Taken to Heart
Last night I was Teddy's PLATONIC date to a Valentine's party hosted by a girl he went to summer school with ten years ago. He's seen her only once since then--about a year and a half ago--but somehow managed to get himself invited to this party, for which a date was mandatory. The evite specificed we were supposed to pick out saucy outfits for each other too, but, um, no.
The venue was a cute little three-bed/two-bath house in suburban San Jose with a two-car garage, a nice-sized backyard, and a well-mown lawn with a six-foot-tall glowing inflatable bear by the front door. We were a little scared. And what better excuse to turn tail and burn rubber than noticing that although we were a fashionable and safe thirty minutes late, there were no cars parked on the street and only one in the driveway and, what the heck?, the lights are all out (except, of course, for the ones in the belly of the giant love bear)? We couldn't bear (ha!) the possibility that we'd gotten the day wrong and were all dolled up in our kitten heels and pink pants with the sailor-style buttons up the hips for nothing, so we decided to kill some time and scope out the place again later.
It is at this point that we drove down the street and did the one thing that can turn a good date into a great date (a PLATONIC date, that is): we ordered stuff off the dollar menu at Mickey D's. O sweet french fries, food of the gods in charge of all that is good and right with the world, how I cherish thee. And (and!) Teddy paid for them. The way to my heart, boys...My PLATONIC heart anyway.
We intended to stall for thirty minutes or so but ended up blowing close to two hours sitting in a plastic booth talking about nothing and everything. Had the night ended there, I could have called the evening a success, but it didn't end there, and that was good too. Back at the house we were greeted by rooms full of strangers, and hearts adorning every surface--heart post-it notes all over the walls, heart mylar balloons swaying in the corners, heart crackers for the phyllo-wrapped brie (the best thing after french fries, I tell you), heart-beaded candle holders, heart pens, heart spinach appetizers, cupcakes decorated with hearts, and a big heart made out of red twinkly lights hanging on the front of the bar. Three steps inside the door we were each given half of a paper heart and instructed to find the person whose half a heart was our match, and by the end of the night, we'd made ten new friends, been invited to a housewarming party, kissed and been kissed (when was the last time you played kissing tag?), and sampled Love Potions #8, #9, and #10 (champagne + a dash of cassis; strawberry daquari with Cool Whip; cranberry juice + vodka + triple sec). Sometime between the chai-tini and the home blend of peppermint and licorice root tea, the whole party came together for a boisterous "Bohemian Rhapsody," everyone turned Munchkin on the helium from the balloons, and Teddy and I got a dozen red roses in a nice vase for winning the newlywed game, getting every question right, how about that!
There was dancing and dipping and two dozen darling cocktail dresses and strawberries with chocolate fondue, and I now have new role models for how to be a great host: Ann and her husband Bobby were friendly and hospitable and just drunk enough and neither of them acted like the Party Police--you know, the one who walks around all serious-like straightening picture frames and putting throw pillows back on the couch at a perfect 45 degree angle and vulturing around you as you finish your drink so that the second you set your glass down empty she can spirit it away to the dishwasher. Those people make me tense.
So that was my night. Who'd have thought I'd get a dozen red roses for Valentine's Day this year?
Post script: Whenever I write about things like this and get so excited about every little detail and every single person I meet, I feel a little dumb for not being one of the cool, disaffected types who has been everywhere and seen everything and is delighted by nothing. But, you know, even though it's uncool, a part of me hopes I never ceased to be impressed by little things. It's more fun when everything is extraordinary, don't you think?, even if I come off sounding like an A-1 lame-o on my blog.