Thursday, July 14, 2011

Late To The Party

I'm forever late to the party. Consider these sad occasions:

BIRTHDAY PARTY AS A KID -- I'm thinking of a birthday party I went to as a kid. It was out in the country, and it just so happened I was late. They were already whooping it up and no one could be inconvenienced to search the house for one more party favor. Some of the other kids wanted to get on with it, so I felt shunned. I left the house crying, went out to the pigpen and started poking at the pigs with a stick, then I started walking home. I just saw the kid in June whose birthday it was back then and he said his biggest memory of me was poking pigs with sticks. I said my biggest memory of him was how he put the names of various fruits as the capitals of states on a 5th grade test, Apples being the capital of California. He said he didn't remember that, and I said I didn't remember the pigs.

MAKE-OUT PARTY AS TEEN -- There were some kids getting together, also out in the country, as it turned out. I had some trouble getting my ride out there because Dad worked late. I was a little embarrassed to go anyway because my clothes were always hand-me-downs and I was the oldest kid. Meaning these were from my uncle one generation back. I looked pathetic in bib overalls. By the time I got there they had the candles going and everyone was paired off, kissing and feeling each other up on the couches. One guy came out and rubbed it in, "There's a knothole on the tree outside." I thought, "What's he think I am, a woodpecker?" Coincidental with this, I never married.

POLITICAL PARTY AS YOUNG ADULT -- They lowered the voting age to 18, but I was still looking for a girl as good as that tree, so I didn't get politically involved right away. Once I did, the other young adults my age had already been voting for four years. Making them experienced in the ways of government. Still, I wanted to fit in, so I started espousing a socialist agenda, which turned out to be passe by then. "We're not 18 anymore! The proletariat can kiss our ass!" one young Republican said. I looked out the window and saw some angry young men walking en masse down the street. I went out and joined the environmental movement, becoming a tree-hugger.

COCKTAIL PARTY AS OLDER ADULT -- I was working at a crummy job. I know, a job is a job, but that doesn't mean the other older adults respect you. A lot of the guys in my town were industrial magnates, with wives with gowns cut low like Jayne Mansfield. They had long cigarette holders and seldom smiled, a totally dismissive look. So I didn't get into the whole cocktail party scene early on. It pays to be early, to set the standard. If you're late, you have to measure up. A guy I knew in high school, who later became my boss, and since he always punched my arm in high school he was still a mean SOB, insisted I come with him to the cocktail party. "You can scrub these toilets later!" So we went, him and his empty cocktail glass, me and my brush and bucket.

NURSING HOME HALLOWEEN PARTY -- One great thing about being in a nursing home is they don't expect much out of you. If you reach up and knock over a pitcher of orange juice, they don't scold you. You just sit in your chair and stare and it's all the same to them. Another great thing is they have party after party, for every holiday. They decorate the bulletin board with holiday art so you're always well-oriented as to what time of the year it is. It turned out this one time it was fall. They came in with a big sheet and told me we were going to the Halloween party. They obviously wanted me to be a ghost. The problem was, all the other old folks were residents before me, so my room was at the very end of the hall, meaning I was the last one wheeled into the party. A couple guys looked at me, then slumped their heads. It didn't even register that I was late.

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