Party On... Preferably Without Me

I'm in the minority here I'm sure, but I find parties to be such a hassle. I don't mean just making parties. I think it's a hassle attending them. One reason is because everybody has their own party standards and ways of doing things. My husband and I went to a party in a park a few months ago. The invitation said 12pm for a barbecue. We parked at 11:45. We didn't know where this park even was, so we had headed out a little early in case we got lost and to give us time to find the correct picnic shelter. We were all over this park... twice. We're hiking. We're mountain climbing. We're scaling walls. We're cross-country skiing. We looked like the torn down, low-budget version of Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest. I had horrifying flashes that in another minute I'd be schlepping this giant gift bag up Mount Rushmore.

Luckily, my Girl Scout survival skills kicked in. (See? it's not just a cookie cult... Although the only survival skill I remember from my stint in the Girl Scouts was to make sure I quit well before high school. I had no interest in traveling the entire uniform-wearing spectrum from cute to acceptable to absurd.)

I enlisted all of my senses to try to find this party. I couldn't hear anything. No loud music. No people gathering. Nothing sizzling on a grill. Only birds, insects, a gentle breeze in the woods. Nature. I didn't come here for nature. I came here for potato salad. I couldn't see anybody. I couldn't smell anything. I tried to follow the breeze to catch the gentle scent of barbecuing wafting through the leaves and ricocheting off the trees.  Nothing.

We finally found the shelter. Yep this was it. Shelter #2 across from the open field. Here we are. We're here. It's 12:20. Sorry we're late. Oh, is that parking lot right there where we were supposed to park? Hello? Is anybody home? We're hungry. We're tired. We're hungry still. I'd wished I'd brought them food. At this juncture, I would've reached into the gift bag, eaten their present, thrown the bag away and told them I forgot it in the car.

That's assuming someone would eventually show up. So where is everybody? Let me consult the invitation again. There it is: 12:00. Could the "2" maybe be a "4"? Definitely not. And the people are from Chicago and not in the Army, so I can't see why they'd be writing in military time.

Nothing. No people. No presents. No food. No music. No decorations. This couldn't be. I even touched the barbecue. Ice cold. Not a sound of anybody approaching in the distance. Nothing. Crickets... (Real crickets. It was a park.)

I've never heard of people who were making the party arriving fashionably late. The only hint that there was maybe going to even be a party anytime that day, was these two sweaty, disheveled, out of breath fools standing there with this dusty-ass gift bag.

Oh I get it. Wow, that's brilliant. Yeah, that must be it. We were invited to this guy's birthday party, but it's all a charade. It's, get this, really a surprise party for us... in July... Even though our anniversary's in October and our birthdays are in February. It's the only thing that makes sense... even though, let's face it, that made no sense. Even still, I crouched down and peeked under the picnic table benches. Not that I remembered any of these people being less than a foot wide.

Now it's 12:42. As we're debating our next move, "Do you feel like Denny's or IHOP?", we hear people on the horizon.  Here they come at a leisurely pace. With coolers and folded folding tables, paper tablecloths and balloons and streamers. What? You show up 42 minutes late and now you're going to unpack two aisles of Party City and start decorating?

Please just give me my potato salad and my goody bag and let me head back over the mountain so I can get to my car before sundown.