Sunday, March 30, 2008

When the Stars Seem to Shine Like You've Had Too Much Wine (from a box)

Friday night, Ian, Renee, Jeff and I went to a dance fundraiser at the kids' school. It was adults only, BYOB, and intended to benefit the 8th Grade Class so they can afford the myriad of activities they have slated for graduation. Consequently, most of the parents--and grandparents--who showed up were unfamiliar to me, since their kids were in the older classes. My lil' posse of PreK and Kindergarten parents wouldn't have been caught dead there.

Except for the four of us. It's simple, really: A BYOB dance in a church hall in the Cove? Are you kidding me? We needed to see this.

We arrived and parked a few spots away from an SUV with a "TOO HOT FOR THIS CAR" bumpersticker. We all actually felt nervous and a little sick about the dance, especially Renee and I who have deep roots in the neighborhood and were insecure about who we might run into from our "past". Armed with a corkscrew, two good bottles of wine and two six packs of beer-snob-beer, we descended into the hall, where the Satins recorded "In the Still of the Night" some 50 years or so ago.

The lights were much too bright for a dance, but we accepted it. It allowed us to see what was before us: table after table stocked with amazing quantities of booze. Bad booze. Yes, some people had the expected standards for this part of town, like Grey Goose and Coors Light. But my eyes immediately jumped to not one but two boxes of wine. Across the way was a table sporting jugs of Carlo Rossi. Yet another table had Corvasier. And Jello shots. There was an apparent sober table, too, with coffee and water. But then someone in their party showed up with--guess what!?--a box of wine.

We pulled out our Wine and Beer Snob selection, while Renee and I snickered about the number of old Italian men leering at our tits. We didn't even consider sharing a bottle--we each grabbed our own, and seriously contemplated swigging straight from the necks rather than pouring a couple of ounces into plastic cups. Other tables had their own crystal for the occasion. And some people had even brought their own food--and this was a catered event.

We were obviously so ignorant.

Not only we were the palest (read: non-tanning) individuals in the hall of 125 or so, we were also the youngest. Or at least we looked the youngest. Tired, old Italian men with unhealthy tans and new leather jackets were everywhere, with their shellacked, heavily made-up wives and daughters that looked looked as equally tired and tan. Did these people have hard lives, or did they just suffer the consequences of hard alcohol and too many tanning beds? Either way, as the candle on our table flickered above its display--a little octagonal mirror--I leaned over and said to Renee that all I could think of was the line from Goodfellas when Lorraine Braco says that all the Mafia wives looked tired and old, and their skin was bad. As if reading my mind, Ian announced to the table, "We gotta go home and watch Goodfellas tonight."

As Renee and I took our cups o'wine with us on a walk around the raffle and silent auction tables, there was a run on the stuffed bread. Ian and Jeff pulled out of line to complain to us: "They're all out!"

"What the hell are you doing?" we yelled. "Get back in line!"

More bread was served, a precursor to the typical catered Italian fare we had later that evening. But the night wasn't about the food.

We drank. We danced. We considered inviting the token Asian couple, sitting alone, to join our naive party of four, but they were soon joined by the token black couple of the night. It was better they didn't join us, anyway. Our table was quickly degenerating into one too many inside jokes and cellphone pics of cleavage as Renee and I plowed headlong through our bottles of wine. We watched as women in their fifties staggered, two by two, into the ladies room. We were amused that some moms walked around with margarita glasses brimming with drinks blended fresh at their tables. And we even danced. Well, we slow-danced, anyway. Swaying to the oldies.

As the night wore on, we all drained our bottles and contemplated leaving--but we had to at least stick around for the raffle. I lost the 50/50. Those were the red tickets. And Renee had a sleeve of green tickets for the regular raffle. After a while, though, it became clear that everyone in charge of the raffle was too hammered for the job, especially when they started drawing red tickets for the regular raffle instead of green ones. It was a mess. We corked our remaining sips of wine and headed out the door and toward the car, where Renee handed me the mirror from our table.

"Let's get out of here before these people start backing into each other in the parking lot," said Ian.

Despite the fact that I killed off almost an entire bottle of Punto Final Malbec by myself that night, I woke up in decent shape on Saturday morning. And after a few errands and a quick trip downtown to Origins, I went out for a frigid run at lunchtime. It was tough going, though. The wind was brutal and near impossible to run against down by the water. I did my best, and later in the day my brother and sister came over for taco night with me, Ian and the boys. And we all watched the Kids' Choice Awards on Nick.

This morning I whipped us up some bitchin' french toast and grilled bananas before Church, somewhere I've found myself more frequently these days. My sister is about to make her confirmation, too, so I felt I should make the effort to hustle everyone into the 10AM at St. Bernadette's today. Sean and his friend Nick waved to each other for the duration of mass, and the priest that married me (the first time around--no priests will be involved when I marry Ian)--and whose brother is my accountant--was a guest officiant of today's service. We saw other friends from school and the community, and I was reminded that my neighborhood is not solely comprised of carcinogenic tough guys and their old ladies. It's mostly good, hardworking people...even if some of them are too tan and drink really bad alcohol.

Before the morning was even finished, Grandma came by with my cousin Maureen up on a visit from from DC, and my Uncle Danny, who has been home every weekend from NY since Grandma was diagnosed with cancer. "We were just on the Green for Mass," Grandma announced.

"Why were you on the Green?" I asked.

She looked incredulous. How could I not know, she seemed to wonder. "For the anniversary of the Uprising!" said Grandma, somewhat shocked. "Fr. Holt said the Mass. And it wasn't too cold if you could find a place in the sun."

Ah. The Easter Uprising of 1916. Good old fashioned Irish rebellion. Google it if you're not familiar with it.

I'm half Irish and 1/4 Italian. The remaining quarter is Hungarian, but I don't know much about it except that I like pierogies--and I think those are Polish, anyway. But the point I'm getting at is this: The Italians do things like hole up in church basements and drink bad booze and dance and slowly get lovey and sloppy with everyone around them. The Irish stand and freeze at an outdoor Mass in March, all in remembrance of what boils down to another fight amongst themselves. Then they hole up in pubs and drink bad booze and celebrate the backhanded affection they feel for everyone in their lives.

I'll take the basement.

My full house emptied out sometime in the afternoon, and Nolan and I immediately fell asleep on the couch while Sean engineered some new spaceship out of Legos. After some tea and an hour of baseball in the setting sun before dinner, the weekend officially wound down. Even the kids didn't put up a fight. They were asleep before 8:30.

I had a great weekend.

Hope you had a great one, too.


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