It’s Saturday and we are in the driveway unloading the car after a trip to the liquor store. I am loaded down with two six packs of Blue Moon for Jim and two bottles of wine for me. Connie and Brad, our new neighbors walk by with their teetering gray dog. We stand there politely, shuffling packages and chatting about the dog, the weather, homes.
They seem nice, in a dampened way. I was just about to escape inside when they invited us to a “game party” that evening at their house. My good mood drops into “oh crap” mode. Playing board games with strangers is not my idea of a Saturday night, not now or at any point in the future. I am holding my idea of a Saturday night.
Jim speaks up after an awkward silence and accepts the invitation for 6 o’clock. “It’ll be fun! We’ll get to meet new people!” He elbows me as his voice rises an octave.
Back in the safety of our house I fuel my argument to stay home by turning on A Prairie Home Companion, opening a bottle of wine and sitting on the patio, thinking Jim will join me and blow off the party. To me, playing games at a party is an activity for people who have nothing interesting to say to each other. It is a last resort.
I sigh and glance over the fence at the homes in back of us. There are three houses identical to ours within eyeshot, one of them Connie and Brad’s. We bought into this suburban hell and now we were going to pay. Jim does not join me on the patio.
We arrive at Connie and Brad’s promptly at 6 o’clock, beer and wine in hand. Connie was unwrapping appetizers from Costco. I help put it all on plates and she rewards me with a glass of wine. Others arrive and I try to have the good attitude Jim says I do not have the gene for.
Since Connie and Brad have the same house we do, except in reverse, they give us a confusing tour. We walk around pretending to care and admire the renovation work. It was more small talk, an activity I don’t excel in. Another genetic deficiency, but I make an effort.
“Can you hear us much over here?” I politely ask, noting the spitting distance of their patio to ours. Connie nearly snorts. “I hear you shrieking all the time, Mimi.”
Stunned, my wine glass tips and spills a bit onto the floor. Other guests look down, grateful for something to stare at. Connie turns and saunters into the living room, wine glass swaying.
It is just 7pm. A Prairie Home Companion is over. My mood sinks. I pour more wine since it’s theirs, then stalk after her. I may not like board games, but I win every Scrabble game at my house, so game on girl! I can do this! Just wait until you hear me shriek when I beat your ass in Pictionary.