If it is your contention that a party’s purpose is to ensure that new memories get formed, that conversations never get stuck in the “good old days” rut, and that you and your friends err on the side of Experience, then you have set yourself a very high standard for a party. It’s not always necessary to accomplish all these things, mind you, but putting forth the effort takes you 90% of the way there. Sure, we could have a weekend where the high point is beer, but I’m afraid I’ll never be satisfied with that.
Every year I try to set a goal for the Memorial Day get-together, something that can be considered “the big idea”. It has to have most of the following characteristics:
a) Tessa will call it “hare-brained”
b) when you mention it, more than half say it won’t work
c) it has to take a lot of physical labor, and won’t be done even when people are showing up
d) it has to fail spectacularly, or actually be a pretty good idea.
Past ideas have included a quiz show with working buzzers (now a tradition), a full band rendition of a hard ELO song, and even a five-hole 3-par golf course mowed into the cow pastures surrounding our farm – complete with radar golf balls that can be found with a special machine when your 9-iron shot ends up in 5-foot-tall grass the cows haven’t eaten yet.
The golf endeavor was a perfect example: it was utterly stupid, involved backbreaking labor beforehand, the end product was crappy, Tessa rolled her eyes throughout, and when we played on it, we had the best three hours of shitty golf known to mankind.
This year I was inspired by my friend Tammy, who had been on a roller derby team in Colorado – and Tessa, who has been making a comeback in ice skating. I figured the top floor of the barn could possibly make a roller skating rink, if only it were cleared of most of the stuff, and had the right ambiance for a good old-fashioned rink from my childhood.
Which, of course, meant lights. You can get a cheap disco ball on the internet for nothing, and with the new LED technology, you can light up almost anything without blowing a fuse. My favorite part of the setup was hoisting the disco ball into the old hay unloader on the ancient rails at the top of the barn. If that isn’t repurposing, I don’t know what is.
Most of the DJ lights you get these days have built-in microphones that change the light patterns with the music, so once they were on, I was amazed to see it all orchestrated:
Better yet, were the folks like Tammy, Dana and Salem, who all had roller skating skills lurking beneath their exterior, and there’s nothing better than seeing a hidden talent unleashed.
The roller skates themselves were used-but-decent, and some of them were less than $20. After getting a couple of lots off eBay, I had a pretty good free rental center.
And the rest? A hooping performance by Annie made me cry, my daughter did an interpretative dance as Jamie and I played guitar, we had the best North Carolina BBQ ever… I’ll just post some pictures so that old friends in far-flung places can see there’s still room for them…
we project one of this year’s pilots on the wall
Sean, Michelle and I fill in “Give a Little Bit” by Supertramp for the talent show
I defy you to find a more wonderful-smelling flower than the peony
Lucy holds an apple – this pic, and most of the others, by the amazing Lars Lucier – pics also from my new stepbro Jon V.