Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Blonde Duck Tries To Act Like She's Been To Town Before

Well, this weekend was unusually social for my husband and I. Normally, I like to hide in my bubble on weekdays and emerge on weekends, like a butterfly from a cocoon. My exhausted husband prefers to go out on nights and send the rest of the weekend buried in his dark office like a mole. If you shine a light on his face and plea for him to come out, he squints his eyes and burrows deeper into his hole. He can only be lured out with the promises of nachos and malts, an appealing combination for all.

Saturday we went down to see my Mom after her surgeries, and to spend time with her. Some of her friends were having a party down the street, and she was unable to attend. My dad asked us to make an appearance, so being the dutiful children, we pranced down the street to Cindy and Norm's house. Norm was out the door, laughing as he said in his thick Scottish accent, "I saw you coming across the yard there, cutting through the bushes like that." Ben's eyes widened at the accent, and I tried not to laugh. We thanked them for having us and went to the backyard, where tons of kids were swimming in the pool and the adults were chatting in the shade. I went and spoke to my Mom's friends, watching as my sister floated around in the saltwater pool with the other kids.

My husband was having a swell time. Beer in hand, he had settled on entertaining everyone with stories and fun. Jonell was harassing him, which made it even better. "Let me tell you kind of a story," he said. "Well is it a story or isn't it a story?" she interrupted laughing. Ben grinned with that little twinkle in his eye as he toasted her and made everyone laugh. Poor Cindy thought Ben didn't have a beer and was trying to help him open it. "No, it's empty, I drank it!" he said. "It's a trick. Wanna see me do it again?"

The evening was full of switches between us and dad and an entire parade of food down to the house. Mom looked delighted to see all her friends, and even more delighted to see the bread and potato salad. Danielle looked delighted to get back to the pool.

Sunday, back in our bubble, the neighbors invited us to a birthday party for their daughter who was turning one. I baked peanut butter cookies to take a few over and then to Dave's, who bless his heart, had invited us to dinner in an attempt to try culturing us again. The boy does not give up. We were late to the party, and Ben went first while I finished getting ready and grabbed the cookies. When I walked over, he looked terrified as he stared at 8 screaming children. They were squirming and splashing in a blow up swimming pool, running and throwing balls and frisbees, and a few were having temper tantrums in the grass. The adults sat under the shade of a canopy and drank while trying to ignore the squirming 18 month old who after crawling, decided he really did not like grass and preferred the comfort of his mothers lap. The birthday girl herself was throwing a tantrum and looked like she needed a nap.

We chatted with the parents for awhile and watched the children crawl around on the grass. Ben looked at me in alarm and I laughed and whispered in his ear, "No, I do not have baby fever." He looked a bit more relieved as he continued staring at the children and rubbing his head. He looked like a scientist studying apes and trying to figure out why they were picking fleas out of each other's fur. Fifteen minutes later, he decided it would be wonderful if we left. He breathed a huge sigh as relief as we got to our front door. "Children, everywhere" he muttered as he went running to his office. "Crawling, swimming, screaming...." He didn't emerge from his office for 45 minutes.

Then we went to Dave's, Ben ravenously staring at the road as he drove. Having gotten over his fear of small children and his earlier trauma, he now decided he was hungry. He was licking his lips and looking longily at Dave's apartment where he was sure there would be food. After we entered, he made a beeline for the kitchen and hovered around. Once again, poor Dave was trying to entertain the "California way." The "California Way" of entertaining and hosting a dinner states that dinner is a several hour affair. You start with drinks and appetizer, have causal conversation, salads and dinner, then relax afterwards and perhaps have desert. Then there's the Ben and Miranda Texan Way: Kill it, Grill It, Eat it, and Move On. So, it's interesting learning about other cultures.

Ben was not thrilled with this arrangement until Dave provided us crackers and dip, which Ben attacked like it was going to move and leave him. He even ate cucumbers, which shocked the daylights out of me. Currently satisfied, Ben moved onto investigating Ben's new furniture and computer. He poked around Dave's room investigating every square inch as I watched TV and shook my head in amusement. Dinner was a success as we managed not to trash out Dave's house and leave everything a complete wreck. Dave was pleased, Ben was happy and fed, and after chatting on the porch we left to put Ben to bed. With a full belly and a fresh haircut, he happily crawled into bed to dream of small computers instead of small children.

With that, I think our weekend of social interaction was a success. While Californians still find us to be hillbillies, at least we know we that we can still fit in at a Texas bbq in the backyard. As Ben said, "For some reason, people our age don't think I'm funny; but older adults who have drank a little find me hilarious." Perhaps after this we will be invited to town more often.