I should have known that this was not going to be one of my regular Friday nights as earlier in the day my Dad had called me to come over under the guise that he needed my help on one of his 'mysterious projects'. On a normal Friday I would never even entertain the thought of going over to my parents, I would be down at the pub after a hard work week, pounding the drinks into me. Today was different though, not one of my friends seemed either Neither interested nor motivated to join me, so with absolutely nothing else to do, I reluctantly agreed to Dad's request.
As I entered the living room, I was greeted by a room full of people yelling "Surprise" at the top of their lungs. I immediately looked up & noticed a ugly banner on the wall that had a huge hideous frog on it saying "Congratulations - I'm so HOPPY for you".
Now I don't want to sound like an ingrate here but the minute I saw that banner it put me in a foul mood for the entire evening. Not because of the party but rather, just the idea that a frog would make such a ridiculous statement annoyed me. I mean if frogs could in fact talk, I am sure they would come up with something cleverer then a foolish 'play on words' statement incorporating the act of hopping.
I tried to put on a brave face and forget about this 'banner' dismissing my reaction as perhaps just being a bit too critical of things. I mean after all, it was just a banner.
I slowly walked around the room and noticed all my friends were present. Apparently Mom had contacted my best friend John and he had in turn, got a hold of everyone else such as Damian, Samantha & Kevin, Cathy, Maria and Rich. The whole gang was here which explained earlier why all of them seemed disinterested in going to the pub this evening and all had some lame excuses as to why they couldn't make it.
I was pretty happy with things and as Mom came over to congratulate me on the job and give me a hug, I suddenly noticed something out of the corner of my eye that meant trouble. There standing around the BBQ in the back yard along with my father was all of his 'crazy old men friends'. Joe Barnes, Old Pete and Donnie. All undoubtedly somewhat respectable 'in their day' however now are all retired and when together, turn into a bunch of rowdy and politically incorrect buffoons. Especially the times when booze is involved and this was definitely one of those times.
Mom also had some of her friends over as well which undoubtedly would keep the men in "check" however I knew that mixing my friends and Dad's friends together in the same room was not a good idea. It would be like oil and water. I tried not to let this situation stress me too much and I then questioned Mom on this.
"Hey Mom" I asked rather non-chalantly. "You have a rather odd crowd here for my party. How did you come up with your guest list?"
"It was your fathers idea, dear." Mom replied. "He was having a few friends over tonight & suggested we have a little celebration for you at the same time. He also wanted to get rid of all the steaks and ribs in the freezer downstairs so as he can make room for a dozen or so frozen turkeys he just bought for next too nothing."
I knew it! I thought to myself. Dad did have a 'secret agenda' this evening, which was emptying his freezer because he found cheap poultry. Normally he would never serve up this much meat and food without presenting everyone with an invoice at the end of the night! Oh well, I guess I should be grateful as it's the thought that counts. (or so I am told!)
"Well that is nice for you guys to do this for me." I responded. "But I must say that I am a little concerned mixing my friends and Dad's friends together. They are very different groups of people & may not really get along."
"It will all be fine son." Mom replied, in her usual calming manner. "I will be watching those old boys - don't you worry!"
But worrying about things, I did. I mean it is like two complete and separate planets colliding with each other in space. Nothing good could result from my friendship circle coming in contact with my father's circle. These are two entirely different and independent circles and I am sure if both circles overlap for any period of time, only disaster will result. Even if a great BBQ meal & lots of free booze was being served!
I tried not to think about things too much as I nervously grabbed a Guinness and wandered around attempting to make small talk with everyone. All the time however I could feel the eyes of that hideous frog on the banner following me around the room. It was a very strange and unsettling feeling.
After about an hour of mingling and 4 more Guinness, I began to calm down and relax a little. I obviously had been worrying about nothing. Things seemed to be going great. No problems or confrontations whatsoever. Everyone was laughing, eating and drinking.
I then noticed my detestable sister and her husband Doug (aka, the dullest man in the world) boring my friend Damian. It was only 8PM and the poor guy had yawned about 4 times in the last minute as I heard Doug explaining the benefits of choosing copper piping over plastic piping for all his future plumbing requirements. Doug of course is a plumber and believes that everyone in the world is as interested in plugged toilets and other plumbing related adventures to the same abnormal frightening degree as he is. I have honestly yet to meet anyone who does not yawn in his presence, well anyone aside from my slow-witted sister.
I thought I would save Damian from any further boredom so I wandered over and interrupted them by casually asked Sis who was watching her kids?
"Mrs. Hershel is there." Sis snarled at me. "Or perhaps you would know her better as that 'one-eyed old lesbian' as you so sweetly taught young Mikey to call her. It took me weeks to make him stop referring to her as that! I really don't know what's the matter with you sometimes, saying that in front of a young child!"
Sis then turned around and began angrily explaining the story (Read that story Here) to Damian who was already trying not to laugh out loud in her face.
As I then walked into the dining room, Dad's pal Joe Barnes, our neighbour and a retired RCMP officer, was talking to a group of folks who included my buddy John (who is a cop with the city police). Joe Barnes was preaching how police methods have changed from in his day and he considered all the police these days as soft.
"These days they all have big old bellies and are flabby as Hell" He bitterly remarked aloud. "Not like our day where ya stayed in shape or they showed ya the door."
I imagined seeing John and the 75 year old Joe Barnes getting in some kind of freakish wrestling match over this on my mothers dining room table and figured I better go grab another drink as my heart rate began rising. No good could result from this conversation.
