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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Today At The Punch Bowl ...

Yeah, like I mentioned in an earlier post I'm finally in a new place. It's small but very manageable and with only a 20 minute work commute on "good" traffic days. I don't miss worrying about mowing my lawn or shoveling snow anymore, but now I do have to contend with new stimuli like a fairly noisy neighborhood and keeping my music turned down so as not to piss off the tenant downstairs.

Anyway, a few friends and co-workers convinced me to have a housewarming party. I hate having gatherings in tight spaces, but I agreed if a) we kept the guest list small and b) no gifts ... I didn't need anything since I'd lived on my own for quite some time.

It was about 8:30 p.m. on a Saturday ... Party Condition A went out the door when my buddy Trevor decided to attend with three of his drinking buddies, and my one brother decided to crash with a date, and my six "official" workplace invitees turned into 11 co-workers and three spouses-slash-significant others. Add that to the four other non-work friends I asked over and there were 24 people in my new place. Luckily I had some folding chairs in storage and the weather outside was nice ... four guests were smokers and that's something I wasn't keeping indoors. No way ... no how.

My brother and his date ran out for ice and extra beer, and luckily three of my office buddies were true to their word and brought booze and lots of dips and finger foods. I had ordered a fancy cake and had also purchased a cheesecake and two dozen brownies. No one was going to starve.

I was milling around, making small talk and checking on chips and pretzel bowl levels when there was a pounding at the door. I quickly went over and opened it, relieved to see that it was another friend, Mike, and not the fire marshall or my landlady who lives right next door.

"Hey, buddy," Mike said with a quick guy hug. "I brought Absolut (vodka) and that Tetteri stuff you like (ouzo), but I about busted my ass on those boxes on the landing ... someone's gonna break their goddamn neck!"

Boxes? What boxes? I was about to go on a fact-finding mission in my stairwell when a few people half-heartedly yelled "surprise." With a slightly sick feeling in my gut, Party Condition Two went up in a puff of smoke.

Basically, I'm picky ... that's why I really stressed that no housewarming gifts were expected ... or needed. Nobody listens these days. Two ladies from work went together and got me a set of blue and green checkered kitchen towels ... for my gray and black kitchen. R.J., sort of a distant member in my "extended family," also ignored the no-gifts theme and bought me a crockpot-style candle warmer that I'll never use and regift as soon as I possibly can. My good friend Allyson got me a fake orchid that looked, well, fake. Stacy, who'd I'd known for about six years and who definitely knew better than to bring a gift, took a black-and-white photo of my neighborhood and had it matted and framed ... there is nothing attractive about my neighborhood. Steve, a dud ... I mean dude, I mean dud ... from work and two other guys went together and got me an aquarium-themed shower curtain and matching bath mat from Bed Bath and Beyond, and they kept the receipt, thank God. Gail, my best friend at work, didn't bring a gift but as she passed me heading to refill her wineglass, she whispered that she had something "coming soon" to christen my new digs. And my friend Calvin ... wise, all-knowing Calvin ... just stood in a corner and smiled, frowned, shrugged, and winked at the appropriate moments.

The two final gifts were from a couple I pal around with ... Beth and Richie ... and my good bud Trevor. The "marrieds" got me an intricate wooden Buddha to bring me good luck (he would fit beautifully in the "lucky" coat closet ... and Trevor, to the snickering of his cronies, handed me an unwrapped porn DVD. "Many happy returns," he choked out before busting up and heading outside with his posse.

Everyone was gone by midnight ... all the gifts were shoved in the afore-mentioned closet by 12:05.

POINT OF RANT: Every known occasion should come with a registry so that people know the proper items NOT to buy you.

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