Once up, I chauffeured her around for several errands as she is experiencing pain that is restricting a lot of her body movement—not exactly a convenience on the day of her party.
Among the places we stopped were:
- A party store, in which we bought some skewers, doilies, and toothpicks with huge crepe-paper-like balls on the ends of them.
- A beer and wine store, at which she purchased 14 bottles of wine, and a case of Real Ale Fireman's #4 Blonde Ale.
- An upholstery store to pick up some cushions and pillows she was having made for the party, and at which I witnessed the most unsafe environment, in terms of being indescribably cluttered, as well as an incredible fire hazard. We were actually there to pick up the items, but found the woman of the couple who run this mom and pop shop still stuffing one of the pillows, with none of the five cushions in any state of completeness anywhere to be seen. Irene took all this in stride and worked patiently with the couple whose native language was not English. I would have been absolutely livid and flying off the handle myself.
- The grocery store, where we bought things like cheddar cheese, Havarti cheese, Havarti dill cheese, and Havarti basil cheese, some raspberry chipotle sauce for the beef tenderloin, Tostito Bite-Size Rounds, a mixture of black and green Italian olives, and 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese.
- Bed, Bath & Beyond for some candles.
- And eventually back to the cushion store, where to my shock, the goods were ready. It was drizzling a little, so Irene asked them if they had a bag, to which they responded by bringing out a Sam's Club-sized roll of cellophane (which looked like it was for food), and they proceeded to wrap up the pillows and cushions as if they were heading into the freezer for the next month.
I was not familiar with this 50-cent word, perhaps because it was being pronounced as pee-aht-za by these "officer's kids" friends of mine. My Portuguese grandmother and grandfather called their porch that, but pronounced it pee-az-za. Another case of you say ta-may-to and I say ta-mah-to, I suppose.
Irene's sister Susan (visiting from Virginia Beach) did a fantabulous job all day cleaning up said piazza.
Miraculously, everything was just so by 7:35, when the first guests arrived. I was the designated DJ, and accomplished that by switching in and out Irene's and my iPod in her docking station.
I had a fun time with Nicole (Irene's son's girlfriend) and Joy and Kelly, two daughters of a couple friend of Irene's, as we listened (and scream-sang) to some Reba, as well as the three "hip" tunes I have on my iPod—Irreplaceable, Hollaback Girl, and Fergalicious.
The party got a little "Twilight-Zoney" at a couple of points in the evening, mostly because as far as anyone knew, I was supposed to be the only gay person at the party. Not saying that anyone else there was, but let's just say things got a little blurry at times. That way we can blame it on the liquor.
At any rate, I had a great, great time, and I was happy to be with a bunch of accepting and inclusive folks. You know it was a good party, because one seat cushion ended up soaking up a glass of red wine, and my digital camera got knocked out of my hand and slid across the hardwood floor until it hit the wall.
And then there were five. After a brief chess game to determine the sobriety level of one guest, the party presence pared down to Irene, Susan, me, and the last guests, Rob and Jennifer.
They were a real hoot, and before they left we were making tentative plans to ride out to their lake house tomorrow to relax a little.