Sunday, January 4, 2009

Accomplishment #23: Throw a House Party (#15)

Every year, without fail, my mom threw a birthday party for me. We would send out a bunch of invitations to all my little friends, and I would don my party dress and in later years my bathing suit, and wait for my guests to arrive so we could play games and eat hot dogs and cake and I would get PRESENTS. I loved every second of it. (Especially the presents.)

My fifth birthday
I scored an AWESOME pinwheel.

But I was definitely not the kind of teenager who threw keggers when my parents went out of town. For one thing, my parents didn't go out of town that much, which definitely would have limited any sort of kegger or party opportunity. Secondly, if and when they did go out of town, they sure didn't leave me alone, leaving me instead with my sister who would be only too happy to tell my parents how horrible I was. (Some things never change.) And thirdly, jocks and cheerleaders and all the popular kids went to keggers or parties like in "16 Candles." Me? My mom was still throwing me a birthday party every year until I was 19, where every snickering new wave teenager in the Tri-County area would show up for hot dogs and Cokes and give my dad coronaries. One time he corralled a bunch of spiky haired kids, who had sneaked down the street to smoke cloves, back into the driveway from down the street in his Cadillac while brandishing a bullwhip out the window. Ohmigod, I was, like, soooo embarrassed! Gaaaaawwwd, Daaaad! By the time I was 17 my mom sent him to the movies and told him not to come back until late. While the party itself was uncool, everyone always showed up. (Even though my dad was sorta scary.)

One time, however, in my sophomore year in high school, my parents had friends over for cocktails, and then went out somewhere fancy for dinner. So I called my friends and told them to come over on their way to a party to which I hadn't been invited (the girl and I were in a fight so I was the only one not invited -- ohhh, high school drama). When they got there, we sat in the living room and finished the leftover half-fingers of liquor in my dad's signature highball glasses, and I pretended I was hosting the most glamorous party in town. And then they convinced me to crash the icky girl's party, after we bouffanted my hair and put on about 18 pounds of black eyeliner, all crooked, thanks to laughing and the watery cocktails. And as we drove to the party, I discovered that they had done a weird scavenger hunt in my house; Bob and Aaron had stolen the Duraflame log from the fireplace, Laura had stolen a weird Buddha statue a neighbor had given my mother, and Traecy had STOLEN MY GOLDFISH. She had scooped it into a plastic baggie and as she wagged it in my face in the car, I nearly fainted. I had had that fish since I won it by throwing ping pong balls at it at the fifth grade carnival, and was really very attached.

So we made an appearance at this stupid party where I wasn't invited, my hair in a ratty bouffant while holding a log and my goldfish. When I got home, my parents were there, waiting for me,and somehow they KNEW. (Maybe they measured all the glasses before they left.) "DID YOU HAVE A PARTY?" my father said. "Ummm, not exactly," I said, but I had to explain the log and the goldfish. If you think it sounds weird and confusing on here, imagine how it sounded as I tried to explain it to my parents, who did not find it funny AT ALL. I was tooootally grounded. But you will be happy to know that the fish returned safe and sound, and lived for TWELVE YEARS.

But despite being grounded and making a fool out of myself, that night, along with all of my past birthday soirees and watching my parents host packed to the rafters St. Patrick's Day parties that people talked about for years afterward, gave me an insatiable taste for throwing parties. I couldn't wait turn eighteen and be Holly Golightly, throwing the wildest and most glamorous cocktail parties in town. I found old invitations in thrift stores, buying them so that I could send them out someday. I dreamed of having my own tiara, and graciously serving guests martinis and canapes. I couldn't wait to move out of my parents' house into a glamorous apartment, where I would listen to cha cha music while wearing spike heels and false eyelashes.

But, of course, life didn't quite turn out like that. For one thing, I lived in a dorm, and subsequently un-glamorous apartments. Sure, there were parties (and one even involved a daring escape on the fire escape, the police and a restraining order, but that's another story for another day), but they were hardly the martini and canape type. It was more like beer and quarters and party tricks like hanging spoons from noses. No one wanted to dress up or listen to cha cha music, either. Sigh. I was quite discouraged. Where was my glamorous life, and not the kind Sheila E was talking about?

But I persevered, and the parties did keep getting better and better. Maybe it was because I finally got a tiara, or maybe because I realized that as hostess I could wear whatever I wanted. (Which, as it turned out, was NOT spike heels. Ouch.) Maybe I discovered that "Spinach-Dip-In-A-Bread-Bowl," no matter how delicious, was deemed as tacky by my stylish gay friend who Knew Such Things, and that freed me from mundane party fare. (But I LIKE spinach-dip-in-a-bread-bowl. I hereby decree its comeback.) Or maybe we just got older and could appreciate things like Cha Cha and martinis while hanging spoons from our noses. But I know it's mostly because I have lots of really interesting friends who make a party fabulous.

