You know your party’s too big when you have to buy ice.
I mean, I have a freezer. It has an ice maker. So ice is basically free (factoring in the pennies spent on electricity and water). When you buy ice, it’s a sign that life is deviating from the norm.
It started simply enough. Our next-door neighbors were back home after months out of the country. We wanted to see them, so we invited them over for the holiday weekend. And then we invited the neighbors on the other side, since we all get along and a party of six is more fun than a party of four.
Then my husband ran into neighbors up the block while walking the dog. They accepted an invitation. While they were chatting about “what to bring” and so forth, like you do when you’re planning a party, other neighbors walked by with their dog, so they were invited too. And then it seemed unfair not to invite the neighbors behind us, since a pretty big party with most of the other neighbors was now unfolding in our yard.
Now 16 people are coming.
My husband’s excited. He likes to play the host, and he enjoys big parties. He gets to show off his fancy grill to the other men. During normal times (that is, when there’s no party) he’s none too eager to cook, shop, clean and organize. But when a party’s unfolding, he springs into action – liquor store, grocery store, vacuuming, sweeping, making burgers and setting out chairs. Dishwasher full? He’ll empty it. Buy ice? No problem. And after the party’s over, he will clean up every single thing. He likes to come downstairs the morning after a big party and remark that it looks like there was never a party. I don’t know why this thrills him so, but it thrills me that I don’t have to do all the work.
I am indifferent about parties. I would rather have a smaller gathering. I would sometimes rather have none. But once the party starts, I will be glad we’re having it. So I baked cookies, made deviled eggs, tossed a watermelon and feta salad and mopped the kitchen floor.