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The Last to Arrive

The Last to Arrive

The reunion of my best girlfriends from high school can now be called an “annual event.” That’s because
technically you can’t call something an annual event until it’s happened twice. Last year I hosted the
inaugural, and while I enjoyed the company, it’s more fun to be a guest.

This year’s hostess invited us to her vacation home in Bethany Beach, Delaware and specified we were
welcome any time after 4:00 PM. Apparently, we were all raised right because no one was early. I left
after work and was the last to arrive at about 10:00 PM.

Every hellish minute in I-95 traffic was worth it when I was greeted by six screaming ladies on the front
porch, brandishing wine glasses. Each of them embraced me in turn and continued to scream their
greetings in my ear. If you’re ever feeling low, be the last one to arrive at a reunion of half-tanked high
school friends. It’s an amazing ego boost. At that point in the festivities the air conditioner repairman
might have gotten the same reaction, but I’ll take the love just the same.

I was offered food and beverages immediately by my amazing hostess. This was the girl in high school
who most guys wanted to date but got too tongue tied in her presence to form the words. Strangely enough, all that adoration never went to her head. To this day that amazes me. After all the screaming had stopped she took me by the hand, looked very seriously into my eyes and said, “Would you like some chocolate lava cake?”

I turned down the chocolate lava cake but managed to drink waaaay too much Prosecco. So much so
that I fell out of my bunk and had to be tended to by the group’s remaining cogent person. Thank you
Dr. P. I owe you one. She informed me the next morning that I speak fluent Wookie. Who knew?
The rest of the weekend was wonderful. Time on the beach, good food, nonstop talking. I’m still
touched by the memories we all own of each other. It’s like the various puzzle pieces form a complete
cohort’s experience.

We talked a lot about parenting; the way we were parented, the way we parent our kids, and the way
our kids are raising their own kids. I’m more convinced than ever that having a safe and stable home life
is the most important gift you can give a child. It doesn’t have to fit traditional models, but simple
stability is crucial. I’m in awe of the women who could create stable and loving homes when that was
not their experience growing up.

I’m hoping to raise a glass of Presecco among these precious friends for many years to come. We should
probably take turns being the last one to arrive.

Thank you for visiting,


The Barbeque and Other Social Conundrums

The Barbeque and Other Social Conundrums

I recently attended the birthday party of a neighbor held outside on their lawn. The set up was perfect; tables and chairs under a large tent that provided some much-needed shade. The meal was catered by a barbeque outfit, the kind that pulls right onto the venue with a big old cooker that looks like a huge black barrel on its side. They provided appetizers, main dishes, fixins’, and sides. Delicious! A gorgeous dessert table was set up just inside the kitchen of the 1790’s era home. I felt like I was on the set of Steel Magnolias.

The host and hostess were extremely gracious and managed to make each of the guests feel welcome and comfortable. This was quite a feat considering attendees ranged from close relatives and friends to church members to new neighbors. There was also a wide range of ages from about 18-months-old to over 80. Most of these folks were delightful and I’d like to think I’ve made some new friends. I also learned a lot about my new neighborhood. For instance, did you know there is an insurance designation called an “attractive nuisance?” This is something on your property, like…oh I don’t know…say an old mill on a stream that is no longer functional but adds to the beauty and ambiance of the neighborhood. Cool huh?

Whenever I go to an event like this, or any party or celebration, I am always left with the question, “What is the individual guest’s responsibility in terms of socializing?” Is it enough to simply show up, or is there an obligation to interact with other guests including those you don’t know?

I was trained up to be an active participant in social situations regardless of my reason for being there or my mood at the time. This includes making conversation with people and being an active listener. It was part of what a friend of mine calls “Home learning,” and is right up there with saying please and thank
you. I don’t care how old you are or why you attended, I think it’s actively impolite to sit around at a social function looking overtly bored or spending all your time communicating with people who aren’t there. I’m not saying that everyone needs to be a sparkling conversationalist all the time. Lord knows I would fall waaaay short of that goal. I’m talking about really basic stuff like introducing yourself, putting a damn smile on your face, asking appropriate questions, and at least faking interest in the answers. Here are some examples:
“How do you know our hosts?”
“Are you from out of town or local?”
“This barbeque is really good. Are you a fan of the Virginia or North Carolina variety?”
“I see you’re wearing a UVA tie, my condolences.”
It’s not that difficult. Even if you’re shy or socially awkward you can at least try to look pleasant and approachable and teach your children to do the same.

But perhaps I’ve got it all wrong? Do we owe our hosts anything more than our presence? Do we have an obligation to instill some basic social skills in our children and make sure they get some practice before we release them into the wild? Thoughts?

Thank you for visiting.


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