Old Pete was wandering around and munching on a huge BBQ rib. He then began talking to my friends Samantha and Cathy (who is an American citizen and also black). After finding out Cathy was originally from Chicago, Pete started discussing the US election with her & soliciting her opinions.
I feared that Pete, who is notoriously politically incorrect, would offend poor Cathy by saying something totally inappropriate. My heart began pounding again and I quickly grabbed another drink to calm down. I panicked for no reason though as Pete's question were actually surprisingly rather normal.
"I am curious" Pete began. "How did your people down there like the results of the election. On TV, It looked like the whole country is now backing Obama."
"Yes" Cathy responded innocently. "Mr. Obama has got the hopes and confidence of all the American people. All of us Americans are looking forward to the start of his term in office."
And then it happened. All the worrying about his political incorrectness was well founded as he foolish and ignorantly responded.
"No, No" Pete replied. "I didn't mean you as an American citizen but rather, you as a negro. Did you all like the results."
My jaw dropped open & almost it the floor. I was about to quickly jump into the conversation and correct the ignorant & insensitive statement but Cathy just calmly responded to him.
"Well the black community is mostly supportive of Mr. Obama. Of course no where near 100%, but he did make history and we are quite proud. He has brought hope back to all."
"Yes, I agree with you on that young lady." Pete responded. "It's nice to get a opinion from someone first hand and not just off the television."
With that statement old Pete wandered off to get another rib for himself, and grabbed a beer on the way over to the kitchen.
I just needed a couple moments to relax and get away from the tension, conversations and of course, that hideous frog.
Dad and his annoying buddy Donnie were down there playing pool with the TV blaring. I slumped into the old armchair in the corner and took a few big swigs of rum, closing my eyes and trying to relax.
"Hey Boy!" Dad suddenly yelled over to me. "I am just about to beat old Donnie here for couple bucks and after that, I will do the same with you if you'd like. HAHA"
"Sure Dad" I replied. "Just call me when you're ready."
That was the last thing I remembered, I closed my eyes and everything went blank as I drifted into a deep, deep sleep.
I was abruptly awoken the next morning by my father shaking me awake and yelling "Wake up boy, there is steak and eggs on the table for your breakfast."
I slowly adjusted my eyes and squinting at my watch it showed as 10:30 AM. I must have been asleep for hours and stayed the whole night in the chair.
When I finally dragged my bones into the kitchen, Dad was sitting there with his coffee and newspaper. He looked up at me and gestured to the plate on the table.
"You sure aren't much of a drinker anymore." He commented, sneering his nose at me. "Fell asleep in that old armchair around 9:30 and was dead to the world. All your friends came downstairs and I relieved them of some of their excess cash, by whipping them in pool. Made quite a tidy profit for myself last night."
"Everyone left around 1AM, except for you and old Donnie. Donnie fell asleep on the couch but even he lasted longer than you did and he is on heavy medication for his bad hip. HAHA!"
After finishing my breakfast while being continually berated by my father for falling asleep during his party, I headed home to my apartment to clean up and obviously call all of my friends to apologize for the horrible night I am sure they had being subjected to.
I figured the best thing to do was invite the gang out Saturday night to our regular pub and pay for the whole evening. It is rare that everyone is actually not working on a Saturday night so it would be a good opportunity for me to apologize to the gang.
When I arrived at the pub, everyone was already there and well into their first drinks. I sat myself down and when Donna our waitress came over, I handed her my credit card to her & announced to the table that "everything is on me tonight, just to make up for your horrible evening last night."
Everyone immediately yelled out to Donna to bring them more drinks (it was quite odd that they all were drinking doubles tonight but I never thought much about it at the time).
They all seemed genuinely surprised and delighted at my offer. I then made a quick apology explaining that my father and his friends are rather old and their opinions are not exactly too modern. Sorry if anyone was offended.
"No one was offended at all last night. It was a blast" Kevin exclaimed.
"HAHA" Cathy responded. "I thought it was a really fun evening and all of your Dad's friends were great. Especially that Pete. He's a real character, that guy."
"But, But" I stumbled over my words. "Last I heard, he was asking you about 'Negroes'. I was going to slap him for his rudeness."
"That's not offensive." Cathy responded. "My Grandfather uses that term all the time. They are both from an era when that wording was used all the time. No offence was meant by Pete, nor taken."
"But John" I asked, still somewhat bewildered. "What about Joe Barnes calling all cops these days 'flabby and out of shape'. That must have really gotten to you?"
"Nah" John replied. "The old guy grabbed me aside later and said that his father was a cop as well and use to say the same thing to him about his generation. He claimed I'd be doing the same once I'm retired. The next generation is never as smart enough or as good as the last."
"Yeah it was a great evening." Damian interjected. "Before we left your father gave all of us doggy bags with those huge 'Flintstone' sized ribs and steaks to take home. I've got meals for the next week. I guess you would have known all this had you decided not to have your nap so early!"
Donna then interrupted our conversation as she placed down the round of drinks everyone had just ordered. As she turned away John quickly yelled "Donna bring two more rounds quickly and then just keep them coming."
"So" I began, slowly choosing my words. "If you all had a great time and were not offended or angry with me, why am I paying for all of your drinks tonight?"
"It's obvious" John replied laughingly. "It was your idea, you offered. We aren't stupid and going to insult you by turning down this very generous 'once in a lifetime' offer."
With everyone at the table laughing at me, I quickly jumped to my feet searching for Donna our waitress and more importantly, to salvage what was left of my poor abused credit card.