July 16th, 2006

Shag - Luncheon on the Grass

Don't Have the Stories

At a party last night, kukla_tko42 was collecting stories from veterans of the infamous "Brad Parties" (from whence I took my nickname) at the old (long-since bulldozed) Brad Davidian Compound for her (still hypothetical, but apparently partially scripted) future webcomic about those days, working title Bradlands. As I have every time I've been around when she was doing this, I was wracking my brain to come up with any of my own. Last night, I finally figured why I didn't have any of my own: the kind of fun I was having doesn't lend itself to story-telling. The kind of fun I was having wasn't about events, it was about the process.

You see, the most relevant fact as to why I don't have any stories of my own was that it was so easy (and, in my mind so important) to keep moving that I hardly ever stopped in one room long enough for anything interesting to happen to me. The main building in the compound had a stairway at both the north and south ends, so in effect it was laid out as one big vertical oval. A path through it might go like this. If you entered through the side entrance, from the driveway, you came in on the middle landing of the north staircase, down for the laundry room and the blue room (later the leopard pit), up for the upstairs bathroom then the kitchen. So let's go up.

On the top landing you pass the main bathroom, then enter the kitchen, as I usually did about 15 minutes to 20 minutes after the party had actually started. (Cleaning and decorating always ran late, so the last-minute grocery run generally also ran late. Inevitably, other people got all the best parking spaces at my parties.) Ignore the office to your left as I lay out the food on the table, dump the booze and mixers on the counter, stick things that have to be refrigerated in the refrigerator and that need to be cooked first into the stove. Now continue in a straight line with me to the library, which also has the front door. Say hi to the people entering, and the ones hanging out around the comfy chairs and the ones clustered around the futon, and (if it's a Reader's Party) the person sitting in The Comfy Chair with the good reading light and the wireless microphone, reading to everybody over the intercom. On the far side of the library, cut across a short hallway (which goes left towards the master bedroom and the ritual room) and instead take the south stairway down, which dumps you next to the hot tub in the family room.

Take two left turns to go around the hot tub, as I open it up (if it's the beginning of the evening) and check to make sure it's still set at the correct (by my standards) temperature for this time of year, 99°F summer and 101°F winter. The old PowerMac 6100AV is plugged into the whole-house video distribution system including the big TV in this room, broadcasting slides of random weird images off of the Internet, house rules, and announcements of future parties; the old (real) satellite dish receiver is (usually) playing jazz over the whole-house music system. Wave to the people chatting by the fireplace or around the couch or to Da Crew firmly ensconced on the lower smoking deck and head down the short, low ceilinged hallway on the far side of the hot tub that goes to the downstairs bathroom. Zig zag right then left (ducking to dodge the annoyingly low main furnace/AC duct) into the leopard pit. Cross the leopard pit, ignoring the laundry room on the left, and find yourself at ... the bottom of the north stairs. Lather, rinse, repeat. No need to backtrack, no need to stop. And I hardly ever did stop, until I generally crashed around 2:00 or 2:30 am and turned the party over to my Helpful Staff. Once people showed up, my main duty was wandering slowly but steadily from room to room in an endless oval, putting out (figurative) fires, giving people permission to do whatever it was they wanted to do (regardless of their upbringing), cracking wise, and making sure everybody was having a good time.

The main rooms usually also had at least one semi-permanent "staff member," a current or former long-term house-guest, doing likewise for the room she was in. So they all have stories, some of which I apparently haven't heard even yet as I was reminded again last night. Me, I tended to drift through the really good stories without understanding what had happened so far in the story or knowing where it was going to go when I left. But that was cool with me, and in hindsight it still is. One thing I've known for a long time is that I had even more fun planning for those parties than most people had at them, and even the post-mortem over breakfast the next day (what went wrong? what should we do differently? what wore out, and what relationships blew up?) was usually part of the fun for me. But I realized last night that my endless patrols were fun for me. Just not the kind of fun that makes for good storytelling, because it was a continuous, slow, steady kind of fun. You see, I adore hosting people, especially smart people and crazy people and even more so smart, crazy people who are having a good time. Filling up my house with those people and helping them have fun was something I did as often as possible, because it gave me an almost manic pleasure to have so many people in my house, and (nearly) all of them having a good time. I didn't have to share all of their specifics of their good times with them. I didn't even always particularly need to know what particular fun they had. For me, the really, really fun part is hosting the fun.