In any case, and not to brag -- I throw a good party. I've had parties where there have been 100 people crammed into my apartment, and some where there's been just a handful of people. I've had themed parties (the Beatnik Party and the Cinco de Mayo Party of 95 being the very best), and then parties for no reason at all, but they always end with dancing and a big mess and stories for days. And from what I've heard, they've been good, or I have very polite friends.

But I must admit -- sometimes I hate having parties, specifically the night and morning before and the morning after. Cleaning up before and after a ton of people is not my idea of a favorite activity, and I wish I had powers like Samantha Stevens. Now I worry about bothering the neighbors, when before I didn't really care too much. (Our next door neighbors already hate us. Perhaps it's the garden gnomes.) I have found that one of the best solutions is to throw a party in a bar or somewhere so you don't have to clean up and spend a ton of money for food, but there's something about house parties that is more fun and personal and random drunk guys won't come in and hit on your friends and creep them out. (Okay, well, sometimes that does happen.) But during the party I realize how worth it it all is, surrounded by friends and warmth and lots of booze.

So I have a lot of experience in the whole "Throw a House Party" genre, but since this was an Accomplishment I had to accomplish for the blog, what better excuse to throw one? With that in mind, I joined forces with another Hostess with the Mostess, Jennye, and we threw another Mid Century Supper Club Potluck party.

Stolen from Jennye -- More Mid Century Winter Supper Club

Now you may remember Jennye from such blog posts as join a club and supper club invite. She is a hostess extraordinaire. She always has good plates and napkins and makes Martha Stewart look like a not very good thing. Jennye should do it professionally, I swear.

We decided that this wasn't going to be the regular potluck -- NO. We were going to stick with the theme (it works, I swear), but the Holiday theme was going to make it bigger and better than ever. This was going to be an EXTRAVAGANZA! The house was already decorated for Christmas, festooned with Knee-Hugger elves and spinning tree, so we didn't have to worry about that.

Mid Century Supper Club Potluck December 14th, 2008
The stockings were hung by the chimney with not too much care

And we had TWINKLES:
Mid Century Supper Club Potluck December 14th, 2008
Twinkles is my new best friend.

We were also going to switch things up a bit, like having it on a Sunday afternoon so there wouldn't be the usual 2 am lurching off to bed (which worked really well, BTW -- I highly recommend it) and I cut back on buying too much stuff, so I didn't freak about money being tight. And the best thing we did was ask everyone to bring a can of food for The Alameda Food Bank, justifying the inedible dishes.

Surprisingly, a lot of them weren't inedible -- in fact, everything was incredible! Everyone really stepped up and created just the most fantastic dishes. (And I think everyone really enjoyed participating, which is a good rule of thumb for an affair to remember.)

Lots of baked goods:
Stolen from Jennye -- More Mid Century Winter Supper Club Stolen from Jennye -- More Mid Century Winter Supper Club Stolen from Jennye -- More Mid Century Winter Supper Club

And some presented with fire and aplomb:

And lots of other tasty treats, including the prize winning viking boat and "raped potatoes":

Stolen from Jennye -- More Mid Century Winter Supper Club Mid Century Supper Club Potluck December 14th, 2008 Stolen from Jennye -- More Mid Century Winter Supper Club Stolen from Jennye -- More Mid Century Winter Supper Club

(For more pics, click here: extravaganza pics and videos: live action footage!)

Not only is serving your guests delectable treats like flaming cakes and "raped potatoes" a recipe for a successful soiree, but you want it to swing, too. This is what we played, and it is hailed as the best holiday record anyone's heard for a long time:

barbary coasters -- best xmas album EVER
get yours now in time for next yule! HARK!

And of course, even being an afternoon party with everyone stuffing themselves with holiday goodness and spiked cider, there was still a dance party. Always a successful end to a good night, and a surefire way to work off calories consumed earlier.
Mid Century Supper Club Potluck December 14th, 2008
And the dance floor was packed about half an hour later!

So all in all, it was a very successful house party. In fact, all through Christmas I heard that our party was the best of the season, which makes me very pleased, because I know there's stiff competition out there. But it really was fun, and we can't wait to do it again.

One thing, though. The book, 97 Things To Do Before You Finish High School, has guidelines on how to be party smart and I will summarize for you:

1. "Remove all breakables" (If I removed all breakables, there would be nothing to eat from, and nothing for people to comment about and say, "Um, that's weird!")
2. "NO alcohol" (OMG, I can't even begin to fathom that. But instead of NO alcohol, follow the "be sure you have non-alcoholic beverages on hand," or better yet, the best acronym ever -- BYOB.)
3. "Do not post invitation online" (I posted this party EVERYWHERE. The more the merrier, and we had 60 people!)
4. "Tell immediate neighbors" (I do believe this is a good thing to do, but since it was a day party, we didn't bother. And our next door neighbors hate us anyway, so we don't care.)
5. "Have trashcans, paper towels, TP and carpet cleaner close at hand" (Pfft. Yeah, right. Our kitchen pretty much becomes one giant trashcan, and that's just how it goes.)

