Every year, my dad and stepmom do this 4th of July weekend pig-picking barbeque sort of shindig. Well, since they got married, at any rate (which was also on the 5th of July six years ago).
Kevin and I don’t always go.
Last year we didn’t go because Kevin had to work – either the day before or the day after, I can’t remember. I know we went and did fiireworks with the Brookses on the actual 4th, but I’m not entirely sure when that was in relationship to my dad’s party.
The year before we didn’t go because I was still in a cast from having broken my ankle in five places, and my step-mom’s house/yard isn’t what you’d call wheelchair accessible.
We went three years ago. I’m always semi-dubious about the whole thing for many reasons, and they remain the same reasons now as they did then. First off, most of the people that come to this shindig are not in Kevin’s and my age group.
That’s not surprising, since they’re my father’s friends and not mine. Sometimes they get a few people who are the children of my dad’s friends, but for some reason they seem to be much younger than Kevin and I. For instance, Dee’s sister Lori and her husband Arthur have two sons (my step-cousins, and I actually like them, when Lori will hush up long enough to let them talk) who are like 18 and 21. Or Jim Breeden’s daughter Heather and her fiancee Adam, who are in their early 20′s. This year we had another couple who was actually around Kevin’s and my age – a new employee at dad’s work, Jimmie and his wife, who’s name I’ve forgotten. I thought she was quite sensible as she spent nearly as much time inside the house where it was air-conditioned and clean as I did.
The second concern I usually have is that almost none of the people at my dad’s shindig have anything in common with Kevin or I. Of course, this would be one of the reasons I moved as far away from Louisa as I could get and still be in the same state. I might have gone further, except I ended up going to college in-state and discovered that Williamsburg was far enough away for me to find people I did have things in common with.
The third concern is my inherent geek-factor. I hate outside. Outside would be much nicer if we put a roof over it, sprayed it for bugs, and air-conditioned it. My dream house is on a space station where the temperature is the same every day and it never rains. I hate weather, I hate bugs, I hate dirt, and while I like flowers, they make me sneeze.
In any case, I don’t always look forward to these things with remarkable amounts of enthusiasm. But I do like seeing my dad and step-mom. And I’ve known some of dad’s friends for most of my life, so it’s nice to see them, too. And there was the whole show-offy that I’m pregnant now (and I look it). Looking pregnant is actually more fun… people are very solicitous – which sort of sucks because it’s really in the first trimester when you don’t look pregnant, that you’re really all tired and sick and worn out and feeling punky.
We rented a car to go up there because our car doesn’t have AC and honestly, the idea of driving 2 and a half hours without AC makes me want to throw up without actually having to do it. But with AC, the drive itself was pretty good, aside from the occassional wincey thing that I’m known to do ever since I was in my car accident (which drives Kevin absolutely bonkers and generally makes him drive more recklessly for short periods of time).
We arrived somewhere around noonish. There weren’t many early arrivals yet. Just Ralph Jacobs (one of the contractors who has worked with my dad for a long, long time) and Jim Breeden (who has got to be one of the more insane individuals that I’ve ever met). Kevin and I pulled up chairs and mostly listening to Jim being a fruitbat. He’d caught a little lizard near my dad’s pond (puddle?) and was entertaining himself (and us) by popping said lizard into his mouth, holding it for a minute, then letting it jump out again. Poor lizard’s going to need years and years of therapy to get over that trauma.
More people arrived as the afternoon wore on (and got progressively hotter and more humid – I had to take refuge inside the house every hour or so for about 20 minute just so I didn’t get ill.) Steve Tipsword (Tippie) arrived with a small keg of beer and no hair. Somewhere in the last year or so, several of the guys my dad works with decided that the shaved head look was in, including Tip and Jim. I personally do not find it all that attractive, but whatever works for them, I reckon.
Jim can be annoying when he’s got no one to bounce off of, just because he’s so hyper, but Tippie meets him bounce for bounce and absurdity for absurdity. Watching the two of them together puts me in mind of a middle-aged, slightly rednecked version of Matt and Braz (described by Liz as being “the two hands of Loki”). I spent quite a bit of time being amused, listening to them.
Dad always gets a whole pig (from an appropriately named shop called “Miss Piggy’s”) to grill on this enormous lidded gas-grill. He puts the pig on about 8 in the morning, turns it about 1pm in the afternoon and dumps bbq sauce all over him. The pig then grills for another 4 hours or so, and then he’s ready for “picking”. Pork barbeque is pretty good, although watching my dad mangle this already split up the middle pig is somewhat gross. I thought Kevin was going to lose his apetite completely, but he managed to get it back. We are very city folk, I think… we like good meat, but we’re not too partial to watching it come off the animal.
But we went down to talk with dad while he was carving up the pig – mostly because I didn’t want to stand in line for food for half an hour and because dad looked sort of lonely down there all by himself. (well, and because if I know which pan the tenderloin is in, that’s my favorite bit, and I helped carry the pans up there, so I was able to get my pick of pieces). Then we ate.
I had some bbq and some lobster claws and tail bits (Ralph almost always brings lobster and I shudder to think how expensive that must be to bring enough lobster to feed between 40-60 people) and some potato salad and maccaroni salad and just a midge of baked beans and a roll and some other odds and ends. I’d dosed up my insulin a little bit so that I could eat without too much overloading of my sugars. I still gave dessert a miss for a while, just to be safe.
After dinner, we went back inside for a while. I was very overheated and somewhat buggy. Dinner attracted these huge clouds of small biting black bugs that I’d personally love to see exterminated from the planet. ICK. A lot of people took the opportunity to chat with me while I was indoors, both to talk and to keep cool, I think. Especially since where I was sitting, the best place to talk to me was standing directly over one of the AC vents.
Finally, the weather cooled off some as it started to get dark, and we went back outside to be social, watch Tip and Jim beat the pants off of Adam (and someone else who’s name I never caught) at bridge, and await the fireworks.
Dad gets fireworks in Pennsylvania every year, although I understand that this batch of fireworks was actually last year’s batch, since last year there was bad drought and they didn’t dare let the fireworks off for fear of burning up all the woods and fields nearby.
“Yes, Mr. Breeden?”
“Aren’t fireworks like that illegal in the state of Virginia, Mr. Tipsword?”
“You know, Mr. Breeden, I think you are correct.”
James (my step-cousin) and Adam were set in charge of igniting said fireworks (which they did with a hand-held blowtorch, but hey, it’s their fingers, not mine)…
“Yes, Mr. Tipsword?”
“Does it seem to you that the fireworks are taking longer to get set up than in previous years when we did it?”
“Yes, Mr. Tipsword, I believe you are correct.”
“Why thank you, Mr. Breeden.”
But the fireworks were actually quite good for being non-professional, and we had the added bonus of being able to also see the next-door neighbor’s fireworks. (Keep in mind that the next-door neighbor was probably almost a half-mile away).
Finally, after the fireworks were over, we went home. Tip tried to convince us to stay, but honestly, I don’t think that would have been a good idea. Dad’s guest bed is uncomfortable enough under normal conditions – I didn’t want to try it while pregnant. (I’m spoiled by our very very nice bed at home, I think.)
All in all, I think it was a good weekend. Although I’m still bug-bit and somewhat tired.