Cocktails for 25
Last night there were more Jews in my home than the sum total I knew in high school, college, grad school and while teaching high school. The number you are looking for is 25. In 1997, we had to import Jews to make a minyan for the Jawa's bris; last night we could have stocked multiple minyans, had there been any male infants needing God's blessing for their circumcision.
The occasion was a cocktail party for parents of the Jawa's classmates. Sandra Bullock and the Hammer got roped into being class parents, so we were responsible for hosting some kind of get-together. Being who we are, we eschewed the usual picnic for a child-free cocktail party.
Actually, almost child-free. Somewhere in the basement, the Jawa and Shaman lurked, eating pizza and playing with their "Star Wars" miniatures.
Early in the evening, I played the "Dad who'd rather be downstairs with the kids" role. It always takes me awhile to warm up to a crowd, even more so when I'm self conscious about the how the polo shirt I'm wearing doesn't seem to be as flattering as it was when I bought it, so I hid downstairs for awhile. The Jawa kept telling me, "Dad, you can stay down here," which was touching, but even he knew my responsibilities lay upstairs. So up I went.
Two summers ago, S. Bullock and I had a joint 40th birthday party. It came late in the season of 40th birthday parties, so we had quite a template to draw from. Would we have a catered, formal affair? A family-friendly hoedown, complete with backyard bouncy house? Or would we stay consistent with our populist beliefs and recreate the boistrous college parties of our youth?
We chose the last option, and to this day there are about 100 people whose memories will forever hold the image of Princess Grace poised to inhale 12 oz. of Coors Light through a beer bong.
At that party, many of our BHDS invitees stayed in semi-isolation in the living room, creating their own Jewish ghetto of casual taste, preferring the taste of well-chosen red wine to the blue-collar joys of the keg out back. The Wine Guy manned the stereo, sprawled out atop a bunch of pillows on the floor, feeding the CD player with whatever classic rock he could find in my extensive but too-often marginal CD collection.
I think everyone had a good time, but it made me wonder, as we prepped the house yesterday: will the Brandeis crowd sit quietly in the living room? What was in store for us on this night?
I am happy to say that the crew of private school parents chose last night to let their collective hair down. They arrived shortly after seven and began to consume cosmopolitans as if they were Kool-Aid. It wasn't long before even my lame and tired "Oh, be careful, I hear that stuff will leave an awful stain on your skirt," joke, aimed at Mr. San Francisco for the sin of enjoying peach cosmopolitans, seemed fresh and hilarious to the assembled crowd.
In the absence of the wine guy, I tried to provide music that would surprise and please, but soon realized that the high decibal level was drowning out each of my clever and sophisticated choices. The loud, innate New York-ness of everyone in the crowd -- and you know that if you are a Jew, whether or not you're actually from New York has little effect on the level of your New York-ness -- had risen to the surface.
At a little after 8, the Jawa's teacher, the seemingly Indie Rock guy, arrived holding two tubs of antipasta. He was quickly cornered in the kitchen, first by Mr. San Francisco, who engaged him in a conversation about educational policy. ("I had to stop," Mr. SF later said. "I didn't want to be that dad that cornered him and wouldn't leave.") Two by two the parents approached Indie Rock guy as I lingered nearby, eavesdropping. Most had something to say about education and/or schools.
Eventually, I went out to the living room, to make sure everyone was having a good time, and finally, after five years of sharing the same school, revealed to The Real Journalist that he and I were in the same business, albeit me in a more sophomoric, far less profitable way. We ended up talking about Bob Dylan with another parent, a small, red-haired mom who produces small, red-haired daughters with big, Bette Midler-like voices.
I am almost certain that the people who attended last night's cocktail party all had a good time. I am unaware if anything scandalous was said or if anyone's feelings were hurt. I do know that one parent who plays down the fact that he once shared the stage with Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, got slightly miffed at me when I didn't know who brought the spanikopita. Otherwise, good feelings were all around.
"I hope at least one person has a hangover this morning," I announced to Sandra Bullock as we shuffled around our surprisingly clean house today. "The Skyy vodka bottle is almost empty!" she announced cheerily in response. S. Bullock and I have always prided ourselves on being good party-throwers. Though the days of parties where windows are broken and TVs thrown off the roof are long over, it's nice to know we can still rile up a bunch of private school parents enough so that they wake up hoarse the next morning.