My husband, Jim, and I just hosted our first Memorial Day Weekend party since moving to Mystic from New York last summer. None of our new neighbors came—are they are still recovering from my "eye-opening" debut last August when I first moved in?
We bought a house within walking distance of downtown Mystic so I would have a fun place to walk our beagle/basset hound, Bailey. At the start of my first stroll downtown, a woman pulled over in her van, and said, "Excuse me."
Expecting her to ask for directions to or some other tourist attraction, I wasn't prepared for what she really wanted to know: "Do you realize the back of your skirt is tucked into your underwear?"
Is that why the neighbors still shoo their children indoors whenever Bailey and I walk by?
Anyway, I wanted our first full summer in Mystic to begin just as it had in previous years—with us inviting everyone we know to a Memorial Day Weekend party at the last moment possible. I dread the work of preparing the house and yard for a party, so I figure it’s best to invite folks within a day or two of the event—that way they won’t expect too much because they'll know I barely had time to prepare.
Although all of my neighbors said they already had plans and couldn’t come (is my first dog-walking outfit still burned in their memory?), we were able to rustle up some new friends who were willing to come: Jim’s co-workers who had never met me (and were therefore unafraid of my wardrobe); Bambi (yes, that is her legal name), who felt compelled to rescue me from my lost and lonely state when we first met at the Department of Motor Vehicles last summer; and a few others who were happy not to have to prepare their own home for a shindig.
Watching Jim clean off our backyard patio with the leaf blower, I thought how lucky our guests were that I had learned from a party in our New York home that leaf blowers were for cleaning outside, not inside.
Our dog before Bailey was Riley, a 100-pound black lab-mix with long hair. Preparing for a “Girl’s Night In” party for my high school friends one evening, I realized I just wasn’t going to have time to vacuum up Riley’s kinky, black hair rolling across the floor and wrapped around chair legs. Everything else was in order. The food was laid out, delicate wine glasses face up, ready to be filled, and water mixed with cinnamon was bubbling on the stove to disguise the doggy smells. What happened next is an excerpt from my memoir, Anything But a Dog!:
"Suddenly I had a brilliant idea! Our leaf blower could blast all the hair to one corner of the house in seconds! Then I could quickly gather it up. Energized by this innovative thought, I flung open the mudroom door that led directly into the garage. Beholding the machine that would clean my house in an instant, I wondered why no one else had ever thought of this before!
"Collecting the leaf blower with its long, orange outdoor electrical cord, I dragged the contraption through the mudroom. Plugging it into a kitchen socket, I pondered a second career for myself—move over Martha Stewart! Adjusting the nozzle toward the floor, I flipped on the switch. The machine sprang to life with a loud resounding woosh. And poof! The dog hair vanished. But not where I wanted it to go! It wasn’t racing tidily toward one corner of the house. Instead, fluffs of it flew high into the air. It landed on ceiling cobwebs and clung to them. Black hair also settled on top of the salsa, hummus, and tortilla chips and gently drifted into the wine glasses. Not exactly what I had planned!
"I wiped as much of the hair off the table and counter surfaces as I could before my guests arrived. Just as I was blowing the hair off the food and out of the wine glasses, the doorbell rang. Once my friends were all seated, and had eaten their fill, I entertained them with the account of my leaf blower disaster. It felt great to make them laugh. I decided, however, that in order to keep the giggles going, it would be best not to burden them with the fact that I’d turned on the blower after their food and wine glasses were already laid out..."
Perhaps you, Dear Reader, may find yourself invited to our party next year. Knowing what you know now, do you dare come?