a hard-target mission to find one, at the larger of the Allston thrift shops, Urban Renewals. The reason I needed a punch bowl was that Joe had gotten the idea to host a birthday party for Mel Torme. My husband owns the largest Mel Torme vinyl collection in Allston Rock City (I'm assuming) and September 13th, 2015 would have been the Velvet Fog's 90th. We did a retro-food theme for that party, to complement the entertainer's impressive decades-long career, so naturally we needed a punch bowl.

That Mel Torme party, we intended to make retro food, but we chickened out. As it happens, party food was gag-inducingly loathesome in the 70s. As a nod towards the theme, we prepared shrimp cocktail, a cheese fondue and deviled eggs, but mostly we just re-named better, edible food in a Mel Torme-theme. That maiden punch was dubbed "Velvet Fog," and my ubiquitous delightful salad with baby greens, craisins and walnuts was "Mountain Greenery," and Joe made a less tacky, more updated champagne & brie "fondue-bee-doo-bee-doo." But we couldn't bring ourselves to prepare anything legit retro. We checked into it. Let's just say that entirely too much ham and gelatin was involved. Often combined together with canned vegetables into something truly diabolical. Pimento olives made far too much of a showing. Everything was formed into a mold, or a loaf. We like our friends, you know. We like to cook them food that they will enjoy, and will make them want to come back and hang out with us again.

Friends don't serve friends "molds."


But Saturday's party had no theme other than the holiday. Just the spiked punch, wine and beer, a festive spread of fantastic food, and lots of friends and music and cookies. It was a typical rolling crowd, some camping out here with us, others stopping in for an hour or two on their travels to, and from, other gatherings. Everyone had a great time, and my face ached from laughing. The last people left around 3am.

Sunday was a blur. Not because a great many things happened, but because zero things happened. We were both still wearing whatever we'd slept in, after the party. We didn't even do much cleaning up. "Why am I so draggy," Joe said, not really asking.  I answered anyway. "Because, my 46-year old sweetheart, we are well past the age of partying all night without consequence." We used to head out for the clubs at like, 9 or 10 at night. The band we wanted to see probably wouldn't be starting until 11. If it was a show I'd booked, or a show he was playing, or both, we wouldn't be home until nearly dawn sometimes. And the next day we bounced right back from that shit. Went to work with the ink stamp on the back of our hand. Kicked ass all day at the office, took a power nap, then went out again that night.

We both had to take Monday off work. We were both still wearing whatever we'd slept in, after the party. We collected bottles and cleaned up in between more lazing, grazing on whatever leftover party food was in our line of sight.

"Camping sucks." - Joe Kowalski, December 12, 2016
We lost power at around 2pm. I discoverd something that I didn't know about Joe. Joe looks out the window quite frequently when there is no power. From what I gather, he's looking for evidence of lights in other houses, and he's also earnestly willing a repair truck to appear on the street. As the afternoon became evening, I lit candles. We talked, we laughed. Joe played the piano. But after awhile, the good-natured cheer wore off. "I want lights and TV," he said glumly. Then, "Camping sucks." I cracked up. Camping.

The power came back around 7pm.

Our energy came back around Thursday.

Now about that hidden laundry...hauled forth from the secret linen closet and sorted. But first thing into the washer: whatever we'd worn from post-party to approximately Tuesday. Alternatively, we could also have burned and buried those pajamas.

That was a great party.  I can't wait for the next one.

I used to  have a hula hoop, two feather boas, and some Jack and Sally dolls.
Now I have a wreath.
Merry Christmas!