So as you can see, we broke EVERY SINGLE ONE of these party smart (party boring!) rules. Then again, we are not teenagers whose parents are in the Poconos for a week, so we don't really have to. Thank God.

Holly Golightly, eat your heart out.


Twenty-three down, 74 to go.


Elizabeth said...

I, too, love giving parties and hate cleaning up for and after them. AND I love spinach dip in a bread bowl. So that makes two of us. I think that's officially the start of a serious comeback!

Sparkleneely said...

Elizabeth, I think we should have a party in its honor. And with all the money we save just serving spinach dip in a bread bowl, we can hire someone to clean up for us. ;)

Happy New Year, dear Elizabeth -- I KNOW this is the year for your novel!


Megan said...

Now this is an accomplishment I can REALLY relate to! It looked amazing.

I also have absolutely no problem with the whole spinach dip bowl thingummy bob. You know what you do? You have a "dip" party and everyone can bring a different one. Nothing like a day of dipping! :)

The Sardonicist said...

i must say, having been to a party of yours (although it was several years ago, and before the mid-century dinner parties, alas!!), the caliber of your get-togethers has improved dramatically since the days of "previously owned cocktails". and yes, having seen the pictures, i can say without fear of contradiction, they continue to improve.

Eartha Kitsch said...

I'm so proud of you (such a fun read too) and am so jealous. All of our in-town friends don't really "get" it when I try to do something interesting or grand. It's such a drag! I once spent all day making this enormous rabbit sheet cake and everyone said, "Um...I don't really like coconut." I'm so happy that you are surrounded by people who get what you're doing and enjoy it.

The idea of you at a crashed party holding a Duralog and a goldfish with crooked eyeliner and big hair is fabulous. It's the way that I am always going to think of you now.

That said, that goldfish lived a good long life!


Anonymous said...

That's my most favorite moment in Breakfast at Tiffany's. And my most favorite pic of us co-hostessing with the mostess(ing)!

Sparkleneely said...

Megan -- hey, one of the Accomplishments in the book is "Go Skinny Dipping." But your Dip Party sounds WAAAAAY better to me...

Skorpeo -- I can say, without contradiction, that you and I have attended some pretty great parties together... these days, though, I must admit that they aren't as wild as they used to be. Maybe that's because you moved away!

Eartha -- believe me, a lot of people still scoff at the Mid-Century Supper Club! When we tell them they get a look on their faces like, "What? You've GOT to be kidding me. Ewww." And then I feel like I'm still that nerd in high school, holding a goldfish and a log. Sigh. But I would eat your rabbit sheet cake any day. SOMEDAY you will come to one of these.

And the fish... his name was Flash, after Flash Gordon. (More precisely -- after the QUEEN song. It was very popular around the time of the fifth grade carnival.) He died the summer I graduated from college, and when my dad called to tell me, I burst into tears. he grew to be so big that my parents couldn't flush him -- he's buried under a rose tree in the backyard. :)

Jennye -- maybe some dashing stranger will show up to the next potluck wearing an eye patch. But we might deem him creepy.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Girl, I hope I am lucky eonough to attend one of your parties one of these days. You cats are the epitome of people I always wanted to be friends with. Rock on you crazy kooky party animals.

Delinquent said...

Yes, I hate the cleaning up part too, but we do throw good parties or, like you said, that's what people tell us. It's funny how people put food and drinks in REALLY weird places and you find them like a week later, yeah pretty gross, but the funny thing is, I'm ready to have another one!!!

Sparkleneely said...

Dr. Monkey -- I hope you come to one of our parties! it would be a pleasure and honor for us to have you there!!!

Delinquent -- I think I saw a cup in the study this morning. Ugh.

And I must give BIG PROPS TO DELINQUENT, who is the co-host with the most, and who makes the parties run much more smoothly (until the Jameson's is gone, anyway). Thank you, honey!!!

San Jose Wedding Consultants owner, Liz Guthrie said...

Is that Misty Rogers tearing up the dance floor? And maybe Michele Willson-Watts? I could be wrong- maybe my eyes deceive me. Anyhow- I'm Liz, I stumbled upon your blog, and can I just say: I love it!!! I'm a wedding planner in San Jose- I blog, too- Here is one to add to your list: Get boudoir photographs done! And here is who I think should do it--- Suits your style, I think: check out my blog post about this amazingly talented pinup photographer :

Sparkleneely said...

Liz -- yes it is!!! No Michele (home with the bebe), but it's Carrie and Maya -- carrie's a long time friend and Maya's from San jose. small world! I'm sure we've met -- I was at both Misty and Michele's weddings...;)

And yes, I twittered you links to my friend Dolin's San Jose wedding -- I hope you got them!

thanks for finding my blog!!!

carrieswing said...

Not only are your parties the BEST EVER (said while wearing Tiara ONLY!), but I met the former love of my life at one of them! (like that math? hah!) Anyhow, I am eagerly awaiting the next one. And don't worry, I will not be bringing Jell-O, though I will be bringing mayhem to the dance floor! (again) xoxo