Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reasons why we never go anywhere

A two-part tale.

Part One

About six weeks ago, Dan, an former colleague, emailed a dinner invitation to Rhett (another former co-worker) me. I confirmed with Sue that we were available*, and told them both that "we" would be there. Rhett and his wife have three children, I recalled, and I was sure they'd play nicely with ours. I picked out a couple wines, loaded the family up, and off we went.

* - Why anyone ever asks me if I am (we are) available on a given date is beyond me. Sue knows these things, not me. Between birthdays, sports, practices, and various other get-togethers, I am hopeless when it comes to keeping up with our schedule.

Rhett and his wife arrived before us. Sans children. I later learned that our hosts were, um, surprised that we brought ours. I'm clueless, of course, and didn't pick up on any of this. In fact, I was so out of it, that when Sue told me on the way home that the children were not expected, I didn't believe her. But then I went back to the original email. "Dinner... wives... might take some time to arrange sitters..." Well then. Yes, we brought our four children to a formal dinner party. Whoops.

Our gracious friends handled it well, to their credit. They read to our children; they grilled hot dogs for them; they sat on the living room floor and ate off the coffee table while the Aw2pp crew commandeered the kitchen table. Our children, to their credit, were also very good, with no known episodes of crying / whining / potty accidents / breaking things*.

* - Unless you count the page Rowan ripped out of some 100 year-old dictionary**. FWIW, the page was blank.

** - No, I don't know how Ro got her hands on a 100 year-old dictionary.

So I did send a hat-in-hand note to Dan, apologizing for inadvertently doubling the size of the guest list. I thanked them for being the wonderful, gracious people that they are. Dan's response to me began: "Aw2pp, you ignorant slut!"

I believe that means they are still coming to Joey's first birthday party this weekend.* But wow, we're clearly rookies at this dinner party thing.

* - I think. Remember, Sue owns our schedule.

Part Two

Sue has some old friends from back in college, a couple who recently moved to Des Moines. That's a reasonable car trip from here, so we packed up the family and spent a recent weekend with them. Good times. They had a daughter (and her 2 year old) in town, and it was lots of fun to see Rowan play with a peer for once.

"Thank you, drive through please!" Ro has some experience with McDonald's drive-thru's. I love how the yellow shirt she had on goes so well with the rest of the ensemble. And no, this is not the same playset that topped the list of Cracked.com's "9 Toys that prepare children for a life of menial labor".

Our weekend hosts drink lots of fancy California Cabs, and we made a small dent in the collection. We also watched a lot of golf, and marveled at Tom Watson's British Open almost-win.* And though it was too cold for much swimming**, the kids handled it well, and busied themselves with other activities, including an afternoon visit to a Living History Farm.

* - It hurt to see that wind up the way it did... and I say that as a fan of the eventual winner, Stuart Cink.

** - Which didn't stop us, mind you, we still went swimming at their country club. Had the place to ourselves, we did. Ro and Joey were pleased.

Among things you learn at a Living History museum:

You learn where milk really comes from. (Jason was enthusiastic, getting right in there.)

(Jillian, keeping a respectful distance, not so much.)

You develop an appreciation for modern conveniences, like indoor plumbing.

You learn that children 100 years ago couldn't play the piano if they couldn't reach the pedals. (Sorry, Ro, maybe next year.)

When we weren't doing fun things like milking cows, one of the kids' pastimes was playing with our hosts' ancient Chihuahuas, Chica and Carlos. Jillian, Jason, and Rowan liked chasing them around the house, and taking them for walks. Carlos was feisty, and would holler at you periodically for no apparent reason. Chica was the skittish sort, who trembled all the time, and didn't like to make eye contact. Neither of them
particularly enjoys company, so it was with some surprise when, on Friday night, Carlos seemed to soften his disposition, particularly towards Jason, who had been tormenting him most of the day. Carlos actually sort of cuddled up on Jason's lap at one point during the evening, which seemed to make them both very happy. Our hosts, pleasantly surprised, remarked, "Wow, Carlos never does that." It was just about that time that Jason noticed that Carlos' nose was not wet. We all made some other observations, too, that maybe Carlos was not himself.

"That cough doesn't sound good."
"Yeah, he's been fighting something lately. Vet said not to worry about it."

"Does he always shake so much? I thought Chica was the one who shakes all the time?"
"Well, it is chilly out here."

During the night, there was some howling coming from the laundry room, where the dogs slept, but apparently they howl at night on a regular basis. They're, after all, Chihuahuas. Jason was the first one up Saturday morning. He heard Chica barking from upstairs, and wanted to go on the morning walk with the dogs. But they couldn't find Carlos. (Hopefully you have some sense as to where this is going... if not, you are in for a shocker.)

Evntually, David, our weekend host, found him in his bed. Yes, like his more famous cousin Gidget, Carlos had breathed his last, and joined the Great Chalupa in the Sky.

The last picture taken of Carlos. That's him on the right, under Jason's control.

Our host family made the requisite arrangements (I'm surprised how much it costs to cremate a Chihuahua), shared the news with their other children, and did what they could to assure us that we did not hasten the poor animal's demise. Once that was all taken care of, they then turned their attention to their fancy sound system, which we had done something to. Thankfully, they were able to get that fixed, and life returned to normal.

Chica, last we heard, seems unaffected by the situation. She still trembles and looks frightened all the time.


Don't invite us over. We mean well, we really do, but perhaps it's best that we keep to ourselves for a few years.

- Aw2pp, amateur haiku critic

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