The Host with the Most
Did you hear that? Of course you did, the whole neighborhood can probably hear him up there making all that racket. Why he decided to put up that stupid dish by himself, I just don’t know.
Jerry’s crazy, he is. Every year his Super Bowl party has to be bigger and better than the last one. Last year it was the big screen plasma TV. I still can’t believe how much he spent on that. The year before it was the leather couch with the built in refrigerator. He almost broke his back getting that into the living room. This year it’s that enormous satellite dish. Jerry says they’ll be able to get the Japanese feed for the game with it. Why they need that, I have no idea.
The man lives for parties, absolutely lives for them. And not just going to them, he has to be the host. To every party he invites everyone he knows and then encourages them to invite their own friends. The more the merrier, he always says. He’s even been known to grab strangers off the street and bring them inside, quickly shoving a drink and cracker into their hands.
Of course he throws parties on the customary days like July 4th and Labor Day, but Jerry just can’t stop with those. He has to have a party on Arbor Day and Chinese New Year and Canadian Thanksgiving.
But he saves the best for the Super Bowl. The other parties are only warm-ups for that one. The amount of time and energy he spends planning this annual festivity is incredible. He obsesses over the tiniest of details. The napkins have to match the plates, the plates have to match the tablecloths and everything has to match the colors of the teams playing. The frosting laces on the cupcake footballs have to be perfect.
Last week in the supermarket he spent forty minutes in the chip aisle. Forty! He said he had to find just the right combination of corn and tortilla.
And don’t get him started on drinks. When I suggested that 12 cases of different kinds of imported beer were enough, he looked at me like I had just kicked his beloved Cocker Spaniel, Charlie.
No one else even comes close to throwing the party Jerry does but that doesn’t stop him from trying to top himself. Three years ago he got a Dick Butkus impersonator. Two years ago he hired a landscape company to mow a giant football into the front lawn. Last year he got the real Dick Butkus. I’m afraid to find out what he’s got planned for this year.
We even met at a party; one of his of course. It was junior year of college and I was passing by his dorm room during one of his monthly shindigs. It was a small dorm room, as most are, but it was crammed with people. The stereo was blasting and Jerry was fighting through the crowd, filling people’s cups with his homemade punch. He smiled when he saw me and said I was welcome to come in.
Even above all the noise I could tell how charming he was. As I found out in greater detail later, he could talk to anyone. He was able to make people feel comfortable and relaxed and that the party wouldn’t have been the same without them.
After we were married a few years later, I became co-host for his numerous parties. I never loved it as much as Jerry, but it was fun for a while.
It was the ice incident of ’88 when things really started souring for me. On a scorching Memorial Day, about halfway through the party, we ran out of ice. Ice was one of the few things Jerry had put me in charge of and he stared at me with an icy look of his own as I backed out of the driveway and headed to the store. When I returned about a half hour later with 20 bags — cubed, not rounded as Jerry pointed out — he could barely look at me.
On Cinco de Mayo six years later there was another unfortunate occurrence, thankfully not my fault this time. The nacho cheese fountain Jerry had rented malfunctioned somehow and several people were sprayed with molten cheese. Though their injuries weren’t too serious, it was several years before Jerry allowed any kind of melted cheese to be at one of his parties.
In fact, now that I really think about it, the major moments of our entire 27 years of marriage can be linked to a party. Our wedding of course, where, at the reception, Jerry acted more like a waiter than the groom.
Our first child, Robby, was born the day before one of Jerry’s Halloween parties. Naturally, he still held the party; ironically enough he went dressed as that guy from Alien, although the doctor told him he didn’t think using the placenta in the costume would be a good idea.
I went into labor with Rebecca during Jerry’s Flag Day extravaganza; he took me to the hospital in his red, white, and blue jumpsuit.
During his Groundhog’s Day party, I got the call that my father had died.
I found out about Jerry’s affair with the caterer as he was planning his summer equinox party. While doing laundry, I discovered one of her menus in a pocket of his favorite pair of pants. On the back was scribbled a very tawdry, albeit poorly written, note. I didn’t say anything to Jerry but he confessed everything right after the party, tearfully proclaiming that her crab puffs couldn’t hold a candle to mine.
And it took me until his Columbus Day celebration, when I saw him pitifully moping around his three Spanish dips, to finally forgive him.
Frankly I’m getting a little weary of the parties. I’m tired of having to constantly worry about carpet stains and rings on the coffee table and the downstairs toilet is always getting clogged up. I think Jerry feels the same way, although he’d never admit it. I don’t see the same glimmer of excitement in his eyes as much any more. I’m starting to think the parties have become somewhat of an obligation; that he feels he needs to keep giving them just because he’s been doing it for so long.
Fortunately he promised me this one’s going to be his last huge bash; the final big blowout. I really hope he means it; I can’t imagine doing this much long-
Oh, did you hear that? Sounds like Jerry fell off the roof again. I better get out there.
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Portland Fiction Project
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