Copyright Taraka & Tara Chronicles, 2018
When you put a group of boys in a room together…
It doesn’t matter how old they are.
We had a poker party last weekend. Technically, it was Todd’s poker party, but I’m the wife and therefore hostess and so it became our party that included food and pool and video games and other things.
I had to leave to pick up Veruca around 3:30, who had been at her dad’s, and it’s a stupid story that defies even my own logic and I don’t want to talk about what happened or why.
Of course I ran out of time to get ready and so when I got back I wasn’t dressed and my hair was a mess, and there were already 3 cars in my driveway. Todd and the three guys were sitting around my dining room table with no beverages and immersed in a discussion about immigration. I said a quick hi bye and ran off to my room to change.
I am very good at pulling off a quick change. Probably an old habit from my former life, where my needs were forced to find a way or forget it. But – we’re not going to talk about that either. Anyway, I was back in 15 minutes – a freaking miracle even by my own standards – and properly greeted the guys. Chris stroked my ego and told me I was getting younger. Jonathan didn’t mention this time that there was less of me than the last time, and I’m pretty sure it’s because he’d be lying.
Jason showed up shortly thereafter, and soon Todd was suggesting they grab some food and prepare for poker, as the others appeared to be running late. So here’s the scenario: The five of them circling the island and chattering about the college, because they all work there and share this knowledge of its inner workings not unlike brothers of some fraternity.
Todd was putting hot sauces on the table for the pulled pork. Jonathan – an innocent-looking man who is the instigator of mischievous shenanigans (recall the vibrator bribe of San Francisco) – throws down a fiver for the first one to do a shot of hot sauce. A SHOT OF HOT SAUCE.
THIS is what happens when grown men are left alone, people. I was invisible at this point. That is, until Todd picked up the glass and looked it over, and I jumped in to inform him I was not going to the ER tonight for anyone. Bunch of middle-aged men acting like frat boys.
So, they moved on to the buffet and the shot sat on the counter with the five dollar bill under it. I told them my brother would do it, because I know him and he’ll do anything for a challenge. This is the same child who spent summers by the pool naked until he legitimately hit puberty. Who can drink virtually anyone under the table and still maintain the appearance of sobriety. Who brought a $150 bottle of Don Julio 1942 to our summer party a few years back and handed out shots to our whole family. The bottle was empty in twenty minutes. Not a Gemini, but he flies by the seat of his pants, like me. Except that I would never do a shot of hot sauce. Not for FIVE bucks. FIFTY, maybe.
A friend and daughter arrived shortly thereafter; B – nicknamed The Boss by Todd during softball season – was having a sleepover with V. (Incidentally, Todd has renamed Veruca “Havoc.”) So, we had Boss and Havoc playing Xbox with my brother and Opac, and later using the Oculus Rift in the guest room, squealing to a little game called Face Your Fears – which I refuse to do since I don’t need to be crawling with spiders or being chased by clowns. The rollercoaster one might be fun, or I thought so until both Todd and V said it made them want to hurl when it was over.
The poker game commenced, and Melissa and I picked at the 7-layer dip and veggies and deviled eggs and buffalo chicken dip upstairs for a while, sharing relationship horror stories because isn’t that what women do?
My brother, another bloodhound like Veruca, made his way upstairs to the food table and immediately noticed the shot glass with the 5 dollar bill under it. And like a true 20-something, knew exactly what was going on. He asked what was in the glass and –I told you so – he picked it up, threw it back, and pocketed the bill.
Chris#2 and Brenda arrived shortly after and so we all went down to the poker area together. I asked them if anyone said goodbye to them the last time we were here, because these were the folks I passed out on at our last soiree. Brenda laughed it off and I felt a bit better that Todd had walked them out.
Pool commenced with Melissa and I both proclaiming “it’s been a while,” and then neither of us played too badly except that Jamie – who doesn’t play poker but loves a good game of pool – was whispering under his breath and bugging his eyes the entire time like a coach biting his tongue.
I drank more Dogfish than I had planned, but had the good sense to filter it with water in between bottles so I remained buzzed, but lucid. Two more guests arrived, and I led them to the food and beverages, and Dan dropped his non-alcoholic beer where it exploded on the floor – just like at frat parties! – except we adults immediately cleaned it up. I suggested it was a sign that he was supposed to start with a nice scotch.
Back downstairs….Jamie jumped into the pool games and otherwise sat on the sidelines next to me, speaking in the low tones of a golf announcer, calling the play by play of the action on the table that had us all in stitches. Todd and Fred played a game I recorded nearly all of, with commentary from Jamie and myself about blue balls in pockets and scratching balls, and I thought we’d all pee ourselves over our cleverness and humor.
Brenda sat with us for a bit and shared relationship horror stories. What IS it about me? I have met more women in the last three years who have apparently seen a neon Open For Business sign on my forehead. I think I’ve chosen the wrong career path. And, before I sound snarky and insincere, I do often wish I had gone into social work and/or counseling. I might have done some good for others; I really do want to help.
Except for my one friend, whom I spoke to last night who would probably disagree since I had no new advice for her on her dilemma over her offspring. Raising kids is tough. Raising adult kids who appear lost is maddening. My conflict, too, is while I would suggest that tough love is the way to go, I am also a mother who loves her son beyond all reason and I know that I would feel exactly the same way that she does. I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite. She’s another of those whose ex sounds like a work of fiction – behavior so outrageous and narcissistic, he can’t be for real.
Oh wait —