Sunday, July 11, 2010

Middle-aged Parties

In my teens, when I went around looking like Cherokee Jesus or something, I attended a couple of parties; well, a half dozen or so. I'm not going to talk about those experiences. Yeah, you probably think my reticence is due to statute of limitations concerns, but it's not that. Mostly, I just don't remember.

They were apparently some fairly boisterous affairs, at least that's what the Police officers told me later. I am competent to reflect on the mood of the old times, and compare it with the party we hosted last evening.

Middle-aged parties, the music isn't quite as loud. You'd think it'd be right opposite, because after all our hearing isn't what it used to be. Loud music is useful when you're around people and you can't think of a darned thing to say to them. By age 53, you should've learned not to invite such people. Which brings me to another crucial difference between teenage parties and middle-aged parties; turnout.

When you're a teenager, it's not a party unless you have more than twenty people. Like many seemingly bizarre cultural practices, there's a hidden logic at work there. For one thing, if something really bad happens, it can be blamed on some 'weird kids who just showed up.' Yes, it's true the more attendees, the more likely it is something bad will happen, but? Via sheer numbers, it's less likely the bad thing will happen to you personally.

Main thing is, for teenagers, social status is in part derived from the size of parties attended/hosted. Middle-aged parties, not like that.

And last evening's party, there were little ones milling about. That's a common thing in middle-aged parties. One guest might have a six year old, another guest might be talking about her son in the Army, and both guests are the same age. Members of my generation did our reproductive duty on a totally unpredictable timetable.

So I guess this is where I talk about alcohol consumption. Among my social circle they're just around many people who consider drinking a competitive sport. Oh I'm sure such individuals are out there somewhere; they're just not going to be found on my patio on Saturday night.

A middle-aged party is a handful of people sitting around, conversing quietly on the kids, politics, work. The grille is going, snacks are provided. Every once in a while "Amber Nicole! I said stop that!" pierces the soft evening air. No fist fight breaks out, nobody vomits... well I think maybe Amber did once, but that's not my point.

My point is that one's vocabulary changes through the years. What teenagers call a party, I would now call a near-riot. What I now call a party, teenagers would call a bunch of old people sitting around. Congrats David! You've turned into your parents!!!