Gretchen and I had our french press of real coffee a day early today because she would be gone tomorrow morning, dog sitting a Pit Bull named Rose in Germantown at our friends' Jasmin & Mary Ann's upstate house. Before Gretchen left to do that, she touched up my haircut a little in the back. I'd put a towel tightly around my shoulders beforehand, but even so tiny little pinlike hairs managed to find there way around the collar of my shirt, where they subtly aggravated me for much of the afternoon. After several hours of this, I could take no more, and took a nice hot shower and consigned the shirt and teeshirt to the dirty laundry basket. Part of the reason I cut my hair so infrequently (and take such pains to manage clipped hair when I do) is that I have a low threshold for irritation from tiny hair fragments.
Gretchen and I had been invited to a bonfire at our friends Chrissy & Nick's house in Uptown Kingston. Gretchen wouldn't be able to make it, but she suggested I invite Nancy to come in her place. Nancy's usually up for such things, and though she had an unexpected rush graphic design job, she said she'd be able to go.
As you might expect, I would be dressing up as Ahmed Mohamaed, "the Clock Kid" for Halloween. My disguise was simple: I'd cut my hair, and I'd bought a NASA teeshirt. For multiple reasons, I'd decided against applying a John-Boehner-style fake tan to mimic Ahmed's Sudanese complexion. The main feature, of course, would be the clock, which was now making sounds reliably and keeping good time. Unfortunately, due to the peculiarities of its design, I had to power it using two separate power supplies: a small 12 volt battery from a UPS for the audio amplifier and a 5 volt auxillary smartphone battery for everything else. The easiest way to carry all of this (as well as a bottle of wine for the hosts) was with a backpack. The one I'd bought in Guatemala had been soaking in the kiddie pool after being pissed on by a cat in the basement hallway, but now it was dry enough to use and, I thought, rather resembled the sort of backpack a nerdy 14 year old would lug around.
The bonfire invitation had said the event would be dog-friendly, so showed up at Ray & Nancy's place with Ramona and Eleanor, who immediately burst into the house and elicited a series of depressing whimpers from Jack, whom Nancy had just caged for the evening. He's still such a terror that if she doesn't put him in a cage when she goes out, he will destroy the house (or parts of it). It was soon decided that Jack would get to come too, and his evening instantly changed from a boring several hours in a cage to a night of running around with four other dogs in a mysterious new back yard full of things like compost piles and a post-season garden full of massive Jurassic-Parkesque chard plants and kale.
Nick met Nancy and me at the door; his face was made-up to resemble a skull. "Well, you're obviously not Gretchen," he said to Nancy, and I introduced them. We quickly walked through the house, which is a smallish mansion that had been built by a lumber baron during the Gilded Age, back when Kingston was a city to be reckoned with. Tonight it was dark and gloomy, but Gretchen had seen it in the daytime and reported it to be in mint condition.
The backyard was a large fenced-in space dominated by a massive beech tree in its southeast corner. As I "assumed my form" for the evening (connecting my clock to its power supplies), I conversed briefly with a pair gentleman from the north of Italy. Chrissy was wearing a white blanket and had painted her face white so as to resemble some sort of ghoul.
I spent most of the party out by the fire pit, occasionally pushing buttons on my clock to make weird noises or to initiate a countdown-and-"explosion" sequence. Meanwhile, Ramona and Jack were doubling up on short-legged Chongo, nipping at him and wrestling with him as he mostly stayed on his back. It seemed a bit much, but Chongo was delighted. Later, a young couple from several streets over showed up with a lanky Clarence-colored pointy-eared mutt, and even more doggy hijinks ensued. Meanwhile, Eleanor was having trouble finding a soft place to lie that was sufficiently warm. She tried climbing into a chair, but there was something wrong with it and she was soon forced to abandon it.
A little past 10:00pm, Nancy drove to the bus station to pick up Sarah the Vegan, who had flown in today from a two-week Rhine-Valley vacation from Amsterdam to Switzerland. Despite jet lag and travel exhaustion, she managed to hang out at the party for additional half hour or so.
Once I'd returned to the house, I did what I always do when Gretchen is away, smoking lots of pot, watching my Friday night television, and adding considerably to the baseload of drinking I'd done at the bonfire.
Me in my Ahmed Mohamed disguise this afternoon in the laboratory with Celeste the Cat.