Friday, June 9, 2023

The Soapbox: The lingering party guest

Brandi Chambless

Well, this is embarrassing.

One year during the thick of the holiday season I was tangled up in decorating tree after tree for friends like it was some sort of candy crack addiction. It was during this season of decorating escapades that I ran into an old friend named Glenn.

We shared a mutual heartache. Glenn’s wife, my friend Lisa, had left us for Heaven. Far too young to go, she left us with the poignant words that “every minute counts.”

“I’m having a New Year’s Party. Please come,” he said. I knew that although I’m not much of a partier I had to go because he was coming out of his season of loss.

Known to colleagues as Glenn, but to friends as “The Glennie” for being extra suave and having a skill of knowing how to throw a good party, I agreed to come.

“What should I wear?” was my obvious question to which he replied to dress comfortably. “It’s just a party at home.”

I really wanted to have a serious discussion with The Glennie about the meaning of “comfortable” when I rang the doorbell on New Year’s Eve dressed like Amy Grant and J.Lo opened the door.

Yes, that’s right. I felt I had on the PERFECT holiday attire to sit around the fireside chat and make some s’mores—a nice sweater and jeans, brand new knitted UGG boots, and a fur headpiece. However, when the door opened, every one of The Glennie’s chick friends had on sequin cocktail dresses and stilettos. The Glennie just had on an island shirt and some pants. He didn’t care that it was below freezing outside. The Glennie does as the Glennie wants to do.

He had set up a room dedicated to beverages only, another set up for a charcuterie board, and yet another for sweets. As I scanned the rooms, I realized that other than The Glennie I didn’t know one soul at the party.

I thought to myself, poor Glenn….how is he ever going to get rid of all of these people?! With this set up we could go on forever.

Since I was dressed like a “Mom”, I found a dish rag and started cleaning up after everyone. I took up plates of leftover carnage and stayed on top of the mess for The Glennie. All the while, he was having himself a good ‘ol time answering the door, mixin’ and mingling, and living life again.

Once I got caught up with the mess, I’d occasionally hop in with the band in the living room loft and sing a French café song or two, but then retreat to the dish rag where I seemed to fit with my current attire.

I watched the clock for the approaching midnight hour. Finally….the countdown was on and HAPPY NEW YEAR! Everyone was shouting and kissing and singing Auld Lang Syne and just when I thought Thank the Lord we can clean up this mess….here comes the Glennie in swim trunks!!

I suppose the frost on the pool liner was just okay with The Glennie and two other friends who jumped right in after him. I remembered what Jack said to Rose in The Titanic about those thousand knives stabbing you all over your body, but I absolutely felt no obligation to say if you jump I jump.

After a while, the house was somewhat cleaner and the crowd had thinned. I really was ready to go home, but would not want to leave my friend with a mess.

I sat on the couch and began to try and rustle up the party guests for a game of 1980s trivial pursuit, a technique I learned at church game night. I had a few takers, but mainly interested in my game was The Glennie’s overly-imbibed grown up Sonny who kept inching his way over toward me as I inched my way closer to the arm of the sofa.

“Which 80s medical drama had the same production company as Hill Street Blues? St. Elsewhere. Correct! Who had a 1980s No. 1 hit with Woman in Love? Barbara Streisand. Right!”….here comes The Sonny.

After a while, we were down to just a handful of party guests.

I kept wondering when are these folks ever going to clear out so I can pick up the rest of the mess.

I couldn’t believe it. After all the freezing water, the excess of food and drinks, and loud party noise they were perfectly wide awake.

“Who was elected Senator for Tennessee in 1985? Al Gore. Good.”…this kept going. The Sonny had his head on my shoulder. Nobody seemed to care.

Something seemed amiss as I studied the scene. Everyone was perfectly content to continue hanging out in the living room as if they had no intention of going anywhere for hours. It was the middle of the night. Though I really needed to leave, I continued to call the questions and The 25-year-old Sonny was now snoring on my lap.

I can’t say exactly the moment I realized I was now the overdressed party in the living room and everyone else including The Glennie was in their PJs. The rouse was up when to my horror I realized the people in my game of trivia were the overnight house guests and it was I who was the lingering party guest who would not leave!!!!

Once they realized I finally understood what was going on, they all burst into laughter and confessed….we were wondering when you would leave….something I probably should have done the second my UGGs stepped through the door. It wasn’t me who was being polite, it was them.

Now The Glennie and The Sonny and I will run into each other from time to time at a party. We always have a good laugh about the night they had an overstaying lingerer for a party guest who had cleaned the entire house and facilitated the best game of Trivial Pursuit ever. As far as The Glennie’s traditional party, I certainly will always be the old acquaintance nobody ever forgot.

Brandi Chambless
Brandi Chambless
Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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