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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Before You Go: ‘Party Time’

CRL columnist John Gray on the perils of partygoing.

It has been said that guests, like fish, stink after three days. If you invite me to a party at your home you should know I can stink up the place much quicker.

Some years ago a friend purchased a new house and decided to have a party to celebrate. I’ve never been a fan of those kinds of gatherings because they are intellectually dishonest. They should not be called ‘housewarming’ parties, but what they actually are, an ‘I bought this house I can’t really afford so I want you to come over and give me free stuff’ party.

So I went to one of these parties and as I walked in the front door the lady of the house who was acting like Martha Stewart on steroids cooed and said, “Oh, you’re just in time for the latest tour.” Yes, they were making every guest take a mandatory tour and apparently I got there just in time for the 2pm shuttle.

I don’t like seeing other people’s homes because I either get jealous or say the wrong thing like, “You guys fit in that tub?” You see what I mean? So I’m on the obligatory tour and we are about three-quarters of the way through when I see my host crinkle her nose and sniff. She takes a step and sniffs again. “Does anyone else smell that?” she asks. Now that she mentions it, I did smell it. It was the unmistakable aroma of dog poop. We started looking around and noticed it was all over the rug. In fact it went down the hall, up the stairs, into the bathroom, through the kitchen and into the baby’s room. It was everywhere.

Suddenly I’m now in an Agatha Christie novel and the homeowner wants to know who tracked the poop into her brand-new house. One by one we are forced to turn over our feet, and one by one every guest revealed that their shoes are clean. I was last to go and I’m guessing you know what my shoes were caked with. I should have just stopped with the apology and not added, “In my defense it WAS your dog who left that little present on the front lawn for me to step in.” They never asked me back.

As bad as this moment was I can actually top it in the “Please don’t ever invite John Gray to our house” category. Once I went skiing with a buddy and met him at his house. He asked me if my skis needed wax and I nodded ‘yes’, so into the house I went with the skis slung over my shoulder like a bag of dirty laundry. Big mistake. Have you ever watched the “Three Stooges” where they go into an expensive store and accidentally knock things off of shelves? Yeah, just call me Moe.

While standing in the man’s living room I made a quick 90-degree turn and the tips of the skis smashed into the china closet and broke a tiny porcelain trinket. I was hoping it was something he and his wife picked up at the Great Escape. Nope. It was a family heirloom passed down from her grandmother. All day I could tell the man’s wife was hoping I’d ski into a tree and then as I lay there bleeding a hawk would fly by with a bottle of hot sauce in his talons and drip it into my wounds.  They never asked me back.

Since one of the themes to this month’s magazine is ‘entertaining’, I thought I’d share these little mishaps to make you smile. In fairness, you should know I’m not just destructive while on the road. One time I had my family over for a little Italian dinner at my house and I was quite psyched to show off my new bread basket. Picture a basket with a tiny stuffed chef, complete with the big hat and glasses holding it. So when you put it on the table and people reach for bread it looks like this kindly old chef is literally holding the basket serving them. Cute, right?

When it came time to serve dinner I noticed the bread was a little cold so I put it, basket and all, into the microwave for a good 45 seconds. As I was bringing things to the table I smelled smoke and then the smoke detector went off. I’d forgotten that the tiny glasses on the fake chef’s face were made of metal so they set off a small lightening storm in my microwave. As I opened the door, I kid you not, his little chef hat was on fire and his face was melting. Bon Appetit?

I don’t entertain for two reasons. One, it forces you to clean and who wants to do that? The second reason is there are not that many people I want in my home. I’m always amazed at the trust people have in throwing a big bash and having 100 virtual strangers traipsing up and down their hallways. No way. Next thing you know they’re opening the medicine cabinet and seeing that you brush your teeth with Dora The Explorer toothpaste or they peek in the laundry room and see you own a pair of sweat pants with the word “Juicy” across the butt. Now, honestly, who wants that information out there?

I’m also afraid I might accidentally kill them. Don’t laugh, not two years ago when my daughter turned 18 we planned a nice Sunday morning brunch. The night before I made spaghetti and meatballs from scratch, which I planned to give everyone the next day. It was winter time when I went shopping for the ingredients so I thought it would be okay if the hamburger sat in my car for a few hours. I mean, if the temperature in the car is 25 degrees that’s the same as storing the meat in a fridge, right? Um…maybe not.

Sunday morning I sampled the sauce and a meatball before meeting everyone for brunch. Just as my family sat in this nice restaurant to eat, I felt a sudden desire to sprint for the bathroom. Do you remember the scene from the movie “Alien” where the monster comes out of the man’s stomach? Yeah, this was worse. My family still speaks with a mixture of horror and laughter at the wailing and retching that echoed from stall number two. I was so loud everyone in the restaurant heard me.

Actually, I think everyone in Rensselaer County heard me. They never asked me back.

As I entertain you with these tales of my entertainment faux pas I am starting to see a pattern. Perhaps that should be the inscription on my tombstone some day. Not “Loving Father” or “Trusted friend”. Just nine simple words that sum up my poisoned-meatball-poop-covered-wrecking-ball-of-an-existence: “Here lies John Gray. They never asked him back.”

That said, if you’re ever having a party I want you to know my schedule looks wide open and I promise to take my shoes off. In closing let me quote that great philosopher Carly Rae Jepsen, “So call me maybe.”

John Gray
John Gray
John Gray is an Emmy-winning journalist and writer. In addition to his 32 years of television experience, John is the author of three children's books and two novels. He is married with three children. He and his lovely wife Courtney have five dogs, three of them are rescues with special needs. They make their quiet home in Rensselaer County.

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