two party fourth of July
Friday, July 4 2014
At a somewhat awkward moment this morning, a young man arrived to look at our kayaks. He was responding to an ad placed on Craigslist and had said he would definitely buy the kayaks at the arranged price of something like $750. He looked to be a real outdoorsy type, wearing the same Keens shoes that I just bought and he had an oval sticker on the back of his truck reading "IRL," which is what internet-savvy people call reality. (In other words, he's been to reality, but he's conversant in teh interwebs too.) Despite continued rain, he strapped the kayaks to his roof and paid us in a big fat wad of cash. We won't be needing to visit a bank machine any time soon. Meanwhile, one of our two brand new collapsible Oru Kayaks sits in the middle of the floor near the front door. I'd managed to pop it all together with the only screw-up being that the seat was facing backwards. (I don't carry around in my head the definitions for "bow" and "stern.") With that fixed, it proved to be a very attractive (if somewhat angular) vessel.
Due to the rain, we decided to have coffee this morning. Gretchen had originally requested decaf, but I cunningly substituted in caffeinated, something she didn't notice until hours later when she couldn't help but clench her jaw.
This evening, Gretchen and I drove out to that compound near Palinville, where a family has been gradually building a Shangri-La of vegan amusements. Gretchen is friends with the women who own a vegan shoe business in Manhattan, and it's their parents who own the compound. Since the last time we'd been there, they'd added a tennis court and a deck for a small treehouse. Today's focus, though, was on the swimming pool. There were about 20 people and maybe five dogs when we arrived, and within a minute, Ramona had gotten into a fight with one of the other dogs and then 12-year-old Eleanor jumped in to defend her sister. Happily, there were four or five strong men on the scene to immediately break it up. Ramona quickly forgot the whole thing, but Eleanor ran off to cower somewhere, knowing somehow that her instinct to defend her "sister" had caused her to do a bad thing.
Because of the rain, our dogs hadn't had a walk yet today, and perhaps that pent up energy was part of the problem. So I took them on a stroll through the nearby forest. Someone had marked the trails with sticks on either side just like on the Stick Trail.
Back at the pool party, most of the other combatants in the last canine skirmish had been relocated elsewhere, and our dogs were relatively well-behaved. Someone had brought a growler of Ithaca Flower Power, and that became my beverage of choice for the rest of the afternoon. Eva and Sandor were there, and eventually she and some others decided to go to the treehouse. The guy who actually built it was there, and a group of us used it the way adults always use places seemingly intended for children: we smoked wacky tobacky. The guy who built the treehouse kept telling us all the plans for it. Though right now it was little more than a platform about 12 feet off the ground wrapping around two Sugar Maple trunks, the goal was for it to one day have a slide, a roofed structure, and additional tiers and even an elevator. But it had exceeded its budget, and all that would have to wait. The treehouse builder then indicated all the other structures being lavished with money at the compound, particularly the fancy new tennis courts. It was an easy riff to carry to extremes, and so later when I referred to the treehouse's low level in the list of budget priorities, I spoke of an "obelisk" the family had erected in front of the compound.
After smoking that pot, I wasn't a very good conversationalist. Lord knows I tried, but I found it difficult to articulately string sentences together. Still, I felt like I could see the social fabric for what it was, and interacting with it didn't stress me out in the usual ways that it does.
There was that woman there whom I'd drunkenly promised that I would adopt some cats she'd wanted to trap (a promise I'd had to renege on when I was sober). She was being cold to Gretchen and me, so I decided, fuck it, I would just ignore her coldness and start talking to her. And everything was fine after that.
Somehow there managed to be two more small fights between our dogs and the other dogs present, so I spent a fair amount of time trying to mend canine fences and get Ramona, for example, to be friends with a little male dog with a small-dog complex. (They played along with me, but I had a feeling that any repair in their relationship was cosmetic and fragile.)
Interestingly (and crucially), Ramona was much more tolerant of the insults and taunts made by the several human children present. She spent a surprisinglu long time on the edge of the pool while the kids teased her with a tennis ball that they'd occasionally slip up and let go, allowing her to get it. (They did this much less often than someone who genuinely likes and respects dogs would do.) Ramona loves kids and loves to play with them, and evidently it doesn't matter for her much if she doesn't get her way when there's a chance to play with human children.
I was having fun, so when Gretchen tried to organize for us to go (we had another party to go to), I rebelled and went down to the fire pit, which (despite its being July 4th) was kind of a nice thing; the evening was unseasonably crisp. Unfortunately, nobody I knew was down there, just the parents and brother-in-law of Erica, the person in the family whom Gretchen knows. Somehow the parents have great wealth, but they're rather rude as people, and her mother started quizzing me about who I knew at the party as if I was some sort of impostor. So I said "I'm with Gretchen, and she knows one of the shoe people." I didn't really want to give them the satisfaction of saying anyone's name, and besides, I'm terrible with the names of people I don't know extremely well, and I just couldn't access it. They didn't seem especially satisfied with my answer, but Gretchen and I were in the process of leaving anyway.
Our next destination was the residence of a nationally-famous yoga instructor in Lake Hill whom Gretchen knows through the animal rights movement. Today was her birthday, and Gretchen had baked her a surprise birthday cake (she'd done some experimental things in preparing it and had nearly failed, but in the end it was gorgeous). While Gretchen was doing her usual networking, I spent most of the party conspiring with a friend (whom I shall not name) to track down marijuana. I'd been warned that the food would be stuff like spirulina and millet, but there was actually some fairly-good pasta there, as well as wine. Everything was vegan, which is always a good thing at parties that I attend. At some point in the evening, we all went to the main room and chanted about Krisna, which was a little hard to take seriously. The average person at this party, it would be safe to say, was much less acquainted with irony than most of the people in my circle of friends. You could definitely see it in their sartorial choices. Still, it was a much better party than I'd expected.
Happily, I never heard a single firecracker all day. (Eleanor and Ramona didn't either; they had to spend that second party cooped up in our car.)
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